Understanding Ringworm in Dogs: Natural Remedies for Treatment

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The Can Dogs Eat It Team

Understanding Ringworm in Dogs: Natural Remedies for Treatment
Reading Time: 7 minutes

joana garridoReviewed By Joana Garrido DVM

Ringworm in dogs or canine dermatophytosis is a relatively common skin disorder. Studies estimate that its prevalence ranges between 4% and 20% worldwide.

One of the most worrisome aspects of this disease is its cross-species contagiousness. Thus, managing and treating ringworm in dogs is a must to prevent the risk of spreading.

What Is Ringworm in Dogs?

a dog's leg with ringworm infected skin

Because of its misleading name, many people mistake ringworm in dogs as a disease caused by worm infestation. However, contrary to this belief, it does not involve parasitic worms but a fungal infection.

The name ringworm was derived from the typical symptoms this dermatological problem causes, which are ring-shaped swollen lesions. But it should be noted that not all ringworm-infected areas in dogs are ring-shaped.

What Causes Ringworms in Dogs?

Ringworm in dogs is medically called dermatophytosis due to the group of fungi causing it called dermatophytes.

There are around 40 species of identified dermatophytes. The most common strains causing ringworm in dogs are:

  • Microsporum canis
  • Microsporum gypseum
  • Trichophyton mentagrophytes

Dermatophytes feed on keratin to grow and multiply. Hence, they usually thrive in the outermost layer of dogs’ skin and hair follicles. Some cases of ringworm in dogs infect the nails.

Is Ringworm Contagious in Dogs?

Although canine ringworm isn’t life-threatening, it is a transmittable illness. Not only can it be passed on from dog to dog but to other pets and humans as well, especially young children.

For this reason, containment and prevention of the disease is essential to avoid widespread transmission.

How Do Dogs Contract Ringworms?

Dogs can contract ringworms in various ways, such as:

  • Coming into direct contact with an infected animal or person
  • Digging through dirt inhabited by ringworm fungi
  • Exposure to contaminated objects or surfaces

Spores of ringworm fungi are highly resilient and can manage to survive in the environment for up to 18 months.

Which Dog Breeds Are More Susceptible to Ringworm Infection?

a dog with ringworm skin issues

Any type of dog breed is at risk of developing ringworms, but it commonly afflicts certain terrier breeds like:

  • Boston Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Russell Terrier

Aside from breed, other factors that may contribute to its development are age, health status, and housing environment.

Young and old dogs are prone to ringworm infection because of their weak immune system. Pooches with immune disorders and taking immunosuppressive medication are also more likely to contract it. Canines predisposed to skin conditions can get ringworms as a secondary skin infection.

When multiple dogs share the same living space, it gives the ringworm fungi an easy opportunity to spread. Thus, canines housed with other canines in kennels or shelters are in danger of contracting this disease.

What Are the Ringworm Symptoms in Dogs?

Detecting the early signs of ringworm infections in dogs is a crucial first step in containing it. The symptoms you should look out for are:

  • Circular areas of hair loss
  • Inflamed and bumpy lesions
  • Brittle hair
  • Broken nails
  • Scaby skin
  • Excessive dandruff

The most commonly affected areas by ringworms are the ear tips, face, feet, and tail. It can take up to 10 to 12 days before symptoms of ringworm in dogs manifest.

However, beware that some infected dogs do not show clinical signs of ringworm on their body. However, they are still capable of transmitting the disease.

How Is Ringworm in Dogs Diagnosed and Treated?

Ringworm symptoms in dogs mimic the clinical signs of other skin disorders and health issues. If your dog’s skin shows signs of ringworm infection, get him checked by the veterinarian.

Diagnosing ringworm in dogs involves performing specialized tests that will identify the presence of fungal strains. Some of the most common procedures include examining fungal cultures, taking a PCR test, or using Wood’s lamp.

To treat ringworm in dogs, the veterinarian will likely prescribe oral medications and topical lotions or creams. Quarantining affected pets and thoroughly cleaning your home may also be suggested.

Carefully follow the instructions on how long they should be used during the course of your dog’s treatment. Prematurely stopping the usage of medications can lead ringworm in dogs to persist or recur.

2 Natural Home Remedies for Ringworm in Dogs

Concurrent use of home remedies along with traditional treatments helps stave off the growth of ringworm fungi and prevent them from spreading.

Here are 3 natural topical treatments you can administer on dogs with ringworm infections:

1. Valerian as a Natural Home Remedy for Ringworm in Dogs

dried Valerian

A study on humans was performed to investigate the antifungal activity of valerian against 2 microbial pathogens, including Microsporum canis. Researchers observed that the herbal extract of this plant was effective against the fungi.


