What is canine ringworm and what is the treatment for it?
Ringworm is a fungus and not actually a worm, and it affects both dogs and cats - but people and any other mammal can get it too. It grows on the dog in its dead skin, its fur, or its claws.
What are the symptoms in dogs?
You will usually see little patches of hair that look like they have been damaged in a circular shape. The skin around it will be red, and it usually happens around the face, tail, or paws of the dog. It causes itching, and your dog may be repeatedly scratching at it, and the skin can be very bumpy, too. Sometimes it is hard to diagnose ringworm as a pet owner, though, because it can be easily confused with other skin conditions.
How does a dog get ringworm?
It's a fungus, so it spreads with little spores that can get onto your dog through contact with another animal that has it. They can also spread indirectly through toys or other things that both dogs touch. Many dogs get infected but don't show any symptoms of it, but they can still spread it to another dog.
What is the treatment?
Most dogs will heal within a few weeks on their own, but you should not rely on that and you should always take the dog to the vet. Why? Because not every dog is going to clear up - there are some that will take months, and it is a very annoying and traumatizing condition for the dog. Also, you may have misdiagnosed it. There could be a more serious skin condition or allergy, and sometimes those happen at the same time as the ringworm. There are drugs to treat it, and there are also topical products that you apply directly to the dog's skin. It can take six weeks or so for it to go away even with treatment, though.
Can I get it from my dog?
Yes. You should be careful handling the dog, and many people use gloves until it clear up. However, this is not a life or death thing with people. It's not very serious, along the lines of athlete's foot - gross, but you'll get rid of it in a couple of weeks. You should go see the doctor, though, and get medicine for it. Watch yourself for little circular red spots or scaling of the skin.
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