Thursday, 04/27/2023

As a dog owner, it’s always a joy to see your furry friend happy and healthy. However, things can take an unexpected turn when your pup starts showing signs of discomfort. This discomfort can be caused by ringworms.

First off, let’s clear the air – ringworm is not a worm, despite its name. It’s a fungal infection caused by dermatophytes. It appears on the skin of a dog as a ring-shaped bald patch, hence, the name. But what’s the worst part you ask? It’s highly contagious and can spread to other pets and humans in the house. So, if you notice your furry pal itching, scratching, licking, or chewing their skin, or if you spot bald patches on their fur, don’t ignore it! 

If that doesn’t alarm you, maybe this will — did you know that ringworm can affect not just dogs, but also cats, humans, and other animals? In fact, it’s estimated that 20% of dogs will develop ringworm at some point in their lives! That’s a pretty significant figure, which highlights the importance of being aware of this condition and knowing how to deal with it.

As a pet parent, all of this may sound overwhelming but it’s not difficult to deal with, especially now that we have your back. We have curated the latest and most reliable information available to help you understand this condition and care for your pup in the best way possible.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about ringworm in dogs, from its causes and symptoms to treatment options and prevention tips. So, whether you’re a first-time dog owner or an experienced paw-rent, sit back and relax. Together, we’ll learn the causes, signs, and treatment options for this pesky fungal infection. Let’s get started!

Let’s Understand What Is Ringworm Disease in Dogs

Ringworm, despite its name, is a fungal infection that can affect our furry friends and us humans alike. Those pesky dermatophytes love to snack on keratin, a protein found in hair, skin, and nails. And, if that wasn’t enough, ringworm in dogs is highly contagious! Up to 70% of dogs can develop ringworm at some point in their lives, so it’s essential to keep an eye out for symptoms like circular bald patches, scaly or crusty skin, and excessive itching.

When it comes to ringworm in dogs, it’s the tiny spores of the dermatophyte fungus that you need to be wary of. These spores reproduce on your dog’s skin and quickly spread to other areas of their body, causing all sorts of problems. One of the most obvious signs that your furry friend has ringworm is circular patches of hair loss. This happens because the fungus weakens the fur and makes it more fragile, leading to breakage.

But how do they get it in the first place?

Well, the answer is pretty straightforward. Dogs can contract ringworm through direct contact with an infected animal or object. For example, if your pooch sniffs or licks an infected dog, or shares bedding or toys with them, they can easily pick up the spores of the dermatophyte fungus that causes the infection.

Ringworm in dogs is highly contagious, so if your pup spends time in environments where other dogs are present, like parks or daycare centers, they may be at a higher risk of contracting the infection. In fact, some studies suggest that up to 20% of dogs in kennels or shelters may have ringworm.

It’s important to note that ringworm can also be transmitted to humans, especially to children or individuals with weakened immune systems. So, if you suspect that your dog has ringworm, it’s crucial to take the necessary precautions to prevent the infection from spreading.

Fortunately, with proper care and treatment, most dogs can recover from ringworm without any serious complications. So, if you notice any signs of ringworm in your furry friend, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian for advice and treatment options. 

Remember, prevention is key, so make sure to practice good hygiene and keep your dog away from infected animals or objects to minimize the risk of ringworm infection.

There are several treatment options available, including antifungal medications, medicated shampoos, and topical creams. However, diagnosis can be tricky, so it’s best to take your dog to the vet for confirmation.

What Are the Symptoms of Ringworm in Dogs?

Let’s check out the symptoms:

Circular patches of hair lossA clear sign of ringworm is circular patches of hair loss. These lesions may be scaly, crusty, or reddish in color.
Excessive itching or scratchingYour dog may scratch or bite the affected areas frequently.
Red or inflamed skinThe affected areas of your dog’s skin may be red, inflamed, or irritated.
Dandruff or flakinessYou may notice flaky, dandruff-like skin in the affected areas.
Crusty bumps or thickened skinIn severe cases of ringworm, the skin around the affected area may become thickened or crusty.
Swollen lymph nodesDogs with ringworm may develop swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the area around the infected site.
Darkened or discolored skinIn some cases, the skin around the infected area may become darker or discolored.

