Owning a dog is one of the most blissful feelings in the world. They are the perfect companion for a human no matter what age they are of. From children to teenagers, adults and the elderly, just about everyone loves dogs. They become parts of the family in so profoundly that their pain becomes ours. Probably that is why when your dog is in pain, you get the feeling that you want to move to heavens and earth to get them relief in any manner you can. Problems like ear infections, diarrhea, skin itching, vomiting, oral issues, itching, ear infections, parasites, parvo, and several others on the list of common dog diseases are very severe for our furry friends. And in any such situation, you should never delay a visit to the veterinarian. However, in a case of an emergency where you can’t just take your dog to the doctor, home remedies to treat several diseases, like ringworm in dogs also come very handy.
How to Know if Your Dog is Infected with Ringworm?
If you find a red and scaly lesion on the skin of your dog’s head, ear, paws or forelimbs, it is a symptom of ringworm and demands immediate medical attention. Sometimes, you might also find ringworm lesions on the dog’s belly or underbelly. If further deteriorated, these lesions then turn into bald patches which look red in the center. In worst cases, these patches start to appear in several different places.
What Is Ringworm?
Despite what the name suggests of this disease, it is not actually a worm infection. It is rather a fungal infection which is highly contagious in nature. There is a good chance that your dog picked it up from another animal after it came into contact with an infected one. How did you not notice it, you ask? Probably because dermatophytosis, or ringworm, as it is commonly known, takes up about 4 to 14 days to start showing symptoms. And since ringworm is not merely an animal disease, you should be careful in touching the affected area directly, as without proper precaution, you may also contract this. It is very common for children to pick it up from the pet. And although this disease starts on a superficial level, it can spread and cause scars in various tissues (1).
The diagnosis of Ringworm in your pet can be done by a veterinarian very easily by checking the affected parts in a special lighting, which makes the fungus glow and easily recognizable. When your pet is definitely diagnosed with the ringworm infection, you should immediately get in action and clean anything and everything that they may have come in contact with recently and that too with some chlorine diluted in water. This has to be done because it is very much of a possibility that you may contract ringworm from them, or worst, your children may. The problem with ringworm in humans is that it begins with the scalp and most just ignore it as a common itch (3).
How Do Dogs Get Infected with Ringworm?
There can be many questions floating in everyone’s mind about this infection. How do dogs get it? Or what dogs can get the infection? The most common reason for dogs to contract it is picking it up from either an infected human or animals. Puppies under the age of 1 year are the most vulnerable to ringworm. But if your dog does not eat properly or is under-nourished, has a weak immune system, is under some stress; then they also run a high risk of getting infected by the fungus. And since the ringworm fungus rests in the fur of pets, it may also happen that if your dog shares or accidentally shared bed, utensils or toys with a pet or human who has ringworm, it will be transferred to the dog too. And no matter what the dog shelter (you trust so much) claims, it basically is an ideal breeding ground for such diseases (4).
What Does the Ringworm Look Like on a Dog?
We know that in humans it looks like a ring, hence the name, ringworm. But in pets like your dog, it looks like an irregularly shaped bump which is red in the center and scaly on the borders (5). It may or may not itch, but your dog has no way to tell if it causes him pain. So you have to take matters into your own hands and take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. And in the meanwhile, you can try the following home treatment for some relief for your dog.
Home Remedies For Treating Ringworms In Dogs
1. Anti Fungal Shampoo
Since the root cause of the ringworm infection is fungi like the Microsporum, the most effective way to cure it is through a regular use of shampoos with antifungal characteristics. It is pretty obvious what these shampoos do. They prohibit the replication and spreading of the fungus causing the infection, and therefore, you should give your dog a thorough wash using an antifungal shampoo. But you should also learn to read the label so you can know which ones are healthy for your pet, and which are not. Studies show that shampoos with Itraconazole, Griseofulvin and Terbinafine will treat ringworms in dogs in about 45 to 70 days (6). Veterinarians most of the times suggest the use of shampoos with any one of the aforementioned ingredients forming a major part of it. Vets with a good experience in treating ringworm in dogs will tell you how and when to do it.
2. Lime Dips
Lime dips is another of the vet’s favorite prescriptions. If you are a bit clueless on how to treat ringworm in dogs, this is a very effective solution to the problem. They are very effective against ringworm and many other fungal infections. Giving a lime dip to your pet is very easy, so much so that you can do it at home. You only need to do it twice a week for best results. Here is how to prepare a lime dip and use it for your pet.
- In about a gallon of water, mix about 8 ounces of concentrated lime sulfur solution. If you wish to use this dip for a smaller animal, then you can use lesser than a gallon of water, but the proportion of the constituents remains the same. Like for a half gallon, use 4 ounces of the solution.
