Despite what its name suggests, ringworm is actually a fungal infection rather than a worm. Because of the circular lesions caused by a ringworm infection, the fungus was originally believed to be a worm. The name remains but today’s veterinarians understand that ringworm fungi live on the surface of the skin. Ringworm lesions are marked by dead skin and hair loss in the affected area.
You can identify ringworm in dogs by the presence of round, hairless lesions on the surface of your dog’s skin. Ringworm lesions in humans and dogs are not identical but regardless of the animal infected the lesions will grow if left untreated. Moreover, ringworm lesions are not perfectly round and as they grow they may become irregular in shape. As the infection progresses, ringworm fungi weaken the hair so it breaks off. Ringworm lesions are commonly found on a dog’s face, ears, tail, and paws. They are scaly and may be red, swollen, and itchy.
Transmission of ringworm occurs when there is direct contact with an infected animal. Moreover, ringworm can be passed between species. This means if your dog has ringworm other humans and pets are at risk for infection with the fungus. In fact, ringworm can also be contracted from farm animals and even with as little pet contact as petting. As such, it is very important to treat a ringworm infection before it has the opportunity to spread to new hosts.
Once ringworm has been diagnosed, you must decontaminate your home. One of the most effective methods is to use a 10% bleach mixture and wipe down all surfaces. Vacuum thoroughly and even consider having a professional carpet and upholstery cleaner come in to clean your carpets and furniture. In addition, you will need to seek veterinary treatment for your pets. Your doctor will recommend medication and possibly a shampoo treatment to kill the fungus and prevent future infections.