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ringworm in dogs

Health & Wellness

Ringworm in dogs: symptoms and treatment

How to protect your pet and yourself

During your nightly snuggles, you notice missing patches of fur on your dog. And now that you think about it, your best friend has been itching more than usual, too. These are two signs that your dog could be suffering from ringworm. Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough shares everything you need to know about ringworm to treat it fast. 

What is ringworm? 

Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is a very contagious fungal infection (it’s not an actual worm) common in pets (more so in dogs than cats). This infection should be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible because it can easily spread and contaminate the environment pets live in by getting into carpets, furniture, air vents and even affecting the people around them. 

How do you know if your dog has ringworm? 

Young and older dogs are more likely to contract ringworm, especially if they have immature or weak immune systems. Dogs who have ringworm typically experience patchy hair loss. However, some other symptoms may include: 

  • Skin redness
  • Scaling
  • Crusting
  • Itchiness (however, it’s not always present)
Infographic describing the symptoms of ringworm in dogs

Ringworm treatment for dogs

Visit your vet immediately if you think your dog is suffering from ringworm. They can usually make a diagnosis based on your pup’s health history, clinical signs and a few diagnostics tests. 

Treating ringworm depends on the severity of your dog’s lesions and the number of infected pets in your household. In very mild cases, antifungal shampoos and topicals may do the trick. However, severely infected animals often require the same topical treatments and a long course of oral medications. To fully remove the infection, your home (air ducts included) should be deep-cleaned, too. 

Does Lysol disinfectant kill ringworm? 

Lysol, a brand of disinfectant, can kill ringworm on non-living surfaces. However, don’t spray this on your pup. 

Does hand sanitizer kill ringworm? 

Ringworm lives below the surface of the skin, so hand sanitizer may not protect you. Never apply hand sanitizer or alcohol (of any kind) to your pet. 

Does bleach kill ringworm? 

Diluted bleach solutions kill ringworm on non-living surfaces, but never apply bleach to your pet. 

How contagious is ringworm from a dog to a human? 

Ringworm is very contagious between dogs and people. It can be transferred by touching your pet’s skin, especially if you have a cut or open wound. If you’ve contracted ringworm from your pet, it may appear as a small, itchy circular rash with a clear center.

If you think you have ringworm, quarantine your dog to a specific area of your home and contact your vet for next steps. Some other tips to stop the spread are: 

  • Wash your pup’s bedding daily
  • Disinfect sofas, furnishings, food bowls, toys (anything your pet interacts with)
  • Keep giving your dog treatments, even if the skin lesions disappear and fur begins to regrow (as long as your vet approves)
  • Wash your hands after interacting with your pet


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Dog hotspot vs. ringworm

Hot spots on dogs are different from ringworm markings because they are red, moist, painful and intensely itchy patches of skin. Ringworm, on the other hand, often appears as hairless, dry and flaky or crusty spots. 

Ringworm isn’t fun for your pet (or you), but knowing how to spot it and your treatment options will make it much easier to manage.

Photo by Austin Kirk on Unsplash

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