Despite its name, ringworm is not a worm at all. Ringworm is a type of fungus found in many different environments. Ringworm is zoonotic in nature, meaning that it can pass between dogs, cats, humans and other animals. At-home and veterinary diagnosis is usually straightforward and treatment is both cost-effective and simple.
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Ringworm appears on dogs as a small, round, flaky spot. Hair disappears from the area, usually in a circular or elliptical shape. The fungal infection may not bother your pet at all, and commonly appears on noses, feet, elbows and tails of animals who have come in contact with fungal spores.
At Home Treatment
Ringworm, when left untreated, usually disappears on its own within four months in healthy animals. Ringworm fungal infections can be controlled at home by bathing the dog or the affected appendage once or twice a week with an anti-dandruff shampoo with the active ingredient selenium sulphide. The area should be scrubbed with an iodine soap, and an over-the-counter yeast infection cream containing the chemical miconazole should be applied. Be sure that your dog does not lick the cream, as this may cause him to get sick.
Most veterinarians can diagnose a ringworm infection just by examining the area. Some veterinarians use a special form of black light, called a Woods lamp, to see if the infected area appears to fluoresce. This is not always accurate, as several strains of the ringworm fungus do not glow under a Woods lamp. A veterinarian may extract hairs from around the infected site, and examine them under a microscope. This provides an accurate diagnosis 40 per cent to 70 per cent of the time. A veterinarian may also collect spores from the site of the lesion and run a culture test on them. This is the most accurate way to diagnose a ringworm infection, but it can take up to two weeks to show results. A veterinarian may start treatment before a culture is fully finished.
Veterinary treatment of ringworm consists of topical creams containing miconazole, as well as oral treatment with itraconazole, ketoconazole, or griseofulvin pills or tablets. A veterinarian may recommend clipping the fur around the affected area, but this is usually only done when the ringworm infection is moderately severe to severe. Veterinary treatment should always be sought if a ringworm infection is suspected in a dog who is pregnant or has an otherwise compromised immune system.
Cleaning and sanitising the pet's environment is an integral part of the treatment of ringworm. This will prevent the dog from being reinfected in its own environment. Because ringworm sheds spores into the environment, and the spores can live up to several months, a mixture of 1 pint of chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of water mixed together should be applied wherever possible. Bedding should be washed in hot water with bleach when possible. When using bleach is not an option, items should be left in direct sunlight for a period of time.
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