Even though it has the word “worm” in it’s name, ringworm is actually a fungus infection. The infection occurs once the animal gets in contact with the spores of the fungus. These spores are quite hardy and very tricky to get rid of in the environment. They can even live for years in the environment, and it takes just one to be infected. The way they penetrate into the body is through broken skin. A healthy dog with intact skin cannot be infected with ringworm. However, how can you know if your dog is infected or not? What does ringworm even look like on a dog? To find out, keep on reading this article.
How is ringworm transmitted?
Ringworm is a contagious fungus that is spread by direct touch. It is spread by direct contact with an infected animal or person, as well as through handling contaminated goods or touching contaminated surfaces.
For months, fungal spores can lay latent on combs, brushes, food bowls, furniture, beds, carpets, and other environmental surfaces (reportedly up to 18 months).
Ringworm is contagious, and it can be spread from infected to uninfected people through direct contact or contact with contaminated materials. Ringworm infection does not usually follow contact with the fungus. The amount of environmental pollution, as well as the age of the exposed human or animal, are crucial factors in the development of a ringworm infection.
Unless there is a break in the skin, such as a scratch, healthy adult humans are normally immune to infection. Ringworm infection is more common in the elderly, small children, and individuals with compromised immune systems or skin sensitivity. If your child has ringworm, it could have come through your pet or another student at school.
If you or a member of your family has suspected skin lesions, see your family physician very once.
Ringworm infection — who can get it?
Ringworm can infect the skin in all animals, even including people. However, the infection isn’t too common in people and will usually just cause one or two circular patches of red and irritated skin.
How long will the lesions take to appear?
The incubation period between exposure to the ringworm fungus and the appearance of ringworm lesions is normally seven to fourteen days, but it can take up to 21 days in some cases.
Symptoms of Ringworm: What does ringworm look like on a dog?
On dogs, ringworm can appear in many different ways. In most cases it appears as bald areas with crusty covering. However, sometimes a ringworm infection can be completely asymptomatic and not show any skin changes at all.
Infected areas, also called patches of ringworm can look like grey, scaly patches. But they can also appear like red lesions in others. You might even see some hair loss patches or broken hair. Brittle hair is especially common in breeds with longer coats.
The dogs that are most commonly affected are often either very young or very old, or/and have a long coat.
The ringworm lesions will most commonly appear on a dog’s legs, paws, head, ears. However, they can be visible anywhere on the body.
Diagnosing ringworm in dogs
If you’re suspecting that your dog has a ringworm infection — take him to the vet as soon as you can. Professional treatment will be needed, and you will have to make sure that your dog doesn’t spread the infection to other animals or people.
There are a few ways in which vets diagnose ringworm. The following three methods are most commonly used to make a diagnosis:
The classic ‘ringworm’ lesions on the skin are identified by a professional. This procedure is ineffective and can lead to misdiagnosis. To establish the presence of ringworm fungi, additional diagnostic procedures are frequently required.
Infected hairs fluoresce under a specific UV light called a Wood’s lamp. When the skin and coat are examined in a dark room with a Wood’s lamp, most cases of canine ringworm caused by M. canis will glow with a yellow-green flourescence. Under a Wood’s lamp, however, not all cases of M. canis fluoresce, and neither T. mentagrophytes nor M. gypseum fluoresce. While this technique can be used as a quick screening tool in multi-animal farms in some cases, diagnosis based on Wood’s lamp evaluation is not always accurate.
A fungal culture of a sample of hair or skin cells is the most accurate way for detecting ringworm in dogs. A positive culture can occasionally be confirmed within a few days, but the fungus spores can be slow to proliferate in some situations, thus culture results can take up to four weeks. As a result, a suspected sample cannot be declared negative until at least a month has passed.
Hair loss in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors. Your veterinarian may prescribe additional testing to rule out some of these causes before diagnosing ringworm.
Treatment of Ringworm
Treating a Ringworm infection in dogs isn’t easy at all. Most fungus infections are stubborn and hard to get rid of, and a Ringworm infection is no exception. It will require a few different steps to make sure that your dog completely recovers. The best thing, of course, would be to prevent an infection from ever happening. We will talk more about that topic later.
There are different treatment options your dog could go through after veterinarians diagnose Ringworm. Treatment lasts for weeks to months and should not be stopped until follow-up testing shows that the fungus germs are gone and your veterinarian gives you the okay. A fungal culture should be performed every 2-3 weeks after starting treatment to check the treatment’s success.
If all treatment options, quarantine, and cleaning measures are followed, ringworm can be treated and cured. Because ringworm is notoriously difficult to treat, it’s critical to stick to the following steps:
A word that all of us are more than familiar with these days — quarantine! Yes, you will have to isolate your dog from other pups while he is infected.
Because fungus is highly contagious, the first step in treating your dog for ringworm is to isolate him. Limit your dog’s contact with humans and keep him apart from other pets.
Ideally, your dog should be kept in a space that is easy to clean, such as a spacious bathroom. Rugs or wood flooring should not be used in a space because they are difficult to clean.
Bathing is an important aspect of the treatment since it removes and kills the fungus spores on your dog’s fur. Because hairs that have been treated are not contagious when shed, this helps to prevent further environmental contamination and cross-infection with other animals in the house.
