Can a Dog Get Ringworm?

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We often associate ringworm with humans, but it is also quite common in dogs, too. Ringworm is actually not a worm at all, but a fungal infection of the superficial layers of the skin, hair, and nails. It gets its name from the appearance of a red, round ring that marks the infected area. In dogs, ringworm is usually caused by one of three fungi and affects just a few areas of the dog's body. While all dogs are susceptible, puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with weak immune systems are most at risk. 

Luckily, ringworm is easily treatable and your dog will be back to his pawsome self in a matter of no time! If you notice the red lesions or circles on your dog, make sure to contact your vet, as the infection can spread to other animals and humans if left untreated. 

Introduction of Can a Dog Get Ringworm?

Signs of Ringworm in Dogs

Good news: Ringworm is not a life-threatening disease, however, it is very contagious and must be treated with medication from your veterinarian. Most dogs will experience hair loss along around the affected area, along with the tell-tale red circle and lesions. This will create a patchy appearance, which can scab over or even become inflamed in some cases. 

If you notice raised, knotty circular lesions (which may ooze), scales on the surface of the skin, inflammation or reddening of the skin, itchiness, darkened skin at the infected area, hair loss, or dull hair coat, it could mean your dog has ringworm. Be sure and contact your vet right away so the infection doesn't spread to other pets, or you. 

Body Language

Here are some signs your dog has ringworm:
  • Chewing
  • Scratching

Other Signs

These are other signs your dog may have ringworm:
  • Scales on the surface of the skin
  • Hair loss
  • Darkened skin at the site of infection
  • Brittle nails
  • Poor hair coat

History of Ringworm in Dogs

History of Can a Dog Get Ringworm?
Ringworm can be traced back to the 1800s, although the first case in domesticated dogs is unknown. Back in the 19th century, doctors and scientists alike knew very little about the infection - they even thought it was actually caused by a worm! Over the last couple of centuries, we've learned that ringworm is actually a fungal infection that shows up as a rash or in the shape of a ring. 

The first major studies on ringworm in humans popped up in the 1900s around. During World War II, military doctors used mercury, iodine, and sulfur to treat the condition. The infection is very contagious and thrives in humid environments, which is one reason why so many soldiers contracted it in the South Pacific during the war. 

Science Behind Dogs Getting Ringworm

Science of Can a Dog Get Ringworm?
Young dogs, senior animals, and dogs with other diseases are more susceptible to ringworm than others, as the infection requires a strong immune system to fight it off. Dogs living in dense shelters or kennels as well as in unsanitary environments are also at a higher risk of developing ringworm. While cross-contamination is very unlikely, it does happen from time to time, which is why it's so important to be in touch with your vet immediately. 

In order to diagnose ringworm, your vet will do a fungal culture, which basically means they will take a few hair and skin follicles and add a culture to see what grows on it. Test results can take several days to a few weeks to come back, during which time your dog may need to be quarantined from other animals. 

Impressively, ringworm can survive in a given environment for upwards of 18 months. If your dog does get the infection, the environment will need to be decontaminated in order to ensure no one else gets it. 

Training Your Dog to Live with Ringworm

Training of Can a Dog Get Ringworm?
We can't reiterate how important it is to contact your vet if you notice any of the signs of ringworm in your dog. Transmission occurs by direct contact with the fungus, which means it could be passed to you if you aren't careful! Ringworm fungal spores can also cling to brushes, food bowls, furniture, bedding, carpet, or any other environmental services, so if your dog has ringworm, the first step is to sterilize your home and toss out any grooming items. 

Today there are several treatment options for ringworm in dogs, including topical treatments such as medicated shampoos, creams, and ointments and oral medications. Your vet will have insight as to which is best for your dog. 

How to React If Your Dog Has Ringworm

  • Call your vet
  • Sterilize your home
  • Don't touch the infected area
  • Keep other pets and children away from the dog with the fungus