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Ringworm in dogs: A guide

Ringworm in dogs can be a bit of a nuisance, but it’s easily treated. Learn about ringworm symptoms, signs, and treatments with Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance. 

Provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc.

Ringworm in dogs

Ringworm in dogs isn’t actually a worm – it's a fungus. Read on to discover the signs to look out for, symptoms, causes, and potential treatment options. 

What is ringworm in dogs?

Ringworm in dogs (and humans) is a name given to a common fungal infection of the skin, hair, and nails. The name comes from the infection’s appearance: a round, raised, red ring that appears like a border around a scaly, flaky, or crusty-looking centre. Sometimes, the infection may appear greyer depending on the colour of your dog’s skin. Ringworm in dogs is spread by physical contact either directly, or through items used on the infected patch of skin such as a brush or clippers.

Symptoms of ringworm in dogs

Signs of ringworm in dogs generally include a raised, circular rash with a crusty covering, and hair loss within the circular boundary. Apart from the discomfort from the rash, and the unsightliness of it, there are very few major symptoms to worry about. 

Ringworm isn’t life-threatening, but it can be highly contagious. Transmitting the infection from a dog to a human is unlikely, but still possible. Young, elderly, or dogs with long coats are at higher risk of infection. 

Diagnosing ringworm in dogs 

Diagnosing ringworm in dogs isn’t too difficult, and there are two common methods a vet can use to identify the infection:

  • Fur sample - Your vet may collect a fur sample, to identify any ringworm spores. The sample is left to see if ringworm spores grow. This is one of the more reliable methods but can take up to ten days to provide results.
  • Ultraviolet lamps - Some types of ringworm appear under UV light, so this can be used on your dog’s coat and skin to identify infection. Ringworm may have a yellow fluorescence, though not all strains do.

How to treat ringworm in dogs

Untreated ringworm in dogs can be stubborn, and the fungus can thrive in many conditions. Even though it’s not life-threatening, it’s essential to stop the fungal infection from re-occurring. To treat ringworm, there are several solutions that might be recommended:

  • Lotions - Topical therapy such as lotions, creams and ointments are common. These are applied to localised areas of infection on your pet.
  • Shampoos - One common method of application includes anti-fungal shampoos, which can target the spores and could be a bit more practical depending on the length of your pup’s coat.
  • Anti-fungal medication - Anti-fungal medication can be administered orally, and often comes as a tablet, capsule, or liquid solution. 

While your dog is being treated, your vet may take more samples of the affected areas to determine if ringworm spores are still present. Keeping your home environment clean is also essential, as ringworm spores can be hardy. 

That means you’ll want to trim any dogs with long coats, dispose of all hair, and potentially keep your pet quarantined in specific areas of the home. Also, thoroughly cleaning or replacing items like dog beds could reduce the chance of re-contamination. Any room your dog uses should be cleaned daily, with a diluted mixture of bleach and water or an antifungal cleaner. 

How contagious is ringworm in dogs to humans?

Ringworm in dogs is still contagious for humans and is often caught by touching the infected area with broken skin. If your dog has ringworm and you have cuts or scratches, you can contract the infection.

While not as likely, ringworm could also be transferred from dog to human by touching infected belongings like a dog bed. Remember, if you have eczema or similar skin conditions you may also  be at risk. 

Those with a weaker immune system are also at higher risk of infection, this includes young children, the elderly, or those undergoing chemotherapy, as well as transplants or transfusions. Essentially, anything that makes you more vulnerable to picking up a fungus. Be sure to use gloves, aprons and other protection for your skin when handling a dog with ringworm. If you are infected, visit a doctor for treatment and try to avoid scratching it or touching other areas of your body. 

Sainsbury’s Bank dog insurance

Ringworm in dogs isn’t nice but it’s easy to solve. With Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance, you can get cover for treatments for ringworm in dogs. Learn more about Sainsbury’s Bank dog insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Can ringworm in dogs heal on its own?

Eventually, ringworm in dogs can go away on its own. However, the strain is infectious, and you increase the risk of both other pets and people becoming infected too. Ringworm could take months to heal.

Can I touch my dog if he has ringworm?

Ideally, you should avoid direct, physical contact with your pet or their belongings if they have ringworm. While the risk of infection is low, it jumps significantly if you have any broken skin, skin conditions, or anything affecting your immune system.

How do I clean my house after ringworm in dogs?

Try to disinfect areas where your dog has been using a disinfectant cleaning solution. Additionally, consider removing or replacing infected dog beds, blankets, or toys. If that’s not an option, attempt to thoroughly disinfect their belongings.