Lime Sulfur baths and antifungal shampoos are the two most used topical therapies. Lime Sulfur dips are the most effective of them, and they can be done at home or at the veterinarian’s office. Because they are dirty and smelly, many pet owners prefer to have them done at their veterinarian’s office.
Antifungal shampoos are frequently used with a disinfectant such as chlorhexidine to combat ringworm. These should be used twice a week on average.
Ringworm infections have not been demonstrated to respond to ointments or other topically applied treatments. It is not recommended to shave dogs with long coats since shaving can create small injuries to the skin, making the dog more prone to the infection.
Oral medicines treat ringworm by preventing the fungus from reproducing and spreading. These and topical remedies should be used simultaneously in most circumstances.
Antifungal medications come in a variety of forms, each with its own set of expenses and side effects. The most common side effects for most of them are gastrointestinal/tummy issues. If you notice any more severe symptoms, contact your vet and see if you should stop treatment.
Based on your pet’s health and diagnosis, your veterinarian will work with you to identify the best product and treatment for them.
Fungal spores are continually shed by infected pets into the surroundings. It’s critical to keep your dog isolated and sanitize all other areas of the house until a culture test comes back negative or your veterinarian advises you to halt treatment. Otherwise, your dog may contract ringworm from the surroundings and become infected again.
Use an effective disinfectant to thoroughly clean all locations where your dog has come into contact. Vacuum and/or steam clean your floors as well, and don’t forget to sanitize your vacuum afterwards. Items that can be washed, such as dog beds, should be washed twice in hot water, preferably with bleach.
During treatment, clean the area of your home where your pet is sleeping at least twice a week. When treating a pet at home, use disposable gloves whenever possible and wash your hands and clothing after handling an infected animal.
Preventing a Ringworm infection in dogs and the spread of Ringworm
Prevention is the best treatment, so it would be a good idea to lower the risk of your dog ever becoming one of the cases of Ringworm. It’s crucial to remember that dogs can be asymptomatic carriers. A pet that is infected but not showing symptoms is known as a silent carrier. As a result, once a pet has been identified with ringworm, the entire household should be tested.
A person who has ringworm might potentially pass it on to their pets. If you discover a red, ringed skin lesion on your skin, you should have it examined by your doctor or a medical practitioner.
When bringing in stray dogs or cats, keep them separate from your other pets until they’ve had a thorough medical examination by a veterinarian.
Because ringworm can be found in dirt, don’t let your dog dig outside, especially if there is a lot of wildlife around.
Taking your dog to the vet for examinations twice a year is also beneficial. Ringworm is significantly less likely to affect pets without any skin problems.
Can I get a ringworm infection from my dog?
The short answer is — yes. It is possible for dog owners to get a ringworm infection from their canine friend. However, you cannot catch the infection if you don’t have areas of broken skin — this includes wounds, scratches, grazed skin or even eczema.
People with weaker immune systems are at a higher risk of catching a ringworm infection from their dogs. Especially young children, elderly people and the ones suffering from chronic diseases.
If you notice any changes in your skin, it would be best to go and see a doctor. Ringworm lesions most commonly appear as red circles on the human skin.
Your doctor will be the one giving you the ultimate diagnosis and a treatment plan.
How can I know if my dog has ringworm?
Ringworm can be mistaken for any other skin condition. If you find your dog has a crusty lesion, a circular region of hair loss with a ring of red skin, or any persistent skin damage that is not healing, you should get them inspected by a veterinarian.
How long is my dog infectious?
If vigorous therapy is given, infected pets are contagious for roughly three weeks. If only basic precautions are done or if you do not follow the specified approach, the ringworm infection will endure longer and be contagious for a longer period of time. During this time, it’s best to limit your exposure to other dogs or cats, as well as your family members.
Will my dog recover from ringworm?
If treated properly, the vast majority of dogs will recover from ringworm infection. If the treatment is stopped too soon or is not aggressive enough (i.e., only topical treatment was employed), or if the pet has an underlying condition that compromises the immune system, symptoms may reappear. Because the dog is a ringworm carrier, symptoms may reoccur on occasion.
Will my dog’s ringworm infection go away on its own?
The precise answer is that, depending on the ringworm fungus type and the strength of the dog’s immune system, it would most likely go gone on its own after 9-12 months, which is a pretty long time. However, the dog is infecting the environment during this time, and all humans and any pets in the house may become infected. Because ringworm feeds on hairs and dead skin, the majority of your dog’s hair will fall out, making his skin more vulnerable to wounds and secondary infections.
Are there any home cures for ringworm in dogs?
There aren’t any effective treatments that you could do at home. There are many old wives’ tales about treating ringworm with home goods, but they are ineffective and can be dangerous to pets. Some antifungal shampoos are available over the market, however nonprescription drugs are not one of the best ways to treat these infections.
Does Ringworm affect all dog breeds?
Not all dogs who come into contact with ringworm may develop symptoms. The type of fungus, as well as the dog’s age, health, nutrition, and grooming, all play a role in ringworm infestations.
Ringworm can affect any dog, although particular age groups and breeds are more susceptible. Boston terriers, Yorkies, and Jack Russell terriers are especially susceptible to ringworm. Ringworm is also more likely to affect very old dogs, puppies, and dogs with a compromised immune system.
What are the dangers to humans?
Because ringworm is often passed to people, especially young children, it is important to take steps to limit exposure to the fungus while the dog is being treated. People with a weaker immune system are more likely to get ringworm and show signs of illness.
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