Image of dog displaying symptoms of ringworm

Key takeaway

Ringworm is an infection caused by a parasitic fungus that can be transmitted with direct contact between a dog and an infected surface, such as a person, animal, or piece of fabric. You may notice symptoms such as hair loss in circular areas, and dry, scaly, and inflamed skin if your dog has ringworm. Treatment for ringworm involves using a dewormer and using a topical cream on the affected area.

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a parasitic fungus that can infect both dogs and humans when they touch a surface that’s contaminated. The problem is, your dog doesn’t know any better than to explore everywhere they go, and they don’t know when a person or another animal has ringworm. As a pet parent, you need to know what ringworm is, how to recognize it, and what to do about it.

The good news about ringworm is that it’s not usually a serious medical concern. Ringworm in dogs causes skin problems as a result of the fungal infection, but it doesn’t cause life-threatening medical issues. That being said, your dog can spread ringworm to you and other animals, and it does make them uncomfortable.

If you think your dog may have ringworm, here’s what you need to know about how to get rid of ringworm in dogs.

What Is Ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection that’s caused by a parasitic fungus, which can affect your dog’s hair, skin, and claws. There are three different types of fungus that can cause ringworms in dogs: Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, and Tricophyton mentagrophytes.

Graphic showing how common different ringworm fungi are

Because ringworm primarily affects your dog’s skin and hair, it’s not considered a serious medical problem in most cases. However, ringworm can be more serious in Yorkshire Terriers as well as dogs who are debilitated or very young.

Most of the time, ringworm in dogs is caused by contact with infected animals or contaminated objects. It could be that one of your dogs had ringworm that’s been passed to the other through the grooming tools you’re using. This infection leads to inflammation of the skin and other symptoms that are similar to a rash. Once a dog has been infected with ringworm, they’re resistant for a short period of time.

Graphic listing symptoms of ringworm in dogs

Symptoms Of Ringworm In Dogs

As a pet parent, it’s up to you to watch out for symptoms of ringworm in dogs so you know when it’s time to call a vet. Because ringworm is a skin infection, you can usually spot the symptoms of ringworm in dogs with a simple physical exam.

Dogs who are infected with ringworm typically have bald, scaly patches of skin in the affected areas. You may also notice small bumps on your dog’s skin that may look like acne. Ringworm is most common in the face, tail, feet, and tips of the ears.

Unlike regular hair loss which may occur in a sort of random pattern, ringworm tends to cause hair loss in a somewhat circular patch. If your dog is losing small bits of hair in various spots, they may have allergies, dermatitis, or another condition that’s affecting their skin.

Causes: Why Do Dogs Get Ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection that occurs as a result of contact with an infected surface. Dogs get ringworm the same way humans do—by touching an animal, person, or object that’s contaminated with ringworm. Simply touching a spot on a person or animal’s body where ringworm is present can transmit the infection.

Preventing ringworm in dogs can be difficult because they like to explore and touch things and figure out what’s going on in the world around them. It’s important to make sure you’re using clean grooming equipment, and cover up any spots on your body or other animals’ bodies where ringworm may be present.

Diagnosis 

Diagnosing ringworm in dogs starts with a physical examination of the areas affected by ringworm. Your vet can determine whether your dog has ringworm or some other skin condition that’s causing irritation. If your dog has a different type of skin infection or they’re allergic to their food, it’s important to determine that.

Your vet will also use a fungal culture as well as a direct microscopic examination of the hair and skin to figure out if your dog has ringworm. Microscopic examination of hair and skin may actually allow your vet to diagnose ringworm at an earlier stage, which makes it easier to treat. In any case, it’s important to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Owner giving dog ringworm medicine

Treating Ringworm In Dogs

Fortunately, you have options when it comes to treating ringworm in dogs. Treatment for ringworm in dogs typically involves an oral medication to treat the fungal infection as well as topical medications to treat affected areas of the skin.

Oral medications are typically only used for long-term or severe cases of ringworm in dogs, which is more common in younger dogs and Yorkshire Terriers. 

The primary treatment option for ringworm in dogs is a medicated shampoo or dip. A medicated shampoo can help get rid of the fungal infection in your dog’s skin and relieve some of the symptoms of ringworm. Your vet may also recommend using bleach to clean the parts of your home where your dog spends a lot of time.

Getting an early diagnosis is an important part of treating ringworm in dogs. Left untreated, ringworm can spread and cause skin problems in various areas, which can make it harder to treat. It’s also important to talk to your vet about the age of your dog and their medical history to determine if oral medication is necessary.

Ringworm In Dogs: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I tell if my dog has ringworm?

Some of the symptoms of ringworm in dogs include bald, scaly patches of skin along with hair loss. You may also notice irritation and inflammation in the affected areas. These symptoms typically appear on the face, the tips of the ears, the tail, and the feet. While there are symptoms of ringworm in dogs that you may recognize at home, it’s important to take your dog to the vet to get them diagnosed and learn how to treat ringworm in dogs.

How do I get rid of ringworm on my dog?

If your dog has ringworm, it may go away on its own if they’re a healthy adult. However, you can help treat ringworm in dogs by using a medicated shampoo or dip to get rid of the fungal infection that’s causing skin problems. You may also want to use bleach to clean the parts of your home where your dog spends a lot of time, and consider investing in a new dog bed and new toys.

Is ringworm contagious from dogs to humans?

While ringworm is called a worm, it’s a much different type of parasite than a tapeworm or roundworm. Ringworm isn’t caused by worms at all, it’s actually the result of a fungal infection that affects the skin. That being said, ringworm is highly contagious between dogs and humans, so it’s important that you don’t touch the affected parts of your dog. When you give your dog a bath or use a medicated dip to treat ringworm, wash your hands after to make sure you’re minimizing the risk of spreading it or wear gloves.

Can I touch my dog if he has ringworm?

If your dog has ringworm, it’s best to avoid touching them as much as possible. What’s even more important is to avoid touching other parts of your skin after touching your dog if they have ringworm. Ringworm is highly contagious between dogs and humans, so you can easily get it from touching your dog then touching your skin after. If you do touch your dog, make sure you wash your hands well before you touch anything else.

Owner and dog in virtual vet visit

Final Notes

While ringworm isn’t typically a major medical problem for dogs, it can be an issue for very young dogs as well as Yorkshire Terriers. If you think your dog has ringworm, it’s important to take them to the vet to get them diagnosed. The symptoms of ringworm may also be similar to the symptoms of dog allergies and other conditions, so it’s important to rule out these conditions.

If you need a vet without the hassle, Dutch is here to help. Dutch can connect you with a vet in your area who you can video chat with, so you don’t have to go in for an appointment. Your vet can even work with pharmacies to have prescription medication delivered to your doorstep. 

References

  1. Merchant, Sandra R. “Ringworm (Dermatophytosis) in Dogs - Dog Owners.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 28 Feb. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/skin-disorders-of-dogs/ringworm-dermatophytosis-in-dogs