Lime sulfur dips for dogs are often used for dogs suffering from skin problems such as ringworm. Ringworm is a fungal infection of the hair and hair follicles. It may affect any part of the body but often develops on the face and ears. It occurs more frequently in pups than in adult dogs. The most common cause of ringworm is microsporum canis, but other types of fungi (microsporum gypseum and trichophyton mentagrophytes) can also cause the disease.
Ringworm in Dogs
Dogs affected by ringworm typically show skin irritation resembling an allergic reaction, and a circular loss of hair, where infection occurs. However, not all dogs respond typically.
The less common ringworm-producing fungi (M. gypseum and T. mentagrophytes) often cause more inflamed and irregular areas of hair loss. Affected hair can easily be pulled from the skin. Ringworm does not usually cause itchiness, but secondary bacterial infection may occur, producing crusts that cause the dog to lick and scratch itself excessively.
Ringworm infection can mimic a variety of other skin conditions, and conversely many problems that look like ringworm turn out to be something else. Diagnosis is therefore by signs along with specific tests.
Hairs infected with M. canis fluoresce under ultraviolet light, while hairs infected with other causes of ringworm do not. A fungal culture confirms the diagnosis, but because culture can take a week or more, treatment often begins before the culture reveals the type of fungus involved.
Treatment of Ringworm in Dogs
More often than not, mild cases of ringworm in otherwise healthy dogs are suppressed by the immune system and improve without treatment. Pups, and individuals with more severe infections or compromised immune systems, are less capable of fighting off the infection.
Even if only a small area is visibly infected, such dogs should be completely bathed in an antifungal shampoo. Small areas of infection are then treated topically with an antifungal cream or lotion (usually miconazole or ketoconazole).
Treatment continues until at least two weeks after all of the signs have disappeared or two weeks after the fungal culture is negative. In severe cases, your vet may give oral antibiotics – usually griseofulvin, which should be given for at least four weeks.
Commonly prescribed drugs for ringworm are safe and effective for most dogs. Grisofulvin and ketoconazole, however, can cause birth defects. Therefore, they should not be given to pregnant dogs nor be handled by pregnant women.
Lime Sulfur Dips For Dogs with Ringworm
Lime sulfur is an antimicrobial and antiparasitic solution specifically designed to fight off serious skin conditions associated with non-specific dermatitis and parasitic skin infections and infestations. The product is particularly beneficial for treating sarcoptic and demodectic mange infections, ringworm infections and lice infestations. In addition of killing mites, lime sulfur is powerful against bacteria and fungi.
Lime sulfur is a topical liquid that contains 97.8% lime sulfur concentrate and 2.2% inert ingredients. The product acts by easing the symptoms commonly associated with skin conditions (like itching and irritation).
Lime sulfur comes in two forms – as a shampoo or dip. Both the shampoo and the dip can come in either premixed or concentrate form. Although lime sulfur shampoos and dips are available over the counter, it is not advisable to use them without medical prescription.
The frequency of washing or dipping with lime sulfur depends on the severity of the ringworm infection. Most dogs require weekly bathing or dipping for at least a month. Lime sulfur is relatively safe and can be used in young puppies.
When using the lime sulfur solution, make sure all affected areas are well-moistened. However, the product must be kept out of the dog’s eyes, nose and mouth. To avoid contaminating these sensitive areas it is recommended to use a sponge. Once applied the solution should not be rinsed off. Instead of towel drying and blow drying the dog, let it naturally air dry. The lime sulfur must not be ingested. If your dog is curious and likes licking itself, then it might be a good idea to use an E-collar to prevent ingesting.
Since lime sulfur has an awful smell (like rotten eggs) it is highly advisable to avoid bathing your dog in the bathtub. Outdoor facilities suitable for bathing and dipping are the right alternative. If using the product indoors, make sure the room is well-ventilated. The odor is quite piercing and wearing safety glasses can be helpful. Additionally, lime sulfur leaves stains. Therefore, you should wear old clothes when bathing or dipping your dog. Light colored dogs are also at risk of getting stained.
It should be well noted that even if only one dog has ringworm symptoms, all dogs in the household should be equally treated with lime sulfur shampoo or dip. Ringworm is extremely contagious and more often than not dogs can be asymptomatic carriers.
All in all, lime sulfur is highly effective, affordable and easy to use.
How Contagious is Ringworm?
Ringworm spreads as easily among dogs as athlete’s foot spreads among us. As with athlete’s foot, there need not to be direct contact with the carrier. Ringworm can be left in the environment by a carrier and then picked up by another dog.
If your dog has ringworm, isolate it from other pets until your vet gives the all-clear. Cover its bedding or any furniture that it lies on and with a sheet and wash the sheet every two days using a mild bleach solution to kill the ringworm spores. Give your home a thorough vacuuming. It is also advisable to dip all of your dog’s grooming implements in a solution of one part bleach and 32 parts water.
When applying treatment creams and dips to your dog make sure you wear protective rubber gloves and wash your hands regularly. This is the best way of preventing further ringworm spreading.
About the Author
Dr. Ivana Crnec is a graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. She currently practices as a veterinarian in Bitola and is completing her postgraduate studies in the Pathology of Domestic Carnivores at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb, Croatia.Ivana’s research has been published in international journals, and she regularly attends international veterinary conferences.