Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis or tinea, is not actually caused by a worm. Most pet owners believe that it is a parasitic infection similar to the worms found in a dog's stool; however, this condition is actually brought on by a fungal infection. The best dog ringworm treatment options may be effective, but a serious ringworm infection in the dog may require veterinary care.
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What's Ringworm in Dogs?
Dog ringworm condition causes a scaly, red, itchy patch of skin (as seen in the picture below) that typically takes the shape of a single ring or multiple rings. This is how this infection came to be referred to as ringworm.
This is what a ringworm on a dog looks like:
The ringworm fungus lives and grows in the upper layer of the dog's skin and in the dog's hair follicles. Occasionally, it can also occur in the dog's nails.
Ringworm in dogs is not a life-threatening disease, but it is highly contagious. It is a superficial infection that does not spread over the entire body. It usually stays contained to several areas of the dog's body. If you have an older dog, young puppy or an immune compromised dog, the infection could spread extensively.
Ringworm is a zoonotic disease, meaning the infection can easily spread from dogs to humans or other animals in your home through contact with the infected dog. It is important to keep good hygiene in your home with frequent vacuuming and washing of your dog's bedding to avoid the spread.
Because it's a self-limiting disease, ringworm in a dog will typically resolve by itself; however, in most cases, for the infection to clear up, it can take several months.
To speed up the process, several dog ringworm treatments are recommended, starting with a clipping of a dog's hair coat short, then following with a medicated shampoo bath and finishing with a topical application of anti-fungal treatments.
For pet owners who'd like to avoid harsh chemical treatments, some natural remedies for ringworm in dogs have been proven to be effective. Below are four of the best dog ringworm treatments and home remedies you can try to speed up the healing process.
4 Best Dog Ringworm Treatment Home Remedies
0. Before Using Any Home Remedies…
Before you start applying any of the below dog ringworm home remedies, there are a few things you must do first to prepare.
- Clip the hair. If your dog's coat is long or even medium length, you'll need to trim the hair in the affected area first so as to have easy access to the dog's skin.
- Clean it. After hair trimming, clean that infected ringworm area using a clean gauze pad and luke-warm water, then let it dry.
Note: If necessary, you can even shave the area so it's nearly bald. Keeping hair away from the ringworm infected wound will help it to stay dry, provide better absorption of the treatment and heal faster. Once the wound is clean, you can try one of the best dog ringworm treatments below.
1. Anti-Fungal Dog Shampoo
You can buy anti-fungal shampoo for dogs at most pet stores or through online retailers. These medicated shampoos are formulated with ingredients that kill fungal infections such as ringworm.
Follow the instructions on the bottle for bathing your dog with such a shampoo, because it's slightly different to your regular dog shampoo bathing.
Anti-fungal dog shampoos are made with chemicals and some strong ingredients that may be irritating to dogs with sensitive skin. Using one of these shampoos is the fastest way to get rid of a bought of ringworm, but they may not be suitable for every dog.
Here are some of the best dog ringworm shampoos you can buy online:
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2. Apple Cider Vinegar
If you're against using chemical-based anti-fungal dog shampoos, then among natural home remedies, I recommend using organic apple cider vinegar (like Bragg).
Make a 50/50 blend of ACV and water in an empty spray bottle. Apply the spray to the dog's ringworm affected area 2-3 times per day until the ringworm is completely gone.
Apple cider vinegar has been shown to have antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties.Do NOT use it directly on your dog's skin, because the high acidity of apple cider vinegar could actually be harmful to the dog.
This spray should also not be used if your dog has open wounds on their skin. It will sting and cause your pet unnecessary pain. Pay close attention to the infected area after you apply this home remedy. If you notice the ringworm patches growing larger, or if the itchiness seems to get worse, stop using the spray and contact your veterinarian.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has many positive effects on a dog's skin and their coat health, including healing ringworm infections. It can also help with many skin conditions in dogs, such as eczema, contact dermatitis, itchy skin and generally improve skin health in dogs.
Capric acid is found in coconut oil. Researchers have found that capric acid is great not only for fighting a variety of bacteria strains, but also for preventing fungi growths.
Coconut oil can be given to dogs orally or applied topically. Adding organic coconut oil to your dog’s diet can improve the animal's health in general. But, when using it as a home remedy for ringworm in dogs, you need to rub it directly on the effected area.
Using coconut oil topically is rather simple. Start with small amounts, because your dog’s fur can get greasy if you apply too much. Simply rub a bit of coconut oil between your fingers and apply it to the effected areas. Apply it 3 times per day until your dog's ringworm infection is completely gone.
Some of the best organic coconut oil treatments for dogs are these:
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4. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has scientifically proven powerful anti-fungal properties. A 2004 meta-review of seven clinical trials, scientists also found that tea tree oil is an effective treatment for ringworm. More specifically, a 70% success rate was found in a 2002 study, while an older 1992 study showed how using tea tree oil versus a placebo significantly improved several fungal conditions.
It's important to always dilute essential oils such as tea tree oil before applying them to your dog's skin. Straight oils could cause skin irritation in dogs. Carrier oils can be used to dilute essential oils and help them to better (and safely) absorb into the dog's skin.
Some of the most common carrier oils you can use are:
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Grapeseed oil
One of the best dog ringworm treatment options is a tea tree oil topical solution, and there are several good brands such as Maple Holistics. You can make the remedy simply by mixing 1 ounce of carrier oil with 10 drops of tea tree oil.
Then, apply this solution to the dog's ringworm effected area using a clean cotton ball anywhere from 2 to 4 times per day until the ringworm is completely gone.