Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that can affect dogs, cats, and even people. Ringworm is not a worm, and it is caused by the fungus dermatophytes, which can be found anywhere, although it originates in soil.
Ringworm is a fungus that digests keratin which is the protein in hair and nails. The fungi create spores and reproduce, which can cause the fungal infection to persist.
Three types of fungi cause ringworm- Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, and trichophyton mentagrophytes. Microsporum canis is the fungus that causes a majority of ringworm cases in dogs.
What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Dog?
Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that can look similar to skin irritation, skin allergies, and dog dermatitis. Common signs of ringworm are itchy skin, red skin, inflammation, rashes, scaly areas, scabs, and patchy hair loss in circular areas.
The most common locations of these symptoms include the face, ears, feet, and tail. However, the symptoms can occur anywhere and are not limited to these areas.
For healthy animals, it is not necessary to treat ringworm; it will go away on its own. However, treatment is beneficial because it will prevent the infection from spreading between animals or people, as well as shorten the time that the infection is active.
The dogs that are most likely to get ringworm are those that are young or stressed, and dogs in crowded homes are much more likely to develop ringworm. It is important to check your pets for any signs of ringworm, especially if these conditions apply.
Is Ringworm Contagious to Humans?
Ringworm is contagious to humans, and it is generally spread through contact. This can include contact with objects that have the fungus on them as well as contact with the animals themselves.
If a human develops ringworm, it will usually clear up without any treatment, but, as with dogs, treatment can make the infection go away sooner and also prevent further spread.
Humans can get ringworm from dogs and also pass it on to them. This means that if any person or animal in the house has ringworm, it is important to check the other members for the infection. Treatment can prevent the spread of ringworm from dog to person and from person to dog.
Just because there is contact between an object or animal with ringworm and a person, it does not mean that the person will develop ringworm. A small cut or opening in the skin is usually required for transmission. If an infected dog scratches your arm, this could increase the chance that you develop ringworm as opposed to if you merely pet an infected dog.
How to Treat Ringworm on Pets
To treat ringworm in your pet, you must go to the veterinarian and get a diagnosis. Ringworm can look like many other skin infections, so it is important to make sure that it is ringworm before starting to treat it.
The veterinarian will likely check your dog for inflammation, flaky skin, itching, and patchy fur, and they will determine if your dog has developed a new allergy, has another skin ailment, or if it is ringworm. Once they have officially diagnosed your pet with ringworm, treatment can begin.
A diagnosis will be made using a skin culture and an ultraviolet lamp, as well as skin scrapings and viewing the sample under a microscope. All of these methods allow for the veterinarian to decisively diagnose the infection as ringworm over another problem.
Generally, ringworm will be treated with medicated shampoos that will work on both the dog's skin and fur. There are also topical antifungal medications that can be applied to the ringworm spots to help treat them. If there are lesions caused by the infection, the veterinarian may provide other treatment options to ensure that the area does not get infected.
Ringworm can resolve itself without any treatment, so it is not always necessary to get medication. However, it is a good idea because it can ease your pet's discomfort and eliminate the possibility of excessive bald spots caused by ringworm. It can also prevent the spread of ringworm and save other pets or people in the household from the discomfort that comes with ringworm.
If the infection is severe and causing great discomfort to your pet, itch relief is an option that can prevent your dog or cat from excessively scratching the area, which can cause sores or further infection.
Once ringworm has been found in the household, it is important to clean your home and bedding to eliminate any fungal spores. Since ringworm can be transmitted through surfaces and objects, it is important to make sure that the house is clean and free of any possible fungi. This will also prevent recurrent infections if the dog comes into contact with the fungal spores after the ringworm clears up.
It is important to continue with treatment until the veterinarian has decided that it is time to stop and that the infection is cured. If treatment is stopped prematurely, the ringworm will remain, and recurrent infections will be more likely. This will prolong the discomfort for your pet, so it is vital to follow through with treatment until the professional is sure that the infection is gone.
Preventing the Spread of Ringworm Among Pets
The best way to prevent ringworm from spreading among pets is to know the symptoms so that you can identify the infection once it is first introduced into the household. Ringworm is highly contagious, which means that any contact with infected animals, people, or objects can put others at risk of contracting it.
