Downeast Dog News

Is that Ringworm?

By Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH | Jun 01, 2021

Q. My dog has these rings all over and some are raised. Is it ringworm? Can I catch it?

A. Every spring, we celebrate the coming of the long-awaited sunshine and warmth. Grass becomes green, flowers bloom, trees bud, and the black flies blossom! Every year there is about a 2-week period when the temperature rises, allowing these little flies to actively bite us and our dogs. The typical bite on us is a painful, bleeding wound, but for Rover it looks different. What the guardian finds is a red circle with a red dot in the center on the skin of his companion. It looks like someone took a rubber stamp and stamped these bullseyes all over the belly, inner legs, and ears. Normally, that will be it, but there are some dogs who are bitten so badly that they have welts all over. I saw a lab that was up in the County with his guardian fishing. This poor guy was covered head to toe with the identifying marks, which were painful, itchy welts. This is not the typical reaction but if Rover is sensitive to the bites an allergic reaction can occur.

The “black fly season” usually lasts 2 weeks and moves around the state. Entomologists say Maine has several species of these little pests illustrating how healthy our environment is, however, they don’t hatch at the same time. This means you and Rover can be bitten off and on throughout the summer.

Black flies are not the only biting insects our four-legged companions have to deal with while out and about. Anyone who enjoys hiking in the Maine woods have come across mosquitoes, deer flies, and moose flies to name a few.

You and your companion do not need to suffer these nasty pests while enjoying the outdoors. There are many approaches to prevent these bites. If you prefer to use a once-a-month topical flea and tick medicine make sure the product says it is an insect repellent too. Just like for people there are “clothing” impregnated with permethrin for dogs to wear when outside. There are many companies that make vests, gators, bandanas, T shirts, and tank tops for dogs. They are available locally and online. Be sure to keep these garments away from the family cat. Permethrin is toxic to cats. If you want to stay away from the chemicals, you will find many products that work well as bug repellents that are safe and easy to use. You will need to apply them often to be affective. Many people are making their own repellent by using appropriate essential oils. Another home recipe is to take two cups of water and bring it to a boil. Add one cut up lemon into the pot. Cover the pot and let it steep over night off the heat. In the morning you can sponge or spray the citrus liquid on your dog before going outside. This concoction also helps reduce itchiness.


Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH

Animal Wellness Center

Augusta, Maine