What is Ringworm?
Ringworm, also referred to as dermaphytosis, is a highly contagious fungal infection of the skin. It typically affects the scalp, body and nails. Ringworm tends to affect younger animals more frequently. Pets with weakened immune systems or pre-existing skin disorders are also more susceptible to ringworm.
What Causes Ringworm?
This infection is transmitted directly from one animal to the other animal. Pets may also spread the infection to people or it may be spread from person to person. Because fungi is part and parcel of our environment, this infection in pets may also be spread indirectly by sharing food and water bowls, hair brushes, sleeping environments or digging in contaminated soil.
Fungi that Cause Ringworm
There are three types of fungi that cause ringworm and these include Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes:
- In cats, most cases of ringworm develop as a result of Microsporum canis
- In dogs, most cases of ringworm develop as a result of Microsporum gypseum
- Both dogs and cats may develop ringworm as a result of Trichophyton mentagrophytes if they are exposed to rodents or the burrows they inhabit.
The diagnosis is based on the appearance of the skin as well as performing certain diagnostic tests. Tests such as a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, urinalysis and fungal culture may be performed. In addition, further tests such as a Woods lamp examination as well as microscopic examination of hairs may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis of ringworm.
Symptoms and signs
The most common symptoms and signs of ringworm include:
- Small patches or circular areas of hair loss
- Inflamed, scaly skin
- Scratching and itchiness
Help for Ringworm
Treatment involves various oral and topical medications, vaccinations against ringworm as well as proper hygiene and sanitation of your home and pet’s environment. In some pets, ringworm resolves by itself. However, medications can cure the infection and speed recovery. Oral medications such as Griseofulvin, Ketoconazole or lufenuron may be prescribed but have been known to cause serious side effects.
Topical treatments such as shampoos and anti-fungal creams are used to reduce infection in other people and animals. Your pet’s hair will be clipped in order for treatment to be more effective.
While vaccinations for ringworm are available, they are not effective alone and should be used in conjunction with oral or topical therapy. Make sure that you clean your home and pet’s environment thoroughly with sodium hypochlorite solution (bleach) and avoid contact with other pets.
Natural and holistic treatments have proven to be highly effective in treating skin problems in both humans and pets. Herbal and aromatherapy treatments are safe and gentle to use on your pet without any harsh side effects.
Carefully selected ingredients such as Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree Oil), Azadirachta indica (Neem), Calendula officinalis (Marigold) and Hamamelis virginianum (Witch hazel) promotes healthy skin and coat in your dog or cat and helps to support the immune system.
More Information on Ringworm
Tips to Prevent Ringworm in Pets
There are a number of things that you can do to prevent ringworm in both dogs and cats and these include:
- Feed your pet high quality commercial food or an all natural diet without preservatives, additives or colorants
- Always provide fresh, clean water for your pet to flush out toxins and –prevent dehydration
- Practice good sanitation habits such as regularly disinfecting and cleaning your pet’s food and water bowls as well as sleeping environment
- Do not share your pet’s food bowls, grooming items, blankets or toys with other pets
- Bath or spray your pet with an antifungal repellant upon his return from cat or dog shows as well communal kennels and catteries
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling pets
- Avoid exposing a dog or cat with ringworm to other animals or people
- Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are updated regularly
- Visit your vet annually for routine check ups and to ensure the overall health and wellbeing of your pet