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Dog Parasites

Welsh-Terrier

Dog Parasites

Ringworm is the popular name for dermatophytosis, a frequently-identified fungal skin infection seen in dogs. Its name originates from the red, ring-shaped irritation that accompanies infection in human beings. Fungal dermatophyte species identified in canine ringworm infections include Microsporum canis (most commonly identified), Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. These robust and hardy fungi can live for a very long time in the environment (from months to years) in the form of infective spores (seed-like structures), and take their nutritional supply from the keratin protein in the hair, nails, and skin layers. Different strains can vary in virulence, or disease-causing ability.

How is Ringworm Spread?

Ringworm is transmitted by contact with skin lesions, hair, and scale. The fungus can also be isolated from carriers (infected but asymptomatic dogs) as well as from the soil and surrounding environment. Carriers do not show signs of infection, but can infect surrounding animals. Hairs (which are covered with infectious spores) are continuously shed from the infected dog. The veterinarian should examine the dog’s environment and living style in cases of infection, including close contact with any humans or pets with dermatitis in the household.  Puppies and sick and immunocompromised dogs (as well as those from shelters) are at the greatest risk for infection.

What does Ringworm Look Like?

Ringworm lesions can appear quite variable in dogs, who do not demonstrate the classic human ring-shaped lesion. Dogs typically display bald spots with associated scaly, crusty, irritated and sometimes itchy lesions that mimic other clinical veterinary conditions such as mites, allergy, or bacterial infection. Your veterinarian has the diagnostic tools to differentiate these variable conditions from one another.

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Dog Parasites

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