Unlike in humans, dog ringworms are not ring-like. Dogs have hairless, circular patches; these patches can grow in size and become irregular in shape. The fungi feed on the skin, skin and hair follicles and hair which results to hair loss. These hairless patches may appear red, swollen and may or may not be itchy. The infected areas are also flaky and scaly. Ringworms usually appear in the face, paws, ears, and tails. Ringworms can also appear in the nails, causing the nails to be brittle and cracked.
The fungus can be transmitted through direct contact. It can also be passed on to humans and other animals such as cats. The spores can survive in the environment for a long time, and when dogs come in contact with these things, the dog becomes infected with the fungus. The fungus can also strive in the soil for months given that there are ample amounts of moisture and nutrients; dogs in contact with infected soil can also have ringworms.
How to Treat a Dog with Ringworm?
Ringworms in dogs usually disappear without any treatment within 3 to 4 months, but treatment is still necessary to prevent further hair loss and to prevent other pets from having it too.
- Topical creams with miconazole. This can be used when there are only a few lesions. The cream should be applied twice a day until the skin goes back to normal. It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks before the skin is completely healed.
- Shampoo with miconazole and other anti-fungal ingredients. This can be done when the lesions are spread all over the body.
- Disinfect. Fungal spores can live in the environment for a long period of time. Hence, it is important to disinfect contaminated areas. A 1:10 bleach-water ratio can effectively kill fungal spores. Always include beddings, carpets and sheets as they can also be contaminated.
- Treat other pets in the household. If one of the dogs is contaminated with ringworms, then most likely other dogs in the house also have this fungal infection but may not have lesions. Use anti-fungal shampoo on other dogs, as well.
- Consult a veterinarian. When nothing seems to work, it is best to consult the dog’s veterinarian. The veterinarian may prescribe anti-fungal medications.
- Ringworms can be transmitted from dogs to humans; therefore it is important to wash hands well after handing infected dogs. Children should not be allowed to hold pets that have ringworms.