Resolving Puppy Ringworm

Montana is not known as a humid state, in fact for eight of the twelve months it is dry and cold, and with our elevation, add a bit more dry and cold to that. The air is generally so dry it sucks out any moisture I may be hoarding in my own skin, and ages me just a bit. It’s always fun to go visit a super humid state because my skin plumps up, feels smooth and soft, and wrinkles disappear! But this year, we had lots of spring rain, cool to warm temperatures, and the perfect conditions to grow fungus, all types of it.

Our new puppy Rhumb Line came home a couple of weeks ago. She had a little puncture by her nose that was oozing just a bit but didn’t seem to bother her too much. We had a well check appointment scheduled in two days after bringing her home, so I would have the veterinary check it out. In just those two short days that puncture turned into a half dollar sized red, oozing, leathery, hairless, lesion filled, hot mess. Rhumb face

When we arrived at the veterinary, just at first sight, he said, “ah, a little puppy ringworm”. He brought out his Woods Lamp and this little red patch fluoresced green, an indication of fungal infection. So he went on to explain what this meant, because I think the look of panic registered on my face just a bit.

Dermatophytosis, more commonly known as as ringworm, is a fungal infection of the skin. Ringworm is a misnomer though, the infection is not caused by a worm at all, but by a fungus. Tinea is also used medically to describe fungal skin infections, and for me, much more palatable than ringworm, yuck.

Three different types of fungi can cause this infection: trichophyton, microsporum, and epidermophyton. It’s possible that these fungi may live for an extended period of time as spores in soil. Cats, sheep, scat, and wet or moist areas are the perfect hosts for this type of fungus.

Humans and animals can contract ringworm after contact with this soil, and humans can give animals ringworm and animals can give humans ringworm, it is not species specific.

But because of her tiny puncture, she also had a slight bacterial infection as well. So our Veterinary sent us home with oral and topical medication, as well as an antimicrobial shampoo. As soon as we got home, I went on line and read as much as possible, because that’s what I do. My jaw dropped when page after page came up on what you need to do to your home if you truly want to eliminate and not spread ringworm to your family members and other pets. So I called my Veterinary back and they confirmed it was all necessary. But he also mentioned that adult animals and adult humans rarely get ringworm if they are healthy, have a strong immune system, and are clean.

So for anyone out there that may have this with their puppy, this is the protocol we are following, and in just 1.5 weeks her little patch is no longer fluorescing green, hair is growing back, and the redness is going away. And our other dogs and children are fungus free, so it works.

  1. Medications – There are plenty of Home Remedies on line for ringworm, anything from Tea Tree Oil to Diesel Fuel and everything in between. Because this was around her nose, we didn’t want to insult her olfactory system with a strong scent, and anything you use is a chemical, even an essential oil. And many of the home remedies are too powerful for a puppy and fall on the side of toxic. After a lengthy discussion with our Veterinary, we stuck to what she was prescribed, three times a day for topical ointments, once a day oral medication. Our puppies medication initially had an anti bacterial as well as anti fungal because of the small puncture. Her new medicated pads have the ingredients Chlorhexidine, Ketoconazole, Phytosphingosine – SLC
  2. Shampoo – All of our dogs were bathed every other day with Malaseb Shampoo. It is rubbed in and has to remain on your dog for 10 minutes and then rinsed off. We are now down to once a week. This was for preventative measures, just in case.
  3. After Shampoo Rinse – we use 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar, and 4 cups warm water as an after shampoo rinse, and to sooth our dogs skin. Pour over, let sit for about 20 seconds or so, rinse off, towel dry.
  4. Cleaning the Home Initially – All bedding, clothing, crate mats, and dog beds had to be washed in bleach. All floors had to be washed with a bleach solution, and all carpets steam cleaned with a bleach or tea tree oil solution. No joke. Fifteen loads of laundry on that very day, and I was up until midnight washing floors and carpets.
  5. Daily Home Maintenance – All bedding is washed every day in a tea tree or bleach solution. Wherever she lays down and sleeps is washed with tea tree oil solution every night. We steam clean our carpets with a tea tree or light bleach solution every other day. And we wash our clothing everyday in a bleach or tea tree oil solution. My house has never been this clean, ever. And I have never done this much laundry, ever.
  6. Toys – All toys are put into a light bleach solution each night and cleaned.
  7. Diet – We believe in a healthy diet for healthy everything, so our dogs eat a rotation diet, 70% raw, 30% kibble and home cooked, and raw meaty bones a couple of times per week. We also give them Daily Defense from Glacier Peak Holistic, and Colostrum by Surthrival. Our adult dogs are healthy all the way around, and our new puppy is thriving.
  8. Sunshine – Sunshine, during early morning or late afternoon is super important for the healing of ringworm. Fungus does not like sun light. We have been careful to not let her get sun burned though as this is on her ‘white skin’ area.
  9. Play – emotionally happy animals thrive, and this promotes healing! So lots and lots of play outside.

As for her diagnosis, our Veterinary is pleased with the progress and is thrilled that she likes to be handled, and is happy, and accepting the treatments with ease. He doesn’t feel she is contagious at this point, but because she still has some lesions, and because he knows puppy play is like a direct mouth to mouth combat zone, we have another week to wait. He doesn’t want to see the remaining lesion get punctured and reinfected. I agree.

