It has such a creepy crawly-sounding name, ringworm seems like a fitting subject for this spooky time of year! But it isn’t really a worm at all, nor is it caused by worms. It’s actually a fungal infection similar to Athlete’s Foot that affects the skin and hair. The name is characterized by the appearance of a round, red, and raised “ring.” Since ringworm is transmitted through direct contact with the fungus from either an infected animal, person, or contaminated surface, it’s important to be aware of the signs.

Symptoms in dogs:

  • Dandruff-like scaling in the depths of the coat
  • Red lesions or circular patches of hair loss on the head, chest, forelegs, and ridge of the back
  • Scaling, crusting, thickening, and reddening of the skin

Immediately consult your veterinarian if you notice your pup is suffering from any of these symptoms. As part of our commitment to care, animals adopted from the SF SPCA who test positive for ringworm can receive approved treatment at our hospitals free of charge.

How is it treated?

6–8 weeks of anti-fungal medications, weekly medicated baths, and time in isolation

At the SF SPCA, we save more than 300 animals with ringworm every year, thanks to our SPORE program (Shelters Preventing Outbreaks of Ringworm through Education). Since 2013, SF SPCA Shelter Medicine Outreach Programs Manager and SPORE program developer Laura Mullen, CAWA, has been teaching other shelters how to better detect, treat, and manage ringworm.

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