Dogs can get several types of skin infections. One very common type of infection is ringworm. Ringworm is not a worm. Humans are susceptible to it as well. When you know the signs, your veterinarian can treat it and help you prevent future infections. Find out more about ringworm and its prevention and treatment with this article.
What Is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a pathogenic fungus and not a worm. It feeds off the keratin in your dog's skin, nails, and hair. Dogs generally get ringworm from a dog-specific form of the fungi. However, these fungi can spread from your dog to you.
What Are the Signs of Ringworm in Dogs?
One of the first things you will notice if your dog gets ringworm is round patches of hair loss. Ringworm can attack any part of the body. Most likely, you will see it growing on your dog's ears, feet, or face. Sometimes, you may see red and inflamed skin in those areas. The lesions heal from the center as the infection spreads. Ringworm generally isn't itchy.
How Do Dogs (and Humans) Get Ringworm?
Ringworm spreads through direct contact with infected dogs. The spores are long-lived. They can remain on bedding, bowls, and carpeting long after your dog's infection clears. You can get infected by touching your dog or handling anything your dog lies on. Other household animals, like cats, can also catch the fungus both from the dog and you.
Dogs that spend a lot of time in kennels or other crowded conditions are more susceptible. Older dogs, puppies, and dogs with weakened immune systems are also at higher risk. Certain medications may also make your dog more likely to catch ringworm.
How Does the Veterinarian Treat Ringworm?
Ringworm is common, and veterinarians have many treatments to help clear it up. The treatments your dog needs depend on his specific case. Severe cases may need oral medications. Mild cases may only need a regiment of creams and ointments. Your dog may need treatment over several weeks, depending on the extent of their infection.
How Can One Prevent Ringworm in Dogs (and Humans)?
Ringworm can easily come back if you don't take precautions. First, you may want a veterinarian to check your other pets for infection. Also, clean or discard anything your pets use. Consider cleaning your carpets and upholstery in your pet's commonly-used areas. Do not share grooming tools between multiple animals.
A ringworm infection is irritating and can lead to hair loss. However, most infections are not life-threatening. Still, it is very contagious, so treating it is important. If your dog has any strange skin condition, bring them to a veterinarian for an examination.