Ringworm in Cats and Dogs
Ringworm is not actually a worm-it’s a fungal infection caused by the dermatophyte fungi. While generally harmless, it can be transferred from animals to humans. In fact, it’s highly contagious to humans, especially children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system. Pets often catch ringworm from other pets, from people, or from contaminated soil.
Cats are infected more often than dogs. Symptoms may include broken hairs, crusty or reddened skin, circular patches of hair loss (alopecia), and itchiness; however, ringworm can be hard to see on animals due to their fur. In mild cases, you might not notice anything.
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination looking for skin lesions and scaling. We will want to rule out other possible causes such as allergies, sarcoptes or demodex mites. We may use a special ultraviolet light called a Wood’s lamp and take a sample of your pet’s fur to look for fungal spores under a microscope. A fungal culture may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment of ringworm can include topical antifungal creams and ointments and oral antifungal medications. If the infection is widespread, we may recommend an antifungal shampoo. Your home will need to be thoroughly disinfected by vacuuming and washing surfaces to rid the environment of any fungal spores. It can take up to six weeks for treatments to be effective.
Call us right away if you suspect your pet or a person in your household has ringworm. Avoid skin-to-skin contact and don’t share towels, clothing, brushes, furniture, pet beds, or other household items.
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