Ask the Vet
Q: Both of my goldendoodles have a few round spots on their bellies. My neighbor said it might be ringworm. Neither of them seem to be itching. Should I take them to the vet? W.R., Farragut
A: Yes, if you see spots on both of them, it would be a good idea to have your pets examined. Ringworm is contagious to people, so the sooner the better.
Ringworm is a fungal parasite, or dermatophyte. It causes skin lesions and hair loss in many species, including dogs, cats, horses and people. Ringworm is transmitted between individuals through close physical contact. Cats can be asymptomatic carriers, which means they can carry ringworm and have no hair loss whatsoever. So if you have a cat at home, please take him/her to the appointment also. Additionally, some types of ringworm fungi can live in the soil, and dogs can also be infected by digging and rooting around.
Generally, ringworm appears as a round, hairless lesion with mild crusting at the edges. The hair near the edges is often brittle and tends to break easily.
The lesions are generally not red or itchy, but it is important to know that not all ringworm lesions have this typical appearance.
If your veterinarian suspects that the lesions could potentially be ringworm, he/she will talk to you about testing. Hairs from the lesion are plucked and placed into a special gel called Dermatophyte Test Media in an attempt to grow the fungus. The test is checked daily for two weeks. If fungal colonies grow, they can then be identified under the microscope.
Treatment involves medicated shampoos and/or oral medications. Treatment protocols are based on severity of disease, ease of bathing, ease of giving oral medications and any other concurrent medical conditions that might conflict with treatment. Long-haired dogs and cats often have their fur groomed short to facilitate bathing. Additionally, as much hair as possible should be removed from the environment by frequent washing of pet bedding, vacuuming and changing of air filters.
If you have questions about your pets, you may e-mail Dr. Myers at email@example.com