Note: Some dogs may not exhibit any symptoms of ringworm, making it difficult to diagnose without testing. If you suspect your dog may have ringworm, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian right away for proper diagnosis and treatment. Being proactive will help you delay the prognosis of the disease.

What Are the Key Causes of Ringworm Disease In Dogs? 

Ringworm disease is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes that can be found in soil, on contaminated surfaces, and on infected animals. These fungi can survive for months in the environment and can spread easily from one host to another.

The most common way that ringworm is spread is through direct contact with an infected animal, such as a dog or cat. The fungus can also be spread by coming into contact with contaminated objects, such as grooming tools, bedding, or toys.

Once the spores of the fungus come into contact with a susceptible host, they can start to grow and reproduce. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments and can penetrate the skin, hair, and nails of the host.

Ringworm is more common in younger animals and those with weakened immune systems. Dogs that live in crowded or unsanitary conditions are also more at risk of contracting the disease.

Ringworm in Dogs Causes and Prevention
Ringworm in Dogs: Causes and Prevention

Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects dogs of all ages and breeds. It’s a highly contagious disease that spreads easily, but it’s also preventable with proper care and hygiene.
Causes of Ringworm in Dog
#1 Fungal Spores
Fungal spores are the most common cause.Spores can be found in soil, animals, and in contaminated environments.
#2 Contact with Infected Animals
Direct contact with infected animals, including dogs, cats, and rodents.Through contaminated objects like brushes, dog beds, as well as surfaces.
#3 Weakened Immune System
Weakened immune system makes a dog more susceptible.Higher risk due to underlying skin conditions like open wounds, fresh scratches, fleas, or chronic skin conditions.
#4 Breeds with Dense Coats
Dense fur can create an environment for ringworm to thrive.Breeds like Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Shih Tzus are more prone to infection.
#5 Environmental Factors
Dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors or in humid environments are more at risk of ringworm.Areas with high humidity, such as the southern United States, have higher rates of ringworm infection.
Prevention Tactics
Use antifungal sprays or creams as recommended by your veterinarian.Keep the infected pet’s skin and fur clean and dry. Avoid sharing combs or brushes between pets.If you notice any signs of ringworm, such as hair loss, scaly or itchy skin, or redness, contact your vet. 

How to Treat Ringworm In Dogs

Diagnosis! The very first step in treating ringworm in dogs is to confirm the diagnosis. Your veterinarian will perform a physical exam and may take a skin scraping or hair pluck to examine under a microscope. In some cases, they may also use a black light to look for fluorescence in affected areas of your dog’s skin.

We’ve outlined the process of diagnosing ringworm in dogs, take a good look!

Step 1Physical examination of the dog to look for typical signs of ringworm such as circular lesions and hair loss.
Step 2Wood’s lamp examination of the dog’s skin, using a special UV light to look for fluorescence that is characteristic of some ringworm species.
Step 3Fungal culture of hair and skin samples from the dog, to identify the specific species of ringworm present.
Step 4Microscopic examination of the fungal culture to confirm the presence of ringworm spores.
Step 5PCR testing, which can rapidly identify the presence of ringworm DNA in hair and skin samples.

Note: Combination of these diagnostic tests may be necessary for an accurate diagnosis of ringworm in dogs. Your veterinarian will determine which tests are needed based on your dog’s individual symptoms and history.

Treating ringworm in dogs can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s important to get it right to keep your pup and other pets safe from infection. Luckily, there are several treatment options available that can help get rid of the fungus.

To effectively treat ringworm in dogs, a combination of topical and oral medication is often recommended by veterinarians. 

The topical medication usually comes in the form of creams, ointments, or shampoos that contain anti-fungal ingredients like miconazole, terbinafine, or clotrimazole.

These are applied to the areas of skin affected by ringworm, usually with the help of a chlorhexidine & miconazole-based shampoo or a lime-sulfur dip. Sometimes, shaving the hair in affected areas or all of your dog’s hair may be necessary.

