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How to Tell if Your Dog has Ringworm

Updated on July 13, 2010

Your dog can get ringworm even from cats

dog ringworm fungal skin disorder,emmiP,
dog ringworm fungal skin disorder,emmiP,

You groom your dog one morning and you find a hairless patch the size of a quarter. Then some time later you find another one and then another one. Concerned about these unsightly spots, you take your dog to the vet for a diagnosis. ''Ringworm'', a fungal condition, is likely the cause, according to the vet and he prescribes you a topical anti-fungal cream to apply on the patchy areas for about 10 days. 

The first time dog owners hear the word ''ringworm'' they very likely think they are dealing with some sort of parasite. Instead the word is misleading as ringworm is caused by a fungus. There are theories that the word ''ringworm'' may have originated because from the past belief that the patchy circular areas were caused by some sort of worm that dug them up perhaps in a similar way we see worms dig holes in apples. 

The fungus behind the unsightly patches can belong to different families: Microsporum canis, (the most common) Microsporumgypseum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. This fungus is highly contagious to other dogs, cats and people, so you will want to take care of keeping your dog away from your other dogs and pets, disinfecting common area and washing your hands thoroughly after handling him.

How to Tell Your Dogs has Ringworm

Hairless patches, the size of a quarter may be descriptive enough of ringworm, but not always. There are many skin conditions that may share the same symptoms and this is the main reason why veterinarians have a hard time coming to a diagnosis by looks alone.  Also, ringworm does not necessarily always show as round patches and may appear as large hairless areas or irregular shapes and sizes. Very likely your vet will  therefore take a skin scraping and send it out to a laboratory. Since it may take some time for the results to come in, sometimes veterinarians will prescribe anti-fungal creams right away if ringworm as at the top of their suspicions. .

Owners may try to find out if their dog has ringworm by using an ultraviolet light or black light.  About 50% of ringworm cases will cause the lesion to glow. A bright apple green fluorescence found on the hair shafts may help diagnose the dog. However, if the lesion does not glow consider that it  does not necessarily mean the dog does not have ringworm. Many veterinarians will perform this test in their offices. 

Another way to tell if your dog has ringworm is if he has been exposed to other dogs with this condition. If your dog has frequented a dog grooming center, a kennel or  has been in contact with other dogs or stray cats, then he may have picked up this skin disorder from these places and these animals. Consider that the incubation time, that is the time between when your dog was in contact with the potential cause and the time the first symptoms arise, may be around 10 to 12  days. 

Consider though that at times dogs can pick up the disease from an infected environment. This means all it it takes is exposure to infected materials such as bedding, carpets, hair clippers, combs and even dirt. Even exposure to other dogs that appear healthy may cause ringworm as some dogs may be carriers of the skin disorder without showing any signs of actual disease. 

If you suspect ringworm in your dog, your best bet is to have your dog see your vet. Your vet can only prescribe the most effective treatment and confirm or rule out this annoying skin condition. Even though ringworm eventually clears up on its own,  prescription medications will shorten the course of the disease lessening the amount of time your dog may be contagious. 

Common Ringworm Treatments

Ringworm Treatment Breeder Grande Pack - Treating Ringworm
Ringworm Treatment Breeder Grande Pack - Treating Ringworm

Ringworm Treatment Kit Includes: (1) Gallon Environmental Disinfectant Spray (2) Medicated Pet Wash (2) Pet Anti-Fungal Healing Skin Gel (2) Pet Anti-Fungal Skin Cream



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    • jandee profile image

      jandee 7 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Scary ! Lot's of poor stray cats hang around my gate as the man next door feeds them and now I'm worried,jandee

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 7 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      I 've had dogs all my life. You taught me something.(I thought I knew all about dog's skin issues by now......) I'm lucky I'm following you! I'll make sure to keep my dog Sweetie Pie away from cats with ringworm.Thanks.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Informative hub. Take care of your pet and they take care of you!