Ringworms on Dogs

Ringworms on Dogs

Contrary to its name, ringworms are not caused by worms but rather fungus called Dermatophytes which means “plants that live on skin”. Before, people thought that these round lesions are caused by worms hence, the term ringworm was given. It is actually a skin problem usually caused by a plant or skin contact to other dogs either direct or indirect contact. It can also be passed from dogs to cats and from cats to dogs and often from human beings to dogs and vise versa. The spore of the fungus usually lives in the environment for a long time. It can be found in carpets, clothes, beddings, etc and infects your dog when it comes into contact with their skin.

The fungus usually stays in hair follicles near the head, ears, tail and front paws which cause hair shafts to break off. This disease would appear as a circle on the dog’s skin with raised edges. It looks like the hair was removed with a pale spot at the center. Other symptoms would include itchiness, scaling and crusty skin with some redness. A patch that is irregular in shape would mean that two or more lesions joined together. It’s easier to see this disease to younger dogs than that of the adults.

The younger dogs and puppies are more susceptible for infection since their immune system has not fully developed yet. Healthy dogs typically develop resistance to ringworms. Some may be carriers but show no symptoms, then later on infect other animals or even human beings.

Treatment should be started as soon as ringworm is diagnosed through culture and microscopic studies. Usually the entire course of this disease is from two to four months but if left unattended it would later on spread and infect other body parts or even infect human beings.

Griseofulvin may be prescribed by the veterinarian for your dog. It is an anti-fungal drug that inhibits fungal reproduction. It is widely used and recommended by the vet because it is very effective and would also prevent reoccurance of the fungus. Keep in mind that this oral medication has side effects like abortion and birth defects if given to pregnant dogs, so be sure to consult a veterinarian first before giving the medication. Usually, topical medications are not advised because dogs will just lick them out before it takes effect.

Treatments don’t work over night. Veterinarian might also consider giving your dog a lime sulfur dip baths twice a week. It may be performed at home or at the clinic. Remember that this will stain clothing and jewelries and will cause temporary yellowing of the skin and of the coat of the dog. It is also advisable to bath your dog every other day using an anti-fungal shampoo. The lather of the shampoo should be left for at least 5 minutes to destroy and eliminate fungal spores.

Fungus spores might spread throughout the house by the infected dog which might cause reinfection to dogs and might infect humans that live in the home. In order to prevent this, it is important to clean the house with bleach mixed with water at 1:10 ratio on all surface exposed. Vacuum and steam cleaning would eliminate a large number of spores and don’t forget to clean beddings and couches as well. It is also advisable to confine and isolate the dog in one room or area during the entire treatment course.

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