Unlike humans, ringworm infections in dogs can show up different symptoms, such as crusty coats and hair loss. In humans, the infected area often appears in circular red lesions.
It is visibly identifiable as ringworm, but in dogs, the infected area may look like scaly patches and is often grey. But once you’re certain, is it really necessary to quarantine a dog with ringworm and how long for?
When a dog is infected with ringworm, they are very contagious to other dogs and humans living in the same vicinity. As a result, it is important to quarantine the dogs when they have an active infection. This usually lasts around 6 weeks, but can be quicker or longer depending on the severity of the infection and when your vet diagnosis is that the infection is gone.
Some breeds of dogs are more predisposed to get infected by ringworm than others.
Age and environment also greatly influence dogs’ susceptibility to get infected.
This article will dive deep into ringworm infection in dogs and what you should do for your dog in such cases.
Quarantining a Dog With Ringworm: Is it Necessary?
Yes, although there is an incubation period 10-14 days before symptoms show up (which means they’ve likely already transmitted the ringworm fungus), if your vet diagnoses your dog as having a ringworm infection, you should quarantine your dog as infected pets remain contagious.
Once you have secured a safe area, crate or room for your dog with all the necessities, make sure you start cleaning the house to eliminate any potential fungal hotspots.
The contagious period of a dog with a fungal infection is about 3 weeks, so be prepared to have the dog in quarantine for at least that period.
Ensure you clean yourself thoroughly after touching or cleaning the dog, and preferably, wear gloves.
How Long Do You Quarantine a Dog with Ringworm?
To answer this question, you must consider how severe the infection is and how quickly you can get effective treatment.
If it’s a very bad or extensive infection, it can take as much as 1 to 2 months for the infection to clear out, while the fungal spores can remain in your environment for up to 18 months!
If the infection is not that severe, the recovery period will only last about 6 weeks so you may have your dog out of quarantine earlier.
This does not mean that you must quarantine the dog for this long, but you will have to follow proper hygiene procedures for both you and the dog.
But this can only happen if your vet diagnosing ringworm has confirmed that dog ringworm infestation has been eliminated.
While it’s understandably distressing to quarantine your dog, keeping the rest of your family and other pets from ringworm spread is essential to breaking the cycle and to cure ringworm fungal infections.
Try to limit the dog’s direct contact with the rest of the family and other animals as much as possible i.e. touching with no gloves, trips to dog parks etc.
Can I Isolate My Dog with Ringworm Instead of Quarantining?
Yes, though this is a similar practice to quarantine.
You could isolate your dog if your vet confirms the ringworm infection on your dog.
Instead of quarantining, you can isolate the dog for a few weeks, typically around 6-7 weeks, for the infection to disappear.
It is best to isolate infected animals in easy-to-clean spaces to maintain a proper cleaning and treatment protocol for your pets.
It will also reduce the chances of re-infection in your dogs or other family members.
Is Ringworm Contagious from Dog to Dog?
Yes, ringworms can be transmitted from one dog to another.
Although ringworm is not typically a deadly disease, it is highly contagious.
This means that if a dog with ringworm encounters a person or another dog, they are also at high risk of getting infected.
Since dogs often roam around places they are not supposed to be, they have a higher chance of contracting the fungal infection from the environment and bringing it home or spreading it around the house.
The susceptibility to spread infection is even greater if you have baby pets like kittens or puppies.
Therefore, it is recommended that you isolate or quarantine your dog as soon as you know that they are infected to reduce the chances of exposure to the infection.
How Long Is a Dog Contagious with Ringworm?
If you catch the symptoms early on and use effective and aggressive treatment plans against the infection, it can go away within 3 weeks.
But ringworm spores can survive for up to 18 months.
Even after the recommended amount of time set by your vet for the quarantine or isolation period, you need to get a test done to ensure that the infection is gone before you return to normal life with your dog.
How Do You Know when Ringworm Is No Longer Contagious?
Once you take your dog to the vet after ringworm treatment, they will conduct another test and let you know if the dogs ringworm is gone or not.
