="ringworm in pets"


RINGWORM IN PETS 494 363 Ekua Esuon Thompson

Photo Credit: © 2022 Merck & Co., Inc.

The name Ringworm may suggest an infection caused by a worm; however, this condition isn’t caused by a worm at all, but a fungus, “Microsporum canis” which can cause a generalized skin infection.  It is often associated with severe hair or fur loss and creates a ‘worm-like’ or circular rash at the site of infection, hence the name Ringworm. This highly contagious disease easily spreads to other animals and humans as well.


Most often, the source of infection is through direct contact with an infected pet or through the sharing of contaminated bedding, kennels (especially in shelters and breeding houses where dogs comingle and crowd together), toys, rugs, feeding bowls, etc. The fungal spores can remain dormant and only grow under favourable environmental conditions. Animals that like digging and playing in the soil also expose themselves to the fungus.  It is worth noting that, dogs (especially puppies less than a year old) are more prone to ringworm infection. Similarly, malnourished, immunocompromised, and stressed dogs are also at a greater risk of infection.


Key symptoms of ringworm in dogs include:

  • Skin lesions that typically appear on the head, ears, paws and limbs.
  • Patchy, crusted, scaly and circular bald spots that sometimes look red in the center and may be itchy.
  • In mild cases, there may be just a few broken hairs, whilst in severe cases it spreads over most of a dog’s body.
  • Toenails may be brittle and easily broken.

NB: It’s also possible for a pet to carry the fungus and not show any symptoms whatsoever.


It is necessary that you see your vet for an accurate diagnosis if your pet is showing any signs of a skin problem as the infection can potentially spread over your pet’s body and infect other animals and people. Diagnostic options available to a veterinarian may include using an ultraviolet light (Wood Lamp examination) to see the extent of the infection, or examining a fungal culture taken from the affected area.


Treatment of ringworm depends on the severity of the infection. A veterinarian may prescribe a medicated shampoo or ointment that kills fungi. In some cases, oral medications are necessary, but usually for long periods. It is important to treat your dog for as long as recommended by your veterinarian. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that reinfection won’t occur.

If your veterinarian has diagnosed your dog with ringworm, he or she will explain what you must do to prevent the fungus from spreading to other pets and human members of the household. But keep in mind that if you have other pets, it’s likely that most of them have been exposed as well. Your veterinarian may recommend that you do the following:

  • Bathe all pets in the household with a medicated rinse or shampoo.
  • Wash the infected animals’ bedding and toys with a disinfectant that kills ringworm spores.
  • Discard items that are impossible to thoroughly disinfect (e.g., carpeted cat trees)
  • Frequently vacuum to rid the house of infected hairs and skin cells as the fungus can survive on hair and skin that your dog sheds.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands after you bathe or touch your pet.