- Before using the dip, it is natural of you to think that you should probably soak your pet; but do not do so.
- Using a sponge or a spray bottle, apply the dip to your dog’s body. You must remember here that since the infection is inside the skin, the dip should reach the inner layers for it to work.
- After the dip, keep your dog in a warm, airy place, so it can air dry.
- Although you might not agree with the smell of the dip, do not panic if you find your dog licking itself.
Things to Take Care of While Applying Lime Dips
The lime sulfur has a rotten egg smell, and it may so happen that your nose might not accommodate with it. But you have to take this step essentially for the sake of your beloved dog, because it stops the culture from budding further. Here are a few tips you should consider while preparing and applying the lime dip.
- While mixing, put in the solution first and then add the warm water. This ensures correct dilution of the lime sulfur.
- To avoid touching the dip yourself, wear heavy duty dish-washing gloves. Also, take off any jewelry you are wearing and change into old clothes.
- You have to soak the animal to the inner layers of the skin with the dip. For difficult areas like the nose, face, inside the ears, etc., use a sponge or old rags and apply the dip directly with a gentle hand. Though, the most efficient way of doing this is to soak your pet directly into the bucket.
- Use an old tub or bucket for this and avoid using your sink or tubs. Lime soda has the potential to stain anything.
- Do not rinse your dog after the dip.
- Do not dry your pet with a towel. Let them air dry in a warm place.
- If you have multiple pets that have developed the ringworm infection and you wish to use the bucket method to save some time, do not put them in randomly. Start with the least infected or affected one, work your way up in increasing order of the number of lesions.
- To throw away the dip, rinse it into the drain as it is safe. But dilute it with a lot of water first to avoid staining (7).
3. New Zealand Tea Tree
Mānuka or as more commonly known as, the New Zealand tea tree, is used to make an essential oil from its leaves and branches. This oil has been used for a long time in parts of the world for pains and aromatherapy. It also has antibacterial and antiviral properties, but only when applied directly to the skin. But the Mānuka honey has the property of being amazingly effective against various fungi that dwell on the skin, including the ringworm. Application of Mānuka honey on the affected parts is highly recommended in cases of ringworm (8).
Garlic has been a general use article in almost every culture of this earth and is most widely used in the kitchen. But in many parts of the world, garlic has gained importance as a medicine. Ajoene, a chemical compound found in the cloves of garlic, is proven to work effectively on various fungi because of its antifungal properties. Hence, garlic is very often used as a home remedy for ringworm in humans and animals alike (9, 10). So how to use garlic as a cure for ringworm on dogs? To provide relief from the ringworm or to speed up the process, cut a clove of garlic in half. Now rub this on the ringworm thoroughly. Make sure that whoever is rubbing the clove on to the infection, be it you or someone else, wears a glove to avoid touching the affected area. Repeat twice a day for about a week for best results. Cut garlic remains useful for ringworm for about 12 hours. Also, after applying garlic, let it dry. Then, using a plaster, cover the ringworm up.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV has various medicative properties. It is commonly used for cleaning, preserving and as a salad dressing in the kitchen. Made from the apple must, apple cider vinegar has many medicinal uses too. It is widely used for curing infections and has proven by many to be of use in ringworm too, especially in the pets. With regular use, it will make the fungal infection go away in about 2 to 3 days (11). Just make a solution if Apple Cider Vinegar with water and rinse your dog after bathing it.
Papaya has many great qualities that we already know of. It is great for the digestive system and is also beneficial for the skin. And we already love eating it because of the sweet taste. But if we look at it from a different perspective, then we get to see a whole different side of not only the fruit but also of other parts of the tree. Papaya fruit has anti-fungal properties, and if you rub it onto the skin, it will clean the fungus causing various problems. The paste of the seeds and extract of leaves, both show anti-fungal properties and hence can be effectively used against ringworm when applied topically.
Turmeric has been a gift of nature to the civilization. Not only in the kitchen, but Turmeric has also been in use for various medicinal purposes for a very long time. It has been a part of ancient medicine and is still effectively used through the world. It is used in Indian and Chinese medicine for liver and digestive problems, skin problems and wounds, etc. But turmeric is also very helpful in treating parasitic diseases and fungal infections like ringworm (14). Make sure that you use fresh turmeric. Grind it in water to make a rather thick paste and apply it on the skin, leaving it to dry.
Also, take a tablespoon of turmeric powder and mix it with honey. Try to feed this to your dog, so that you ensure that the ringworm is being cured not only externally, but from the inside as well.
