The Fungus Among Us: When Your Pet Has Ringworm
If there’s an upside to ringworm, perhaps it’s the fact that it’s not a parasitic worm that feeds off of pets and people alike. The downside, of course, is that ringworm is a skin disease caused by a fungus. Responsible for causing circular, inflamed lesions, ringworm looks a lot like a worm curling up on the skin. It infects the skin, hair, and nails and causes various uncomfortable symptoms. What’s worse is that if your pet has ringworm they can easily spread it to other pets in the home – and to people, as well.
Pumping the Breaks
It’s true. Ringworm is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be passed between animals and humans. Children, seniors, and individuals with compromised immune systems are more likely to become infected with the fungus. If you see suspicious skin lesions, we recommend scheduling a veterinary exam.
If you have a pet with ringworm, quarantining them from the rest of the household is crucial until they’re no longer contagious. Additionally, pets can be silent carriers of the fungus and have the ability to spread it to others without any obvious symptoms. This can make it extra hard to address and treat.
Where Did This Come From?
Ringworm is spread by contaminated bedding, furniture, gear, and any surfaces or objects handled by an infected individual. Fungal spores can live in the environment (and can be potentially infectious) for up to an entire year!
Keeping those infected with ringworm away from public places is critical to containing the spread.
Know the Signs
Ringworm, also referred to as dermatophytosis, causes a tell-tale symptom: a reddened circle on the skin’s surface. As it infects the superficial layer of skin, the fungus takes over the hair follicles. This can lead to round patches of hair loss. If left alone, ringworm can spread all over the body resulting in these symptoms:
- Scaly or flaky skin (dandruff)
- Poor coat appearance
Problems that affect a pet’s skin can be very irritating and stressful. In addition to reducing the spread of ringworm, promptly treating this fungal infection keeps a pet feeling and looking their best.
Should I Freak Out?
A physical examination can help us identify the round, red lesions on your pet’s skin. A close look at a hair follicle under a microscope or UV light can confirm a diagnosis of ringworm.
Depending on the severity of a pet’s infection, treatment will vary. Minor infections can be soothed with anti-fungal applications to the skin, or bathing with a medicated shampoo. Oral antifungals and other prescriptions can stop ringworm and secondary infections.
My Pet Has Ringworm!
Treatment is effective but it can take up to a few months to fully eradicate your household. Early treatment, dedicated quarantining, and full environmental decontamination are essential strategies.
If you know or suspect that your pet has ringworm, please don’t wait. Immediate action is part of the process, resulting in quick treatment and positive outcome.