What Does Ringworm on Dogs Look Like?
Curious about what does ringworm on dogs looks like? Explore the appearance and characteristics of ringworm infection in canines.

Ringworm is a common fungal infection that affects dogs, among other animals and humans. Despite its name, it is not caused by a worm but by various species of fungi known as dermatophytes. Ringworm can cause discomfort and skin issues for our furry friends. It is important for dog owners to be able to identify the signs of ringworm to seek appropriate treatment promptly. In this article, we will discuss what does ringworm on dogs look like and provide valuable insights into its diagnosis and treatment.


Ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, and nails. It can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal or contaminated objects. Dogs are susceptible to ringworm, and it can be a significant concern for both their health and the well-being of their owners. Understanding the appearance and characteristics of ringworm is crucial in order to take appropriate measures and ensure the swift recovery of our beloved pets.

Understanding Ringworm

Ringworm is caused by dermatophytes, which are fungi that thrive in warm and moist environments. These fungi feed on keratin, a protein found in the outermost layers of the skin, hair, and nails. The infection can be contracted by direct contact with an infected animal or through exposure to contaminated objects, such as bedding, grooming tools, or shared living spaces.

Causes of Ringworm in Dogs

Ringworm in dogs can be caused by various species of dermatophytes, with the most common being Microsporum canis. Puppies, elderly dogs, and those with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to the infection. Poor nutrition, stress, and unsanitary living conditions can also increase the risk of ringworm.

Symptoms and Signs of Ringworm

The symptoms of ringworm in dogs may vary depending on the severity of the infection. Some common signs to watch out for include:

Hair Loss:

Ringworm often causes patchy hair loss, which may appear as circular areas with broken or brittle hairs. These patches can gradually expand over time.

Red, Scaly Skin:

Affected areas of the skin may appear red, inflamed, and scaly. They can be itchy and may cause discomfort for the dog.

Crusty Lesions:

Ringworm can result in the formation of crusty lesions on the skin. These lesions may ooze, leading to secondary bacterial infections.

Circular Rash:

The characteristic feature of ringworm is the development of circular rashes. The outer edge of the rash is typically red and raised, while the center appears clearer.

Dull Coat:

Infected dogs may exhibit a dull or lackluster coat due to hair loss and damage caused by the infection.

Visual Appearance of Ringworm on Dogs

When ringworm affects dogs, it typically appears as circular patches with hair loss. These patches may have a reddened outer edge and a clearer center, giving them a distinct ring-like appearance. The skin around the affected area may appear inflamed, scaly, and sometimes crusty. In some cases, the dog's nails may also become brittle or discolored.

Diagnosing Ringworm in Dogs

To diagnose ringworm in dogs, a veterinarian will perform a thorough examination of the dog's skin and hair. They may use a special ultraviolet lamp called a Wood's lamp to detect fluorescent material on the coat, which is indicative of ringworm. However, not all dermatophytes fluoresce, so a negative result does not rule out the presence of ringworm. The veterinarian may also take a sample of the affected hair or skin for further testing, such as a fungal culture or microscopic examination.

Treating Ringworm in Dogs

The treatment of ringworm in dogs typically involves a multi-faceted approach. It is important to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. The veterinarian may prescribe antifungal medications, such as oral tablets, topical creams, or medicated shampoos. Additionally, thorough cleaning of the dog's living environment and bedding is crucial to prevent re-infection. Regular vacuuming, washing of fabrics, and disinfection of surfaces can help eliminate fungal spores.

Prevention of Ringworm in Dogs

Preventing ringworm in dogs involves maintaining good hygiene practices and minimizing exposure to infected animals or contaminated objects. Some preventive measures include:

Maintain Proper Hygiene:

Regularly bathe and groom your dog using a mild, antifungal shampoo. This helps remove any fungal spores that may be present on your dog's skin or coat.

Clean Living Environment:

Keep your dog's living area clean and dry, as fungi thrive in moist conditions. Regularly disinfect their bedding, toys, and other items they come into contact with.

Avoid Contact with Infected Animals:

Prevent your dog from interacting with animals known to have ringworm. If your dog does come into contact with an infected animal, thoroughly wash and dry their coat as soon as possible.

Promote a Healthy Immune System:

Ensure your dog receives a balanced diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary care to maintain a strong immune system. A healthy immune system can better defend against fungal infections.

Balanced Diet:

Providing a balanced diet and ensuring proper nutrition boosts the dog's immune system.


Avoiding overcrowded living conditions that may increase the risk of infection.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

If you suspect that your dog may have ringworm or if you notice any symptoms mentioned earlier, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian promptly. A professional evaluation and diagnosis will ensure proper treatment and prevent the spread of infection to other pets or family members. The veterinarian may perform various diagnostic tests, including:

Wood's Lamp Examination:

This test involves examining the infected area under a special ultraviolet lamp, which causes certain fungal species to emit a fluorescent glow.

Fungal Culture:

A sample of hair or skin may be collected and sent to a laboratory for fungal culture. This allows for the identification of the specific fungal species causing the infection.

Treatment Options for Dog Ringworm

The treatment of dog ringworm typically involves a combination of antifungal medications, topical treatments, and environmental decontamination. Your veterinarian will develop a tailored treatment plan based on the severity and location of the infection. Some common treatment options include:

Antifungal Medications:

Oral antifungal medications, such as itraconazole or terbinafine, may be prescribed to eliminate the fungal infection from within.

Topical Antifungal Creams:

Medications in the form of creams, ointments, or sprays are often used to treat localized ringworm infections on the skin.

Environmental Decontamination:

It is crucial to thoroughly clean and disinfect your dog's living environment to prevent reinfection. This includes vacuuming, washing bedding and toys, and regularly sanitizing the areas your dog frequently occupies.

what does ringworm on dogs look like?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can humans get ringworm from dogs?

Yes, humans can contract ringworm from infected dogs. It is essential to take precautions and practice good hygiene to minimize the risk of transmission.

Is ringworm treatable in dogs?

Yes, ringworm is treatable in dogs. With prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment, most dogs can recover fully from the infection.

Can I use over-the-counter antifungal creams for my dog's ringworm?

It is recommended to consult a veterinarian before using any over-the-counter antifungal creams on your dog. Some medications may not be suitable for canine use or may require a specific dosage.

Can ringworm affect dogs of any age or breed?

Ringworm can affect dogs of any age or breed. However, puppies, senior dogs, and those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible.

How long does it take for a dog to recover from ringworm?

The recovery time for dogs with ringworm can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the effectiveness of the treatment. It typically takes several weeks to a few months for a complete recovery.


Recognizing the visual appearance of ringworm on dogs is essential for early detection and timely treatment. By familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms, you can take appropriate measures to protect your dog's health and prevent the spread of infection. Remember to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and guidance on the most suitable treatment plan.

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