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Ringworm in Dogs

Updated on August 18, 2012

Picture of Dog with Ringworms

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Ringworms in Dogs: Overview

Ringworms occurrence in dogs is one of the most misunderstood phenomenon by a good number of dog owners. It is in this regard that I would like to begin by emphasizing that there is a difference between the ringworms in dogs and worm infestation in dogs. Your dog gets worms through a number of ways that are discussed here. Unlike worms ringworms are not caused by worms such as Toxocara Canis, Tapeworms, Heartworms and Hookworms. Here are important facts that you should know about ringworms in dogs.

What are Ringworms in Dogs?

Ringworms can be described as lesions that you may observe on your dog’s skin and they are characterized by a patchy appearance that has eccentric rounded center that may be red in color or appear like dry crusts that are reddish to yellow in color. From this description you can see that ringworms are not whatsoever any kind of dog worms but skin lesions that can occur either as diffuse or localized skin lesions in the following body parts:

  • Head and Neck Region
  • Dog Ears
  • Paws
  • Limbs

These ringworms can be often seen as bald patches in the dog skin and may be ignored and may develop to a severe skin condition with advanced symptoms.

What Causes Ringworms in Dogs?

Ringworms in dogs are caused by fungus. Fungus is responsible for development of ringworms especially in the dogs that have immune suppression or puppies.

Symptoms of Ringworms in Dogs

  • Lesions on the Skin

Ringworms in dogs begin by small rounded lesions on the skin and they can be located at any point in the dog's body. They begin at the point of contact with the infected dog where the contamination occurs. Fungus the causative agent of dog ringworms spreads via infective spores.

  • Dry Crusty Lesions

The lesion may progress to increase in diameter forming ulcer like centers that eventually dry up leaving some dry patchy crusts. Appearance of these patchy circular lesions should be an early warning sign of ringworms infection in your dog. Seeking professional intervention in the early stage is paramount to help you prevent further spread to other body parts as well as other dogs.

  • Alopecia (Hair loss)

Depending with your dog breed the hair loss can be the first indicator for dog breeds that have a long hair. Hair loss occurs in patches that are infected and may eventually cover the entire body.

  • Location of Lesions

These lesions may begin like one lesion that is localized to one area but within no time the lesions can be observed to have spread all over the dog's skin.


  • This is a highly contagious dog skin condition that can have devastating effects on the health of your dog and other dogs sharing the same environment.

Transmission of Ringworms in Dogs

Transmission of ringworms from one dog to another comes via contact of the infected dog with other dogs.The infection can also be spread through environmental factors like the beddings, kennels and other items shared in the same environment of both the infected dogs and uninfected dogs.


  • In a suspected case of ringworms infection the dog that is infected should receive immediate veterinary attention and should be isolated from other dogs to curb the spread of this infection
  • Puppies are also more susceptible to infection by adult dogs. When puppies are infected their health deteriorates since their immunity against diseases and parasites is not fully developed.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Ringworms in Dogs

  • Diagnosis of Ringworms

The fungal infection may be one of the most difficult skin conditions to treat but with dedication and care fungus can be eliminated completely using the available medication. The specimen collected for diagnosis is the hair and scrapping from the lesions. They are stained and examined microscopically to identify the spores that are the active disease spreading agents.

The diagnosis is also carried out by examining the lesions on the dog’s skin, their extension, their location and their general appearance. If they are characteristic ringworm lesions a tentative diagnosis can be made and treatment effected.

  • Treatment of Ringworms

Ringworms are treated depending on whether the condition is severe or mild. In some incidents the ringworms are easily treated with medicated dog shampoos. These medicated dog shampoos should contain the active antifungal agent that is popularly known as micanazole. Other dog owners choose to use lime sulfur to dip their dog and it works well for mild ringworms infections and doubles ups as a good ecto-parasites elimination agent.

In severe ringworm infection is good to augment the dips and shampoos with oral antifungal treatment as you may be advised by your Vet.

Controlling Spread of Ringworms amongst other Dogs

Environmental disinfection and taking precautionary measures to protect other dogs may be necessary. You should use a good disinfectant to clean the dog environment and the kennels.

In a brooding kennel it may be necessary you keep the sick dog in isolation to prevent the disease spread. These are the few but very important measures that you should take to prevent the spread of ringworms to other dogs.


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