Ringworm is not actually a parasitic worm, but a fungal infection that dogs may get at least once in their life. As common as it is, ringworm can be easily treated at home. Read on to learn more about safe and effective dog ringworm remedies you can try.
What is dog ringworm?
Ringworm does not only affect dogs, but also most other mammals — including humans. Ringworm refers to both the fungus and the infection, and it is so-called because of the raised and red ring that appears on a human’s infected skin.
There are actually a number of pathogenic fungi that cause ringworm. In dogs, the Microsporum canis fungus is responsible for about 70% of ringworm infections; Microsporum gypseum causes 20% of infections; and Trichophyton mentagrophytes causes the remaining 10% of infections.
The areas where the ringworm typically grows are the skin and hair follicles of dogs; sometimes, the nails also get infected. Ringworm infection is only superficial — that is, it does not spread inside the body. In most cases, the infection is only limited to a few, small areas. But some dogs — particularly puppies, dogs that are immunocompromised, and senior dogs — have a higher risk of developing widespread ringworm infections.
Ringworm spores are responsible for spreading the infection. They can spread through shedding of the spores by an infected animal or person or when infected hairs break off. A dog can pick up the spores from direct contact with an infected animal or person or with a contaminated surface. The fungal spores are infectious up to 18 months.
How can you tell if your dog has ringworm?
A ringworm infection in dogs is typically characterized by circular bald spots or hair loss with lesions within the affected areas. The lesions increase in size, and form scabby or inflamed patches at the center. The affected hair follicles become brittle and easily break; if the nails get infected, these, too, become brittle and rough. Itchiness of the affected areas is not common.
If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, it’s best to take him to the vet.
- Circular patches of hair loss
- Scabs on the affected areas
- Inflammation of the affected areas
- Hair that has become dry and brittle
- Nails that have become brittle and rough
Skin conditions may also point to other problems, such as allergies, a parasitic infection, a different fungal infection, a bacterial infection, nutrient imbalance, thyroid problems, or Cushing’s disease. In order to give your dog the correct treatment, his condition must be properly diagnosed by a vet.
Home remedy for dog ringworm
A ringworm infection is easily treatable and does not cause any serious complications. It is, however, highly contagious, so proper and immediate treatment is important.
Your vet may recommend a treatment plan which may include any or a combination of the following: topical treatment; oral medication; and/or decontamination of your home. If you have a long-haired dog, you may have to trim his hair and shave the affected areas to make the topical treatment work more quickly. Treatment for ringworm usually takes months, and it’s important to follow and complete the treatment to make sure that the infection and all spores are fully eradicated from your dog’s body.
You can also try the following natural home remedies — but make sure that the condition has been correctly identified as ringworm by your vet.
You will have to wash your dog using the anti-fungal shampoo every other day until the circular lesions are completely gone.
Apple cider vinegar rinse
ACV has soothing and antifungal properties. Make a solution of equal parts ACV and water in a spray bottle. Spray the infected areas two to three times a day, every day, and until the skin condition visibly improves.
CBD oil treatment
CBD has calming and anti-inflammatory properties that may help hasten the improvement of your dog’s skin condition. Wet a cotton ball with the oil and gently dab on the affected areas; do this once a day until the infection clears up. Make sure to use only good quality CBD oil with zero or less than 0.3% THC, as THC is toxic to dogs, and to get the okay from your vet.
Remember that reinfection may occur if you do not completely get rid of all the fungal spores, so decontamination of your home is just as important as treating your dog and make sure that you complete the course of treatment recommended by your vet — even if your dog no longer shows any visible signs of an infection, do not discontinue treatment.