How to Treat Ringworm in Dogs
Ringworm is a common yet serious problem that dogs often can get. While it is treatable, you need to be careful when trying to heal your dog, as if not done right, will only cause their ringworm problem to worsen. Below you’ll find more information about this disease and how you can treat canine ringworm.
What is Ringworm in Dogs?
Dermatophytosis, better known as ringworm, is a fungal infection that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, hair, and nails. It can hurt your dog’s immune system which can cause problems such as dry skin, excessive itchiness, and dandruff.
Can Dogs Get Ringworm?
Yes, dogs can absolutely get ringworm. Unfortunately, because they tend to be around many animals and walk and sniff in dirty places, ringworm is a common problem in dogs.
How Do Dogs Get Ringworm?
There are a few different ways a dog can get ringworm. The first, and most common, is when they come into contact with an animal or human who might have the disease. It could also be spread if your dog comes into contact with certain objects affected with ringworm, like a brush, piece of furniture, or bedding, which can cause your dog to get this disease.
If your dog has a skin infection, it could also invite ringworm to enter the wound or oozing areas. Sometimes soil also could have ringworm in it, especially if many animals play in or use that area, which could then cause it to be passed to your dog when they sniff or play in that spot.
Is Ringworm in Dogs Contagious?
Dog ringworm can be contagious as it can spread to both animals and humans. This is especially so for those who might have a weaker immune system. Because of this, it’s best to stay away from a dog that has ringworm or use extreme caution and always wash your hands and clean off areas where they might have been.
How to Prevent the Spreading of Ringworm
There are a few ways you can help to prevent ringworm from spreading if your dog has it.
Always Wash Your Hands
After petting your dog or handling something used by them, always make sure to thoroughly wash your hands. While a simple pat on the head might not seem like much, it can transmit bacteria to your hands. If you don’t wash them, it will then spread on your body. Because of this, you always want to make sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap.
Keep the Environment Clean
Another way to prevent ringworm from dog from spreading is to vigorously clean the areas where they tend to be. While it might take some time and effort, by making sure to vacuum up hair and wiping off tables and furniture that they might have touched, you can help to prevent ringworm from spreading and lingering around in a certain environment.
Always Clean Their Bowls and Toys
In addition to household items, you should also make sure to clean their bowls and toys, especially if you have other animals who might use them. You should rinse them with soapy warm water and vinegar to help kill off any ringworm bacteria that might be on them. This will not only help to protect other pets, but keep your dog healthy.
Are Certain Dogs More Susceptible to Ringworm Than Others?
While there is no one breed that is particularly prone to getting ringworm, puppies, elderly dogs, and those with long hair tend to get it often. Puppies and older dogs usually get it because their immune system isn’t very good. On the other hand, long-haired dogs tend to get ringworm because of their long and thick hair which can make it difficult to clean and see beginning symptoms.
What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Dog?
There are a few ways you can tell if there’s ringworm on dogs. One to look for is dry and patchy skin. For some dogs, this might look like a very red spot, while for others it could be grey. Another sign of ringworm can be lesions on the body which can be anywhere, especially on their paws, ears, and head. This is also true for ringworm on dogs face where you might see red spots or patches of fur missing. There could also be swollen lesions on their mouth and around their ears.
If you want to see actual cases of ringworms in dogs, you’ll find many dog ringworm pictures online you can see to help tell whether your dog might have this issue.
Ringworm Symptoms of Dogs
If you’re still not quite sure whether or not your dog has ringworm, you might want to keep an eye out for the following symptoms.
Also known as alopecia, hair loss can be a major sign of ringworm in dogs. Sometimes hair loss can occur in one area or it can be all over. Dog hair loss due to ringworm can be patchy or come out in strange circular patches. Ringworm is able to encourage hair loss due to the bacteria hurting the hair follicles which can cause them to release any hair in that area due to irritation.
Irritated skin is a common sign of ringworm in dogs. This can range from grey patchy areas to deep red ones. It can also lead to lesions around the body which tend to be located on the paws, head, and legs. For some dogs, this irritated skin might cause itchiness, while for others it won’t, but rather be a painful inflamed area.
Due to the ringworm bacteria causing severe hair loss and irritated skin, it could lead to extreme itchiness. The dry, scaly skin can be very irritating which can lead to your dog trying to get relief from it through itching. Although sometimes this could lead to wounds and extra lesions because the skin is delicate and their nails could be sharp.
A dog’s coat should be soft, so when you find that your pet has very dry and brittle hair, it can be a concern. Dry hair could be a sign of your dog having ringworm as the bacteria will hurt the hair follicles leading to this problem. Because this disease also causes dry skin, it can prevent their fur from being naturally hydrated.
Ringworm can also cause your dog’s nails to become brittle and easily broken. While this won’t be the case for some dogs, those who have the bacteria infecting their paws and legs could end up having severely rough nails.
How to Treat Ringworm in Dogs: How to Get Rid of Ringworm in Dogs
Your vet will usually do a biopsy of the affected area by taking a sampling of skin. Some might also use Wood’s lamp, which works as a blacklight, to highlight any possible ringworms in your dog. After a few rounds of testing, your vet will be able to better tell if your dog does in fact have ringworm and work on writing prescriptions for medications that will help heal your dog.
There are many medications that can help to treat ringworm in your dog. Below are some common types your vet might use to help heal your furry friend.
A Topical Cream
Some vets will prescribe a topical cream you can use on your dog. This is usually Clotrimazole Cream which helps to hydrate your pet’s skin while destroying the ringworm inside them. It’s able to do this by stopping the growth of fungal cells which prevents it from growing. This ringworm medication for dogs is also very affordable making it ideal for those who are on a budget.
