Contrary to what its name suggests, ringworm is not a type of worm or parasite like hookworm, roundworm, or tapeworm. It is actually a fungal infection that affects the skin. Ringworm is characterized by circular or semi-circular patches of baldness and red, raised rashes on the skin. The name “ringworm” is derived from the ring-like or worm-like shape that the rashes often take on. It is important to note that ringworm is caused by a fungus, not a worm.
Ringworm typically manifests as a circular or ring-shaped pattern on the skin, often accompanied by redness, hair loss, and swelling. However, in dogs, ringworm may not always exhibit such prominent symptoms. It’s important to be aware of the following signs:
- Inflamed and red skin rash.
- Presence of scales resembling dandruff.
- Itchiness (pruritus).
- Dry and brittle hair that easily breaks.
- Circular or patchy areas of hair loss (alopecia).
- Darkened skin (hyperpigmentation).
- Reddened skin (erythema).
- Scabs or raised nodular lesions on the skin.
- Inflamed skin folds around the claws or near the nails.
How Does a Dog Gets infected with Ringworm?
Ringworm can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal or by coming into contact with contaminated objects such as towels, food or water bowls, couches, or carpets. The fungus responsible for ringworm can survive for months, making it possible for the infection to spread through shed fur from an infected dog. Additionally, the fungus can persist on various surfaces and become trapped in items like carpets, drapes, and linens if they are not properly cleaned.
Dogs often get ringworm by playing outdoors, as certain types of the fungus can live freely in the soil. The dog’s immune system may be able to combat the fungus, or it may develop a localized or more widespread skin infection, depending on factors such as the dog’s overall health, the specific fungal species involved, the affected body part, and the dog’s age.
In some cases, a dog can be a carrier of ringworm without displaying visible symptoms. If your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm, it is advisable to have your other pets examined by a veterinarian as a precautionary measure. Additionally, it’s important to inform fellow dog owners and those who walk their dogs with you that your dog has been infected, is receiving treatment, and that they should be vigilant for signs of ringworm in their own pets.
How to treat Ringworm?
If your pet is diagnosed with ringworm, there are several effective treatment options available. The choice of treatment will depend on the severity of the ringworm infection and will be determined by your veterinarian.
The treatment process is generally straightforward and complications are rare if the fungus is treated promptly. Your veterinarian may prescribe a topical medication to apply directly to your dog’s skin or an oral anti-fungal medication.
In addition to medication, your veterinarian may recommend environmental decontamination of your home to eliminate any sources of contamination that could contribute to the spread of ringworm. This may involve cleaning surfaces and items that your dog has come into contact with.
In some cases, shaving the fur around the more heavily infected areas of your dog may be recommended to facilitate treatment and prevent the fungus from persisting in the fur.
It is important not to assume that your dog is cured simply because the visible symptoms disappear. It is crucial to continue the treatment as prescribed by your veterinarian until your dog has been declared fully cured. This ensures that the infection is completely eradicated and helps prevent any recurrence. Regular follow-up visits with your veterinarian will be necessary to monitor the progress and effectiveness of the treatment.
The information provided in this post is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace professional veterinary advice. It is always important to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for your pet’s specific condition. Veterinary professionals are best equipped to provide personalized guidance based on their knowledge and expertise.