Ringworm in dogs

dog playing in mud
Written by: Sam Webster (BVetMed MRCVS) Head Vet at Joii

Ringworm is a skin condition that affects dogs, cats and other animals. Whilst it isn’t serious, it does need treatment. Ringworm is highly contagious and can spread very easily between dogs and also to other animals and even humans.

In this post, we’ll go into a little more detail about what exactly ringworm is, the symptoms to look out for, how to treat it in dogs and what you should be aware of as a dog owner.

What is ringworm?


Despite the name, ringworm isn’t actually a worm but a fungal infection very similar to athlete’s foot in humans. It causes raised, crusty, hairless patches of skin on your furry friend, often shaped like a ring, although sometimes hair loss may be the only sign.

Ringworm isn’t life-threatening in any way, but it’s a very contagious infection that can live in the environment and on surfaces for up to 2 years. The affected hair follicles are quite brittle and break easily, which can increase the spread of the infection. 

How do dogs get ringworm?


Dogs catch and spread ringworm by coming into direct contact with the fungus. This can be when they come into direct contact with an infected animal or person or touch a contaminated object such as a couch, comb, food bowls, bedding, clothing or even the carpet.


Symptoms of ringworm


It’s important to know the symptoms of ringworm so you can catch the infection as early as possible before it gets worse or gets passed onto any other pets or even humans. We’ve listed the main symptoms below – so if you notice any or all of these in your dog it would be best to take them to the vet as soon as possible:

  • Areas of hair loss (often circular)
  • Dry and brittle hair
  • Scabby and inflamed skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Dandruff
  • Rough, brittle claws



How to treat ringworm


Your vet will usually diagnose ringworm in your dog by checking them over with a special lamp to look for ringworm and taking samples of hair and skin cells to send to a laboratory for testing.

Once ringworm has been diagnosed, your vet will take you through a treatment plan for your dog, which will differ for each dog with ringworm depending on each case and other factors such as the number of pets in the household.

Ringworm treatment usually consists of topical therapy such as a cream, ointment or medicated shampoo to help treat and control the infection. They may also prescribe oral medications to fight the infection and stop the ringworm from reproducing, as well as advise on “environmental decontamination” to prevent it from spreading any further as the disease is quite contagious and can survive on surfaces, tools, clothing for months at a time.


When you buy pet insurance through Asda Money you’ll get access to a 24-hour Vet Advice Line so you can always find information if you’re worried. Having dog insurance also means you’re protected against those unexpected vet bills and treatments.

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