Ringworm and Your Dog

Your Shetland sheepdog Lexi has been looking a little strange lately. Lexi normally has a lush, beautiful coat that shows off her striking colors. When you brushed her recently, though, you noticed a few circular bald spots on Lexi’s head and paws. Each crusty spot had a slight reddish tint in the center. You’re getting a bit concerned, so you’ve made an appointment for Lexi to see her Beaverton veterinarian tomorrow.


Visual Signs of Infection

Lexi might have a nasty case of ringworm. This contagious infection is actually caused by a fungus, and can be easily spread to dogs, cats, and humans. Ringworm begins with lesions that appear on Lexi’s ears, paws, head, and forelimbs. The lesions cause crusty circular bald patches that often have reddish centers. If Lexi has a mild case, you might only see a slight disruption in her coat; severe cases can result in patches over the majority of the dog’s body. It’s even possible for a dog to carry ringworm and be entirely symptom free.


Infection Transmission

Dogs who aren’t properly nourished, or with substandard immune systems, are at higher risk for ringworm infection. Puppies up to a year old are most susceptible to this scary-looking ailment. Ringworm is frequently transmitted through contact with infected animals; but can also be passed through contact with food dishes, bedding, and even toys. This means ringworm can run rampant in animal shelters, kennels, and other settings where many dogs live together.


Diagnosis and Treatment

Lexi’s vet can use several diagnostic tools to pinpoint her skin ailment’s source. He might use an ultraviolet light to look closely at Lexi’s hair, or a microscope to examine an active lesion. If he confirms ringworm, a medicated shampoo or ointment might eradicate the fungus; or Lexi might receive oral medications instead. If her case is severe, she might receive both treatments while the vet clips her fur around affected areas. Make sure you complete Lexi’s entire treatment regimen even if her lesions have disappeared; she might be capable of infecting another dog, cat, or person.


While Lexi’s Beaverton vet treats her ringworm infection, he might also recommend disinfecting or throwing away Lexi’s bedding, bowls, brushes, and toys. He might also suggest that you bathe your other pets with medicated shampoo. Finally, vacuum your home frequently, and wash your hands after touching or bathing Lexi, to avoid contracting the annoying ringworm bug yourself.

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