Basil is a herb which is considered to be native to India, where it has been grown for almost 5000 years. It has seen various uses, mostly culinary but has exhibited many medicinal applications during the course of history. Also, basil is widely used in the cosmetics industry, perfumes, soaps and dental preparations. But basil can be used for antifungal properties too. Linalool, which is the major constituent of the basil is very effective against various fungal growth. Studies have proven that linalool with antifungal potential, acts as an anti-Trichophyton agent and can be really effective against the ringworm infection (15, 16). Apply it in the paste form on the affected area, and let it work its magic gradually.
9. Neem Or Indian Lilac Oil
If you are worried about your pet licking the ointment you put on its skin and are wondering how to get rid of ringworm on dogs without inviting any other hazard, then neem or the Indian lilac is here for you. As the name suggests, this tree is native to the Indian subcontinent and is found very abundantly in tropical and semi-tropical regions. The neem tree has a lot of benefits. Fresh stems of the tree are chewed for a relief from a toothache and are prescribed as a toothbrush in the ancient Indian medicine, which is still strictly followed in some cultures.
Neem has antibacterial, antiviral, antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Almost every part of the tree has been referred to as extremely beneficial in ancient texts. And this has been substantiated by modern medical science too. And what is more exciting is that neem also shows immense toxicity to the fungi that causes the ringworm infection. It acts against both the type of ringworm fungi, those that affect skin and nails, as well as those affecting the hair (17, 18).
Just use neem oil and apply it using a cotton swab or a Q tip directly onto the lesions. Repeat the procedure for 2 to 3 times a day. If you are worried about irritation caused by the oil to your dog’s skin, you can mix it up with a carrier oil for dilution. Neem is known for its characteristic bitter taste and smell, which is enough to discourage your dog from licking it.
10. Bastard Teak
Another tree native to the Indian subcontinent, the bastard teak, is a deciduous tree with bright orange colored flowers. It is known by many names in different civilizations it is a part of. But the aqueous solution of extracts of the bastard teak has immense controlling capacities over many bacterial and fungal infections. It can be very effective against ringworm (19, 20). You can grind the seeds of the plant and sprinkle the powder over the affected area. Or you can grind the powder in some lemon juice and apply the paste over the ringworm for about 2 to 3 times a day.
Licorice are the roots of its plant which is mostly found in Europe and parts of Asia. It is mostly known for the sweet flavor that is obtained from these roots. Because of the pleasantly sweet flavor, it is widely used in making sweet confectionery in many parts of the world. In fact, in Italy, Spain and France, people prefer licorice in its natural form. They dig them up, wash and dry the sticks so they can chew licorice as a mouth freshener. Licorice is very famous throughout the world. But licorice extracts are also used for their antifungal properties. They show significant inhibition of several fungal strains, including the Microsporum (21).
How to Make Licorice Tea?
Add about 5 to 7 teaspoons of dried licorice in one cup of warm water. Let the water boil and then bring it to simmer for about the next 15 minutes. After the tea has cooled, with the help of a cotton ball apply this tea onto the lesions about 2 to 3 times in a day and see the effects.
Oregano is a herb of the mint family extensively used in the culinary field with a stronger flavor in the dried form. One of the components of the oregano is called Thymol. The oil of oregano contains thymol in big proportions and they are known to stop growths of fungal infections. Also, thymol has been used in alcohol solutions for the cure of ringworms in various studies (22, 23). Mix 2 drops of oregano oil with about one tablespoon of coconut oil. With the help of a cotton ball or swab, apply this oil blend over the infected region.
13. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera, also known as Indian Aloe is a species of Aloe which is a native of the continent of Africa. It is grown for many intents, but mostly for medicinal and decorative purposes. The best thing about growing Aloe is that it can be easily grown indoors. And it has been used for traditional skin treatments since as long as 16th century BC. It is also used in the preparation of various skin cosmetics. Many people even use the gel present on the inside of the leaves of the aloe plant directly and undiluted. It is effective on minor burns, wounds, as well as on skin conditions like eczema and ringworm. A study done on ringworm on animals recommended the use of aloe to reduce the effects and inhibit the growth of fungi, without any side effects, like skin irritation (24, 25).
14. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is known by different names in different parts of the world, including melaleuca oil and ti-tree oil. This is essential, which is extracted from the leaves of a tree known as Melaleuca alternifolia. This tree is native to Southeast Queensland, and the Northeastern coast of New South Wales, Australia. It is a toxic oil if ingested, so don’t even think of ingesting it. It is usually pale yellow to colorless with an odor like camphor.
Tea tree oil has been used in the folk medicine for centuries, and today it is used in various drugs and cosmetic washes to treat different skin conditions like dandruff, acne, ringworm, lice, athlete’s foot, herpes, etc (26).