For more severe cases of ringworm, oral medication is usually prescribed. Antifungal drugs like griseofulvin, itraconazole, or terbinafine are commonly used, and they can be quite effective. Treatment usually lasts for at least six weeks, but in some cases, it may take several months for your pup to fully recover.

Note that you should never stop treatment without consulting your veterinarian first. Stopping too soon can lead to a recurrence of the fungus, which is definitely not what you want.

In addition to medication, environmental cleaning is also crucial for treating ringworm in dogs. Infected hair contains tiny fungal spores that can easily be spread around the house, so it’s important to keep things as clean as possible. 

Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that your dog comes into contact with, like floors, carpets and furniture, is a good idea. You may also need to restrict your pup to certain areas of the house that are easier to clean. While your dog has the disease, it is best to keep him away from your bed and bedding. 

As a whole, treating ringworm in dogs requires a combination of medication and environmental management. With a little bit of effort and patience, you can get rid of the fungus and keep your furry friend healthy and happy.


Dealing with ringworm in dogs is definitely not a walk in the park. But don’t lose hope! With the right veterinary care and treatment, your furry buddy can bounce back and be their usual happy and healthy self in no time.

Remember to always stick to your vet’s advice when it comes to treatment, and don’t hesitate to ask them any questions you may have. After all, they’re the experts here!

And let’s not forget about prevention. Regular grooming, a well-balanced diet, and a clean living environment are all crucial in keeping your pup ringworm-free. So, make sure to stay on top of your dog’s hygiene and health, and you’ll be able to avoid this pesky disease altogether.

Disclaimer: The content on the site is for educational purposes only, and it does not provide medical advice. The shared information must not be treated as a substitute for or alternative for medical practitioner advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Regarding any concerns about your pet’s health, seeking veterinary guidance is of utmost necessity. Each pet has specific health, fitness & nutrition needs. Do not disregard, avoid or delay pet health-related advice from veterinarians based on reading the information provided on this site.


What is the prevalence of ringworm in dogs?

Ringworm disease is fairly common in dogs, especially in younger dogs, dogs with weakened immune systems, and those living in crowded or unsanitary conditions. It is estimated that 10-20% of all skin infections in dogs are caused by ringworm. However, with prompt veterinary attention and appropriate treatment, most cases of ringworm can be successfully resolved. 

Can apple cider vinegar be used to eliminate ringworm in dogs?

This is a common question pet owners may have when dealing with ringworm in their furry friend. While some people claim that apple cider vinegar can help eliminate ringworm in dogs, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. In fact, using apple cider vinegar on your dog’s skin may cause irritation and make the condition worse.

It’s important to seek veterinary attention for your dog’s ringworm, and follow your vet’s prescribed treatment plan. This may include medicated shampoos, topical creams, and/or oral medications. In addition, it’s important to maintain good hygiene and keep your dog’s living area clean and free of fungal spores to prevent re-infection. While apple cider vinegar may have some health benefits for humans, it’s best to stick to veterinarian-approved treatments for your furry friend’s health issues.

What is the timeline for the appearance of ringworm in dogs?

When it comes to ringworm in dogs, the incubation period can range from just a few days to even weeks. As the fungus multiplies, the lesions may become irregularly shaped and spread over the dog’s body. The incubation period is 10 to 12 days. In some cases, dogs may be carriers of ringworm and show no symptoms at all, but still be able to transmit the infection to other animals or humans.

Can ringworm in dogs go away without any treatment?

In some cases, ringworm in dogs may resolve on its own without treatment. However, this is not a reliable or recommended course of action. Without proper treatment, the infection can persist and spread, causing discomfort and potential complications for your furry friend. It’s important to seek veterinary care and follow the recommended treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome for your dog’s health and well-being. 

What are the signs that indicate my dog has ringworm?

Signs that your dog may have ringworm include circular or irregularly shaped lesions on the skin, hair loss, scaly or crusty skin, and itching or redness. These lesions can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the head, paws, and ears. If you suspect that your dog may have ringworm, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.



Alex Schechter

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