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Does My Dog Have Ringworm?

Written by Anna Hollisey


Black Scottish Terrier having a scratch

Ringworm is a highly contagious and very irritating skin condition which is transmitted through microscopic spores in the environment. If your dog has it, they’ll probably be OK – but you might want to keep the vacuum handy.

What is Ringworm?

It’s an unpleasant name, but Ringworm isn’t actually a worm. It’s a fungus which is transmitted through spores which live in the environment and cause this condition when they come into contact with broken skin.

Ringworm most commonly appears on a dog’s belly, nose or paws, and looks like irritated skin/learn/dog-health/supplements-and-home-remedies-for-dogs-with-itchy-skin

What Are the Symptoms of Ringworm?

Even though it’s named after the characteristic circular lesions, ringworm doesn’t always form red rings. It’s a skin condition which causes hair loss, so you might notice that first. Hair is lost from the patches which are infected, and the skin can become inflamed or develop crusty scabs

The inflamed skin/learn/dog-health/do-i-need-to-worry-about-my-dogs-dry-skin is usually seen in several places and can cause infections, especially if it affects the paws. 

What is the Treatment for Ringworm in Dogs?

First, get an official diagnosis from your vet. They can check the site of infection using a UV lamp which shows up some types of ringworm. If that doesn’t work, they might take samples of your dog’s skin for testing. Medical conditions shouldn’t be diagnosed from an article on the internet, we’re just here as your starting point and to help you decide if it’s time to book a visit to the vet. 

Ringworm is treated with a topical cream or shampoo as well as an oral, anti-fungal medication. You might be advised to treat all dogs in your home, and they’ll be re-tested to see whether the ringworm is still present. You’ll also need to try to remove spores from your home environment – see below.

Can I Catch Ringworm From My Dog?

Yes – some kinds of ringworm (dermatophytes) can be passed to humans. If your vet tested a sample of skin, they’ll be able to tell you whether it’s a risk to people in the household. 

You’ll only catch it through contact if you have broken skin (such as scratches, grazes, or eczema). Those with low immunity (including older people and children) are more likely to catch ringworm. But it can be treated – get advice from your doctor.

How To Prevent the Spread of Ringworm

Because ringworm is spread through spores, it can be quite difficult to eliminate from the home environment. These tiny spores can survive for 18 months on hard surfaces (like food bowls or combs) as well as soft surfaces (like furniture and carpet). 

That means there’s a risk of reinfection as well as human contamination. 

Vacuuming is your first line of defence – ensure you pick up all dog hair as often as possible. You can also clean hard surfaces using a bleach solution, and frequency is your friend! You might want to restrict your dog’s movements for a while; don’t let them on beds or couches/learn/dog-lifestyle/should-my-dog-be-allowed-on-the-furniture for the first few weeks and, if possible, keep them in an area that’s easy to keep clean.

Further Reading

Could it be something other than Ringworm? Read our guide to skin irritations in pups/learn/dog-health/red-spots-on-my-puppys-belly-what-does-it-mean. During winter, dry skin is common in dogs/learn/dog-health/dog-winter-skin-problems-and-how-to-avoid-them. If you prefer natural remedies, check out our list of ideas for managing dry skin at home/learn/dog-health/supplements-and-home-remedies-for-dogs-with-itchy-skin