All you need to do is apply the mixture of tea tree oil and a carrier oil in the ratio of 5:50 and use it on the affected area on your furry friend 1-2 times a day. The concentrations should not be more than 4-5% as this may cause side effects of burns or rashes. It is advised that you apply a little mixture on your dog and check for any allergic reactions and then continue applying (27).
15. Golden Rain Tree
The golden rain tree or the golden shower tree is a flowering plant, abundantly found in the subcontinent of India, and neighboring regions of Southeast Asia. It gets that name because, in the spring season, it blooms with an abundance of flowers that are bright yellow in color. The other name that it is more known by is Cassia Fistula. The flowers cover up the tree in such a way that sometimes, even the leaves are not visible. The root bark, roots, leaves and fruits of this plant are widely used for the cure of several diseases and conditions, including ringworm (28). Many tribes in India are known to make use of the extracts of parts of this tree for various fungal skin diseases, like Ringworms (29). You can use the juice or paste of the leaves of the Cassia tree to give your dog some relief from ringworm.
16. Sacred Lotus
Sacred Lotus or Indian lotus is a flowering aquatic plant. It remains in bloom throughout the year, and if conditions are in favor, the seeds can survive for years on end. The flowers, seeds, and the underwater roots (rhizomes) are all edible. In fact, these roots of the lotus are very useful for the cure of skin infections, like ringworm (30). The rhizomes are the roots of the plant growing in the mud at the bottom of ponds and other water bodies. They have hollow spaces on the inside for the purpose of retention of air in plants. The extract of these roots can be applied externally to the ringworm for relief.
[ Read: Home Remedies for Parvo ]
Decontaminating The Environment
You know how they say “Prevention is better than cure”? Well, that is true in almost any walk of life and is applicable to not only humans but also to our pets. Ringworm infections are caused due to fungal contamination of the fur or the hair of the dog and then sits inside the skin of the animal. You can see them evidently on the skin as red bald patches which are scaly on the boundaries. The worst thing about ringworm is that it is highly contagious. It can spread from animal to human and the other way round too. In the case of dogs, they can very easily infect small kids. So if you have a little kid in your house who absolutely adores the dog, it might pose a huge threat to their health. So the best thing to do right after your dog is diagnosed with the ringworm is to decontaminate everything that your dog may have touched in the past few weeks.
At this point, you need to categorize your possessions according to the way that you have to clean them. Here are a few tips for cleaning and preventing the infection from spreading.
- All hard and not porous surfaces should be cleaned using bleach. Dilute one part of it in 10 parts of water. Use this to clean the floors, walls, kitchen and table tops, plumbing, frames and sills of the windows, etc.
- Take out the vacuum cleaner and begin cleaning the fabrics, like your carpets, upholstery, rugs, sofas, and curtains. Vacuum these at least once a day and immediately discard the garbage collecting vacuum bag. If you use the vacuum cleaner with a cleaning canister, then clean them using a bleach mixture same as above.
- Beds of your dog or pets should be cleaned with the hottest water setting possible. Make sure that you wash them with bleach that is safe for different colors.
- Dogs have the habit of scratching themselves a lot, and so, some owners buy their dogs scratching posts so they can use these for itching places instead of using their paws and nails. And it is very natural for the ringworms to make your canine itchy. But these things can do more harm than good. They are basically the hub of all the ringworm spores and can be the initiator of an infection spree.
- Every dog has at least one toy that they can play with. And maybe sharing these toys is the reason that your pet caught the ringworm. Or maybe your dog already has the infection and leaves the toys lying on the floor. That is a dreadful situation, and to avoid this, soak the toys for about 15 minutes in the bleach and water mix as mentioned above. Do not discard toys simply because they cannot be soaked.
- The spores can also travel through air and so you should also try changing heater and air conditioning vents.
- Do not leave your dog alone with other dogs. There is a great chance that it may contract the infection from other dogs. Also, set up a regular checkup of your pet with the veterinarian, so you are updated with every change in state of their health.
- A dog who is stressed or has a compromised immune system runs a significant risk of contracting ringworm too. So make sure that your dog’s immune system is up, and they are not stressed because of anything.
- Do not ever give your pet in a dog shelter without ensuring that they have separate services and quarters for every pet.
- In the case of confirmed diagnosis, fosters should be restricted to a separate room or a crate to avoid the spores from spreading in the house.
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If you ever see any of the symptoms of the ringworm on your dog, take it to the vet at the earliest possible for the sake of their health and your own too. Treatment for ringworms in dogs usually follows two categories. In minor cases, the doctor will only tell you to take proper care and recommend topical medicines. But if they are in bad shape, it might require ingestion of drugs. In any case, proper care and treatment is a must to fully cure and relieve your dog of the discomfort that comes with the ringworm infection, as soon as possible.
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