  • 3 cups distilled water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dried valerian root


  1. In a medium-sized pot, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add in the dried valerian root, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Leave the decoction to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Strain out the herb.
  5. Allow this home remedy for ringworm in dogs to cool down before use.
  6. Take a cotton ball or clean cloth and dip it into the valerian root decoction. Squeeze out any excess liquid.
  7. Gently rub it on the infected area of your dog’s skin.
  8. Repeat the application at least twice a day.

Nutritional information

  • Valerian can be taken internally to help reduce anxiety and agitation in dogs.
  • The oral use of this herb is also said to improve the sleep quality of canines with sleeping disorders like insomnia.


  • Always wear gloves when handling dogs with ringworms to prevent fungi from sticking to your skin. This rule should be applied when using topical home remedies at all times.

2. Guava as a Natural Home Remedy for Ringworm in Dogs

guava fruit

In an experiment, guava extract was derived from the leaves and bark of the plant. Then it was used on two types of fungi namely Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.

According to the results, guava extract was able to inhibit the growth of both fungal strains.


  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 6 whole fresh guava leaves


  1. Rinse the guava leaves thoroughly with water.
  2. In a blender, pour half of the water and add the guava leaves.
  3. Blend to form a paste.
  4. If the mixture is too dry, add water in small increments and then blend. Repeat this step until it has a smooth but thick consistency.
  5. Apply this home remedy on spots on your dog’s skin with ringworm infection.
  6. Leave it on for 20 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water.
  7. Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Nutritional information

  • Guava is abundant in immune-boosting nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K.
  • It also provides a healthy dose of potassium and magnesium for dogs, which supports strong bones.

How to Prevent Ringworm in Dogs

The focus of taking preventative measures is to reduce your dog’s potential exposure to ringworm-causing fungi. Here are some quick tips that can help you:

  • Wash your dog’s items, including his toys, grooming tools, and bedding, once a week. Do the same for your clothing.
  • Wipe your floors, walls, and furniture with a dog-friendly disinfectant at least weekly.
  • Vacuum carpets, rugs, and other difficult-to-wash textiles daily.
  • Give your dog a rubdown using antibacterial pet wipes after coming home from outside jaunts.
  • Properly dispose of vacuum bags or pet wipes after use.

These precautions also needed to be carried out when dogs have ringworm infections and even after the disease is resolved. It decreases the risk of re-infection.

FAQs About Ringworm in Dogs

1. What Does Ringworm Look Like in Dogs?

Ringworm in dogs looks like roughly circular swollen, and inflamed lesions. The fur on infected areas is dry and brittle, which eventually causes hair loss.

Minor ringworm infections in dogs are localized, while severe forms can result in widespread and patchy hair loss.

2. How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Ringworm?

Some dogs can be asymptomatic carriers of ringworm fungi. To determine if your dog has ringworm, take him to the veterinarian for examination.

Lab procedures like Wood’s lamp, fungal culture, or PCR test will be performed to help detect and identify their presence.

3. How to Treat Ringworm in Dogs at Home

You can use natural home remedies like valerian and guava to treat ringworm at home. They have shown the ability to suppress the growth of ringworm-causing fungi.

However, they are best used in conjunction with regular ringworm treatments for dogs for faster and better results.

4. Can I Touch My Dog If He Has Ringworm?

You can touch your dog if he has ringworm, but it would be safer to use gloves while doing so. It keeps the infectious fungi from attaching to your skin.

We recommend washing your hands afterward for caution. It is also a good idea to change your clothes and wash them to get rid of any fungi that manage to stick to them.

Always isolate an infected dog to prevent other pets and family members, especially children, from coming into contact with ringworm-causing fungi.

5. Can Ringworm Go Away on Its Own in Dogs?

Ringworms in dogs can go away on their own in very mild cases. Leaving it untreated gives more time for fungi to proliferate, worsening the disease and increasing the chances of transmission.

Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment is the best way to go to prevent ringworm from spreading to other pets and humans.


Ringworm in dogs is not a fatal skin disorder but a contagious disease. Other dogs, pets, and humans can contract and spread this illness.

Timely treatment is of the essence to prevent ringworm in dogs from becoming widespread. Conventional treatments can be paired with natural home remedies like valerian and guava to stop canine ringworm infection.

If your canine companion is prone to skin problems, our Supplements section provides home remedies for common dermatological issues in canines.