There are a few pills your vet might give your dog, like Terbinafine and Itraconazole. After being internally ingested, the pills will get to work killing off any harmful bacteria inside your dog. However, you need to make sure to keep giving your dog these pills as prescribed by your veterinarian as stopping too soon could result in the bacteria reemerging.
Sometimes you can buy medicated shampoos without a prescription. These shampoos contain various medications and antibacterial chemicals, like Miconazole Nitrate and Chlorhexidine Gluconate to help bring relief to your dog. The shampoo usually needs to be used twice a week for a few weeks before results are seen.
Your vet then might give you some chewable tablets which contain ringworm medications. These tablets are usually taken about once a month and are designed to help prevent any further development of ringworm in your dog.
Keep in mind that these options could have severe side effects, like extra skin irritations and an upset stomach. Because of this, it’s important to talk with your vet beforehand about the possible side effects and what to do if they occur. If you do find your dog having side effects to their medications stop giving it to them and immediately contact your vet.
Ringworm on Dogs Treatment at Home
You’ll find a few ways you can treat ringworm naturally in dogs. Below are some treatment options to consider.
Try an Apple Cider Vinegar Wash
Apple cider vinegar is well known for its cleansing properties which is why it’s perfect to use to help treat ringworm. You can dip a clean cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and then rub it over the area where the ringworm is located. This can help to remove bacteria in the area while also killing off the ringworm. For best results, you’ll want to do this wash about three times per day.
Rub Some Tea Tree Oil on the Area
Tea tree oil is very helpful when it comes to relieving fungal infections. It’s often used as an all-natural treatment for ringworm because of its amazing antibacterial properties. You can pour the tea tree oil in a clean bowl and then dip a clean cloth or cotton ball into it and then rub it on the affected area.
You can also dilute tea tree oil in coconut oil which also has some impressive antifungal properties. It also can help hydrate dry and irritated skin which is usually caused by ringworm. You can put a few drops of tea tree oil in about one or two tablespoons of coconut oil and then rub it in the area where the ringworm is.
Keep in mind that while tea tree oil is safe to use on the skin, for some dogs, it could cause irritations if they have sensitive skin. Because of this, it’s best to dilute before applying it on their skin or consider using a different method to help naturally heal their ringworm.
Use Some Turmeric
Turmeric is a powerful spice that can be used to heal many health issues, including ringworm. This is due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which work to heal areas that are affected by the bacteria.
To use turmeric to help dog ringworm, you can mix about a tablespoon of turmeric in a few drops of filtered water. You then want to stir it around until it forms a paste. How you then give it to your dog depends on your preferences. You can wipe the turmeric paste on the affected area or have your dog lick the paste.
Rub Aloe Vera on the Infected Area
You could also try gently massaging aloe vera gel on the infected area. Because of its antibacterial properties, aloe vera helps to destroy and prevent ringworm. It also works to hydrate and moisturize the skin which can relieve many of the irritating side effects ringworm can bring.
Try Lemongrass Extract
Lemongrass extract not only smells great, but it’s very helpful when it comes to healing bacterial infections thanks to high levels of antioxidants and antiseptic properties in it. If you decide to use lemongrass extract, make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil. This will help to prevent the lemongrass from causing irritations but also provide extra relief and hydration to the affected spots.
Use Soap and Water
Another dog ringworm treatment home remedy is to use soap and water. By using warm water and antibacterial soap, it will help to remove dry skin while also making sure the area stays clean. This can help to prevent ringworm from spreading. However, make sure to always pat the area dry to stop moisture from forming. Otherwise, the ringworm problem will only get worse as it grows in a moist environment.
You’ll find many antibacterial soaps which usually contain essential oils in them. While this is helpful, you also want to consider looking for organic options. This means the soap won’t contain harmful chemicals in them which could worsen their ringworm problem or cause severe skin irritations.
Use Neem Oil
Neem oil, which comes from the neem tree, is a powerful antibacterial treatment to use to heal ringworm. It will not only stop bacterial growth, but also heal lesions and wounds. You can take some neem oil, put it on a cotton swab, and then directly wipe it on affected areas. If your dog has sensitive skin, make sure to dilute it to prevent irritation. Neem oil also has a very bitter taste, so if you’re concerned about your dog licking it off, there’s no need to worry as it will more than likely be very repulsive to them.
Rub Some Holy Basil on the Infected Area
Another ringworm treatment for dogs is to use holy basil. You can soak some of the leaves in water to extract oil from them or buy holy basil extract to put on their wounds. It’s very gentle on the skin so there’s no need to worry about it causing pain to your dog. Holy basil tends to work very quickly thanks to the high amounts of antibacterial properties.
Make a Papaya Paste
Surprisingly, papaya paste is an excellent ringworm treatment. While you shouldn’t feed your dog papaya slices, you can make a paste out of the fruit to apply to their skin. You should use raw papaya and then cut it up into slices and blend them up to make a smooth paste. Once you do so, you can then gently spread the paste in the affected areas and leave it on for a few minutes so it gets absorbed before wiping it off.
If you don’t want to make a paste, you can also just take the papaya slices and hold them by hand on the infected areas. If you do this, make sure to use fresh slices for each wound to help prevent spreading any bacteria.
Ringworm is a terrible bacterial disease that can make your dog very miserable. Because of this, it’s important to try to provide them with relief as soon as possible. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to use to help destroy any signs of ringworm in them, like medications, turmeric paste, and tea tree oil. Due to this, treating ringworm in dogs is very easy to do, but requires time and patience.
Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.
Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. We Love You!
The Innovet Team
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.