I am grateful she has Story to play with, our 10 year old dog, who does a lot of running around with her, and gentle mouth play. We have been given the okay to do walk abouts here and there in town, and meet other puppies and dogs for walks, just not play.

I hope this helps, maybe take some of the creepiness out of it, and know that there is someone else who has experienced this and understands the hard work you are going through. Nancy

20 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa Marie Cook says:

    That gave me the heebeegeebeeies. A reminder of my first weeks in Mammoth back in 1982 (after playing extensively with some kittens before I left home). Rocked my world with this uncontrolled skin thing taking over until I found $5 to go to the local clinic for treatment and that long list you gave. Glad Rhumby is doing well so fast! I love her eyes………..

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      I think I remember that actually …

  2. mtwaggin says:

    I kind of think your shampoo rinse would be good any time wouldn’t it??

  3. dorannrule says:

    Ah Rhumb Line seems such a happy puppy and now free of the irritating ringworm. I love your diet, cleaning, healthful living routine that would work for us humans too….. except maybe for the kibble. 🙂

  4. John says:

    We just learned from our breeder that the puppies have ringworm days before pickup. They have been treating them with oral meds and shampoo. So now the decision presented to us by the breeder: postpone pickup, take the puppy with a 30 day money back guarrantee or a complete refund. I am hesitant to bring an infected puppy into our home as we have a cat, dog and ferret. We have read much information online. What is your opinion?

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Well, most of the time, if immune systems are good and your other animals are adults and healthy, they will not get ringworm, it is a puppy/child immature immune system thing to fungus …

      You can keep your cat in an upstairs room for the first couple of weeks you have your puppy, and as long as you keep the puppy to one area of the house, and keep the floor clean (we used a light tea tree oil solution, at least you get good bonding time with your puppy… While it seems forever to resolve it isn’t, as long as you keep your environment clean …

      1. Maggie says:

        Just picked up our 8 week old puppy and went straight to the vet. He has ringworm, confirmed by tests. Would you recommend just having the breeder take the puppy back and eradicate before picking up again or request a refund and start over with another breeder or? The puppy is very healthy otherwise.

      2. Nancy Tanner says:

        ring worm is just fungus, if it is in her environment it is there, and good for her to know, but it does not mean she is irresponsible or that the puppy is set to have other health issues. If this is the puppy that pulls at your heart strings than it is the right puppy for you. I would however not vaccinate until the ring worm is cleared, you want to only vaccinate a puppy is perfect health, not while their immune system is already working so hard.

  5. Emma says:

    Hello, this has been so helpful. We picked up our puppy and within a few days noticed the signs of ringworm. We have been prescribed a shampoo and I will be following you’re steps.
    Just one question without sounding stupid.. how did you wash the dogs bedding? In the actual machine? If so did you put bleach in the machine? Or did you hand wash? Thanks emma

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Bleach or tea tree oil, both diluted. The beds we have have zip off covers, and anything that didn’t we sprayed with tea tree and let air dry

  6. anita says:

    what if the puppy has ringworm more less all over face and inside if ear lops how would you treat the face without getting in the eyes and ears

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      I think if the fungus was that spread out on the face I would treat what I could with anti-fungals and also get lots of sunshine, as fungus does not like sunshine. But you might check with your health care to see why so much.

  7. Tiffany says:

    We are on day 18 of 21 treating with oral meds. How do you know if the fungus has become inactive? Mika’s “lesions” are now just bald and appear to be healed.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      I would talk to your vet – that sounds like a long time on orals unless topically you couldn’t treat it because of eyes or something.

  8. Melanie Von Burg says:

    Hi Nancy, we are 1.5 weeks into topical and shampoo. Started oral steroids today. We have been really snuggling and playing with puppy and washing our hands well. How did your story turn out? Did any of you or your do get it? Did you keep the puppy confined?

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      so adults with functioning immune systems cannot get it, canine or adult, it is really just making sure that the spores that fall off in the first couple of weeks are cleaned up by super good floor cleaning. I never worried about when we went outside as the yard was in a sunny area, and we have low humidity here. Ring worm hates sunshine and dry heat, like all fungi. It was really gone in about 1-2 weeks, but the healing and making sure it didn’t return was about 30 days.

      1. Penny Best says:

        Did your vet give you any topical cream to appy? What is the brand or name? We found a stray 2 month old puppy, and I’m holistically treating for Demodectic Mange, and after bathing him in a Borax mixed peroxide dip solution he is cleaner, and it seems he does look like he might have Ringworm. He is in our closed sunroom being isolated from our home right now. I need to find the right topical cream as well.

      2. Nancy Tanner says:

        here is an article – if it is on the face, please be careful and the scent of vinegar or garlic can be over whelming – ACV that is diluted plus sunshine usually resolve the fungal infection. Fungus does not like sun and dry environments –

  9. Lindsey D says:

    Thank you so much for this information so neatly laid out. We are getting a puppy with ringworm and have two dogs currently. We were very overwhelmed with the information we were finding, even reconsidering rescuing pup. Very helpful article. Thanks again!

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