You’ll also notice that your dog’s hair and scaly skin problems or skin lesions may have started to heal.
If the condition was severe, your dog might still have a long way to go to recover their fur after their skin infection, but they are no longer contagious if they get back a negative culture test result.
Typically, all ringworm infections are self-limiting, which means that they eventually disappear you’re your system within a few weeks or months.
But it would help if you still got the infection treated at the earliest for optimal results.
Ringworm in Dogs: FAQs
In our hours of research to produce this article, we found that the most frequently asked questions about a dog’s ringworm infection and whether you should quarantine them – and for how long – were the ones below.
Here are the answers to these often-asked questions:
What Shall I Do While My Dog is in Quarantine?
While treatment begins, you should be sure to thoroughly clean your whole house to prevent another skin infection caused by ringworm spores left on surfaces around the home.
Do the following:
- You should be washing bedding and other fabrics on a high heat
- Vacuum carpets and other soft furniture like your couch thoroughly
- Damp mopping with hot water or steam clean carpets and fabrics like curtains
- Use chlorine bleach or suitable disinfectants on hard surfaces
- Wear shoes around the house while cleaning to avoid catching ringworm on the skin under your feet and between your toes (athlete’s foot)
Can I Touch My Dog if He Has Ringworm?
Ringworm infections are highly contagious from dog to dog and dog to human.
So try your best to limit any direct contact and touching of the dog when they are under treatment.
You can use surgical gloves for bathing your dog or applying medication.
Make sure that you wash your hands after every contact.
How Often Should You Bathe a Dog with Ringworm?
Your vet will subscribe the best treatment based on their diagnosis – either anti-fungal oral medications, a topical treatment or both. Studies show that both in conjunction are the most effective treatment method (1)
If your vet has subscribed a topical treatment like an anti-fungal shampoo for dogs, then you’ll likely be told to give them baths at least 3 times a week, using the shampoo.
Frequent bathing will help remove the fungal spores from the coat.
This will also reduce the risk of re-infection. Repeat this procedure until the infection is entirely gone.
How Does Ringworm Transfer from Dog to Human?
Like any other contagious disease, ringworm can be transmitted from dogs to humans (or any infected animal) through direct exposure to the infection through touch.
It can also occur indirectly if you allow your infected dog to sit on your bed, use the same couch, or share the same room.
Ringworm spores can survive on surfaces like carpets and bedding for over a year.
Our Final Summary: Quarantine or Isolate a Dog With Ringworm Infection? (and How Long For)
Isolating your dog is a good option if your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm infection.
Like ringworm infections in humans, this infection in dogs is just as contagious and your dog can spread ringworm.
Fungal culture and spores can stay contagious for a maximum of 18 months, so be sure to thoroughly clean your environment which you have your pet quarantined to prevent reinfection.
The good news is that ringworms are far from fatal for your dogs.
So you can quickly consult your vet to diagnose ringworm and let them plan a treatment procedure that will allow you and your family to stay safe and, simultaneously, make the isolation period for your dog as effective and as short as possible.
The recommended amount of time for isolation will depend on the severity of the condition and how the infected dog responds to treatment.
Typically, quarantine or isolation can last between about 3-6 weeks if the ringworm diagnosis comes back positive from your vet.
Though spores can survive for over a year and remain dormant, which means you could be fighting ringworm repeatedly if you haven’t cleaned infected areas and contaminated objects thoroughly.
We hope this information leads to happy, healthy dogs and pet owners who don’t have to keep their dogs in quarantine any longer than necessary.
If you suspect your dog has ringworm due to broken hairs, hair loss or unhealthy looking skin cells (like circular lesions), seek medical attention immediately.
The faster you start treatment, the quicker you get your happy furry family member back.
(1) Karen A. Moriello, Kimberly Coyner, Susan Paterson, Bernard Mignon. Diagnosis and treatment of dermatophytosis in dogs and cats. Clinical Consensus Guidelines of the World Association for Veterinary Dermatology. 17 May 2017