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Dealing With Ringworms in Dogs

Ringworm is a skin condition caused by fungi. Ringworms derive their name from their appearance on the skin. They appear as rings with a hairless patch at the centre of the lesion. This is one of the most common health problems in dogs and hence should require some attention from pet owners.

Though the ring shaped lesion is characteristic in ringworms some other diseases will present with the same sign thus proper diagnosis has to be made before any treatment is done.

Ringworms in dogs are diagnosed by use of various techniques such as isolation of the fungi from skin scrapings or using a wood’s lamp to observe the lesions. The Microsporum species of fungi fluoresce when observed with a wood’s lamp.

Cause of ringworms

Ringworms are caused by fungi belonging to the Microsporum species. The most common species that affect dogs are Microsporum canis and Microsporum gypseum.

In some cases another fungus known as Trichopyton mentagrophytes has been isolated from ringworms but this is very rare in dog skin diseases.

How fungi cause ringworms

The species of fungi will invade the skin. They are found in the epidermal (top layer) of the skin. The fungi replicate and produce spores while in the hair follicles, their waste will accumulate in the and reach the dermis.

The dermis will elicit a reaction to this waste causing production of immune reaction targeting the fungi; the fungi are then forced to migrate to another area of the skin to avoid destruction. The fungi will move in an outward manner resulting in the ring shape of the lesion.

Ringworms are very contagious and thus any dog suffering from ringworms should be isolated from the others to prevent spread.

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There are several ways of dealing with ringworms in dogs

- Disinfect the bedding and living quarters of the dogs

- Isolate affected animals, ringworms can be spread even to humans especially children thus minimize contact of affected animals with those not affected.

- Treating with an appropriate antifungal ointment. This is applied on the lesions. Most veterinarians will use Griseofulvin. This ointment is applied daily for a period of time usually a month. This antifungal is very effective especially against the Microsporum species.

- Even when lesions disappear be sure to continue applying the ointment till the prescribed period is over. This is to ensure that all the fungi are dealt with.

- Using shampoos that contain an antifungal preparation. The antifungals normally included in shampoos are clotrimazole, terbinafine and ketoconzole. The amount of these drugs will vary depending on the shampoo you are using. Some shampoos will also contain some additional drugs that are effective against fungi. Taking note of how often you should bathe your dog can help too.

Ringworms in dogs may be contracted from humans. For this reason, any person suffering from ringworms should avoid contact with the dogs.

Ringworms cause hair loss due to the destruction of hair follicles. While ringworms are not itchy, they may be invaded by bacteria resulting in infection.

Remember to wear protective gloves while applying ointment or washing a dog that has ringworms. Ringworms will at times resolve by themselves after a period of time. However, treatment is advised due to the contagious nature of the condition and also to avoid recurrence.

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