Ringworm is a common fungal skin infection also known as ‘tinea’. The infection is not actually caused by a worm, but is highly contagious and can affect people and pets alike. Caution must be taken handling any individual or pet that has caught ringworm. But is it so contagious that your precious cat could transmit ringworm to your beloved dog?
Can Dogs Get Ringworm from Cats?
People may think because dogs and cats differ vastly biologically, that your dog could not catch ringworm from your cat, but it absolutely can! Due to the highly contagious nature of the fungal infection, it is certainly possible for your dog to catch ringworm from your cat. So understanding the symptoms and treatment options is essential in a house that contains infected pets.
Does My Dog Have Ringworm?
The good news is, ringworm is relatively easy to spot when there are symptoms. The bad news is, some dogs have no symptoms at all and just harbour the infection to spread to others. But if your dog displays the following symptoms, they could well have ringworm.
Is your dog constantly scratching his skin? Does the skin look red or covered in dandruff? Has your dog’s hair fallen out in places? Is there a ring on his skin with inflammation around it? Is there the presence of raised nodular lesions? Are your dog’s claws brittle or broken? All of the above could be signs of ringworm.
But what causes ringworm? It’s an infection caused by fungi, which could lay dormant for up to 18 months! Spores in the soil could be the cause, fleas can carry the infection, and any contact with an infected animal or person could also transmit the infection.
There are three ways your vet may diagnose ringworm. The vet will look for visible signs of a ringworm lesion in a physical examination. They may also examine hairs under a Wood’s lamp, or they may wish to take a fungal culture of hair or skin cells.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Ringworm?
A number of different treatments may be used to combat your dog’s ringworm. Firstly, topical creams, ointments and medicated shampoo may be used to directly tackle the infection. The length and choice of treatment will depend on the severity of the case. But recovery from ointments and shampoos could take 4-6 weeks.
Your vet may also prescribe oral antifungal medications. These will need to be taken for at least 6 weeks. Your vet will likely take cultures every two weeks to check for the presence of ringworm. After two or three negative cultures, treatment can be stopped. But again, recovery often takes a minimum of 6 weeks.
There is also the possibility of clipping being used if the ringworm is severe. However, this is used sparingly as any nicks that your dog suffers while getting clipped may cause the fungus to spread deeper into the skin.
Regardless of the treatment method, full recovery will take several weeks and keeping the house and the dog’s areas clean and disinfected will go a long way to speeding up the recovery process.
For first hand accounts from dog owners, plus commonly asked questions answered by our trained, in-house vets, check out our guide to Ringworm in Dogs.
How Is Ringworm Similar in Dogs and Humans?
There is a number of striking similarities in the way ringworm manifests itself in dogs and people, such as:
In dogs and humans the skin may become irritated and inflamed, causing individuals to scratch the affected area.
In both, the affected skin can become visibly red and inflamed.
In both dogs and humans, rounded, nodular lesions may develop.
Ringworm may cause patchy hair loss in both dogs and humans.
Ringworm may cause blisters in both dogs and humans.
How Is Ringworm Different in Dogs and Humans?
It is also worth noting there are several differences in the symptoms of ringworm between dogs and people. Some of those differences are:
In dogs, ringworm can often show itself in the form of dandruff flakes, this is much less common in humans.
In dogs, a common symptom is broken hairs in their coat, not a symptom seen in humans.
Dixie was a 4-month-old Dachshund puppy whose owner started to notice missing hair, dandruff, and a red circle underneath her coat. The vet diagnosed the condition as ringworm and Dixie was prescribed topical cream and shampoo to fight the infection. Within 6 weeks of using the cream and shampoo the ringworm had cleared up. But the owner developed ringworm on her arm in the process! This case illustrates the importance of keeping everything clean and disinfected, plus trying to limit your physical contact with your dog until the ringworm has completely gone.