Ringworm is an extremely contagious fungal infection that can affect cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, and even humans. Having pets may increase your chances of introducing ringworm into your home. Therefore, it is important to know the signs and treatments of ringworm in order to limit potential damage.
What is Ringworm?
Despite its name, ringworm does not include any squiggly insects. Rather, it is a fungal infection that appears as a red ring on the skin. It can be difficult to spot, especially under a full coat of fur. It thrives in humid conditions, and therefore it is most common in hot climates and on sweatier parts of the body.
There are varying levels of ringworm. Pets with a mild condition may not show symptoms. However, in more serious cases, you may notice dandruff-like flaking, discolored or crusty skin, hair loss in patches, and/or itching. In some cases, you may find the typical red “ring” lesion, usually on the head, tail, or back. However, these can be incredibly hard to spot.
Ringworm is mainly dangerous for its contagious nature. Ringworm fungi can survive for up to 18 months on surfaces such as bedding and dishes. If you have reason to believe that your pet has been exposed to ringworm, you should contact your veterinarian.
Other ailments such as spider bites and eczema can appear like ringworm. These have different treatments, so it is important to properly diagnose your pet’s infection. A vet can do this with a variety of diagnostic tests. These may include observation, a Wood’s (or ultraviolet) lamp, a microscope, or fungal culturing.
Treating ringworm can take several weeks, and there are many different methods vets use to treat ringworm. Topical treatments include antifungal creams, ointments, and shampoos. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may apply treatments to one specific spot or over your pet’s entire body. Oral medications are used in more serious cases. An infected pet should always be kept separate from other pets and people in the home during the treatment period.
It is also important to rid the home of any lingering fungi. Anything your pet may have come into contact with should be vacuumed, washed, or otherwise sanitized. This will ensure that ringworm will not persist in your home.
At Claws N Paws Day Spa, we provide professional grooming services to both cats and dogs. For more information or to set up an appointment, contact us at 714-962-1005 or stop by our location in Fountain Valley today!