If your dog has ringworm, the first thing you need to get out of your mind is any idea that your pup has some kind of worm wriggling around under his skin. Ringworm is actually a slang term for a skin condition that is caused by a fungal infection also referred to as dermatophytosis. The most common form of fungus responsible for ringworm is Microsporum canis, which is spread via spores that can remain dormant for up to 12 months.
Ringworm feeds on keratin, which is a protein found in the upper layers of the skin and in hair. This fungal infection loves areas where there is plenty of heat and moisture, which is why it is more common during the warmer months of the year, in homes where the heater is running, and in homes where there are several dogs. Ringworm is highly contagious and can move from dogs to people and back to dogs quite easily.
Ringworm is Spread Through Contact
The most common method of ringworm transmission is through contact with another animal or person who is already infected. Bear in mind that outbreaks of this type of infection are more common among young dogs and those who spend time in boarding kennels, puppy mills, shelters, and animal shops.
The best way to prevent the spread of ringworm in this manner is to simply keep your dog out of these situations as this will ensure the fungus responsible for this condition has no way to be transferred to your dog. If you have to place your dog in a kennel for any time at all, you should make sure that the facility is spotlessly clean and is regularly disinfected using an approved disinfectant. Be sure to check with the owner of the kennel to make sure they follow approved disinfecting procedures.
Preventing the Spread of Ringworm in Your Home
Ringworm spores can remain alive and dormant in bedding, carpets, toys, hair that has been shed, and on the skin. Your vet may recommend you start out by giving your dog a bath using a special medicated shampoo.
You should also plan to wash all of his bedding, any toys he has, and, of course, equipment such as collars, harnesses, and leashes to eliminate any risk of the fungal spores remaining alive and ready to reinfect your dog. Bear in mind your dog can get ringworm more than once. In fact, he can pass it back and forth between other dogs and humans.
Be sure to vacuum your carpets frequently to reduce the risk of spores hiding out in the nap of the carpet waiting to infect you, your children or your dog. Just be sure to change the bag on your vacuum cleaner frequently or wash out the canister with disinfectant.
Avoid Contact with Infected Animals
Since ringworm is passed from one animal (or human) to another, you should keep your pup separated from any other animal that shows any sign of skin infection or hair loss. These are good signs that the dog may have ringworm; by keeping your dog away from the infected animal, you may be able to prevent the spread of ringworm.
At the same time, you should avoid sharing grooming equipment that is used on multiple animals, as the spores can live inside the equipment just waiting for the opportunity to attach themselves to your dog and infect him. If you take your dog to a professional groomer, be sure that they sterilize their equipment between dogs. If they don't, you may need to find another groomer.
Importance of Preventing Ringworm
Since ringworm is highly contagious and can take a very long time to cure, prevention can spare your dog the loss of hair, damage to his skin including painful blisters and lesions, and possible secondary infections that can lead to the need for further expensive veterinary treatments.
The treatment requires multiple visits to the vet and the application of topical or oral medications to cure the infection. This can be quite expensive, so taking the necessary steps to prevent ringworm in the first place can save your dog from numerous visits to the vet and your wallet from having to pay for them.
Additionally, since ringworm can be passed between species, taking steps to protect your dog will have the added benefit of protecting your entire household.
When Sharing Isn’t Caring
Ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection that can spread from one dog to another and from dogs to humans and back again. This just isn’t an experience you want to share with your four-legged pal..
Treatment can be expensive, but prevention is far less costly. While no one can guarantee your dog won't come down with a case of ringworm in his lifetime, if you do everything in your power to prevent him from contracting this condition, chances are very good you will never have to take him in to see the vet for treatment.
Remember there is always the risk that you or a family member can contract ringworm from your dog. Be sure to practice good hygiene; wash your hands any time you touch an infected animal using a good anti-bacterial soap. These simple preventative steps can help keep everyone in your home, including your furry friend, safe and sound.