How can I prevent ringworm on my dog? Get Your Pet Thinking

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With so many parasites out there, it is tempting to lump ringworm in the same category as hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. Despite its name, however, ringworm is not actually a worm—it is a fungus. This fungal infection is common all over the world and infects almost all species of domestic animals, including dogs, which is why dog owners should know the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for ringworm.

Ringworm, as the fungus is commonly called, is named for the round, raised, red ring appearance usually seen in human ringworm infections. Ringworm, scientifically known as dermatophytes, is a collection of pathogenic fungi. In dogs, 70 percent of ringworm cases are caused by the fungus Microsporum canis, 20 percent are caused by the fungus Microsporum gypseum, and just 10 percent are caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes.

The fungus grows and lives in the outermost layer of skin and in the hair follicles of infected dogs, and occasionally in the nails. The infection is superficial, and in most cases only affects a few areas of the dog’s body. Puppies, senior dogs, and immunocompromised dogs sometimes suffer from more widespread ringworm infections.

How Is Ringworm in Dogs Spread?

Dogs often acquire ringworm — or dermatophytosis, as your veterinarian might refer to it — from digging. Its relatively easy to treat and doesnt cause severe disease. However, ringworm in dogs can be difficult to manage, due to the fact that its highly contagious and can be transmitted via fomites.

A fomite is any object or material that can carry an infection. In short, anything your pet touches can harbor and transmit ringworm to other dogs, cats or people. Any brushes, bedding, food, water bowls or toys — anything your dog comes in contact with — should be disinfected if ringworm enters the picture.

Additionally, any infected dog is considered highly contagious to other animals and humans. Wear gloves or wash your hands and clothes after handling your pet, and keep them quarantined until your vet declares that theyre free of infection.

How long will my dog be contagious?

Infected pets remain contagious for about three weeks if aggressive treatment is used. The ringworm infection will last longer and remain contagious for an extended time if only minimal measures are taken or if you are not compliant with the prescribed approach. Minimizing exposure to other dogs or cats and to your family members is recommended during this period. Two consecutive negative fungal cultures will indicate successful treatment of your dog.

How to Treat Ringworm on a Dog