Any new pets should be isolated at first to ensure that they do not have ringworm. Once they are cleared, they can be introduced to any other dogs or cats in the household.
Regularly bathing dogs can help keep them safe from ringworm. Similarly, cleaning the house and any objects that the dog came into contact with during their infection can help prevent reinfection or further spreading.
While your pet is infected with ringworm, it is best to avoid touching them as much as possible, and when you do touch them, it is important to wash your hands as soon as possible. This can protect you from infection or further spreading of the ringworm.
How is Ringworm in Dogs Spread?
Ringworm causes the fur to break easily in any infected area. These broken hairs contain ringworm spores, which means that contact with the hairs can lead to infection.
Ringworm in dogs is spread through contact with these spores. These spores can either be located on the dog or on surfaces that contain these infected fur pieces. Ringworm spreads when these spores enter any small tear in the skin, such as a cut or scrape, and it spreads very easily from there.
Topical Therapy for Ringworm
Topical treatments for ringworm usually precede oral treatments. This is because ringworm occurs on the top of the skin, making it easy to apply ointments and creams to the area.
Topical therapies can include over-the-counter shampoos that can help stop the infection from spreading and persisting. These are usually used twice a week, and you should follow any instructions from the veterinarian.
Anti-fungal creams and ointments can also work on small areas, which can treat a specific patch. It can help reduce itchiness and discomfort as well as prevent further spread.
Both over-the-counter and prescription ointments can be used to treat ringworm. They are generally used every six weeks but sometimes longer, and it is best to follow the instructions of the medication or the veterinarian.
It is useful to trim or shave the area around the infection because this will reduce the number of hairs that can break and spread the infection. It can also make it easier to apply medication to the infected area.
Oral Medications for Ringworm
Oral treatments are generally used for serious ringworm cases or for dogs who get ringworm often. Oral medications are generally prescribed by a veterinarian, and there are many different types.
When administering oral medications to your pet, it is important to follow instructions carefully and to continue treatment until the veterinarian says that you can stop. This generally takes six weeks or more.
Ringworm spreads very easily, including on surfaces, so it is important to clean the home as soon as ringworm is found on a pet or person. The fungal spores can be infectious for months once they are in the environment, and contact with these spores can lead to the spread of ringworm.
During ringworm treatment, it is important to vacuum often to get rid of any skin cells and fur that might contain fungal spores. It is also important to wash bedding and toys that might have become contaminated. This process should be done often during treatment.
Keeping dogs with ringworm quarantined in areas that are easier to clean can improve the decontamination process and reduce the risk of spreading ringworm. Additionally, keeping the infected pet isolated can prevent the spread from animal to animal. People must also be careful about contact with the infected dog, and it is important to wash your hands and clean up after any contact.
Preventing Ringworm in Dogs
Preventing ringworm in dogs involves keeping a clean home, checking for signs of ringworm often, and avoiding contact with strange animals. Since ringworm is extremely contagious, sometimes it is inevitable for your dog to get infected, but you can be alert and prioritize hygiene to try to minimize this possibility.
Dog Hotspot vs Ringworm vs Other Skin Issues
Dog hotspots, ringworm, and other skin issues can all look similar. Dog hotspots are red lesions on the skin that can be inflamed, ooze, or filled with pus, and they can appear very quickly. They are most commonly found on a dog's head, hips, and legs. They can be painful, smell bad, or itch, and they can be caused by many medical conditions, which is why it is important to go to a vet when they are identified.
There are many other skin issues, like infections or allergies, that can have similar visual appearances to ringworm. These can be itchy, red, inflamed, or include sores. A veterinarian can identify any skin issue, determine its cause, and then recommend treatment.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that commonly plagues pets, and it can also transfer to people. Ringworm is not life-threatening, but it can cause discomfort, so treatment is often a good idea to ease the effects as well as prevent spreading.
Ringworm can be treated with both topical and oral medications, and there are over-the-counter options as well as those from the veterinarian.
For more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips, check out the Off Leash blog at TryFi.com.
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