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Vet Talk: Ringworms in Dogs and Cats

Posted September 15, 2017

hillary-cook

In my veterinary practice, I see a lot of cat and dog patients with itchy skin. One reason for an itchy pet is a ring worm infection. Ringworm, which is actually not a worm but a fungus on the skin and top layers of hair, is caused by fungi called dermatophytes.  The most  common of these fungi in pets is called Microsporum canis.

Why You Should Be Concerned About Ringworms in Dogs and Cats

Ringworm is highly contagious to humans, especially to children, the elderly and the immunocompromised. Dogs and cats have an increased chance of contracting ringworm from environments that are densely populated with animals, like an animal shelter or kennel. Pets with illness or a weak immune system are also at risk for ringworm.

Humans infected with ringworm get red and itchy skin lesions in the shape of a ring. In dogs and cats, it also presents as a ring on the skin and is sometimes accompanied with hair loss. Sometimes, especially in mild cases, it is difficult to notice a ringworm infection in your pet due to little hair loss. Severe cases of ringworm can lead to large amounts of fur loss coupled with scaly, dry, irritated circular lesions, poor hair and coat, red or darkened skin, and itchiness.

In some cases, dermatophytosis shows as raised, rounded, knotty (nodular) lesions known as granulomatous lesions, or boils, and raised nodular lesions that frequently ooze. There may also be inflammation of the fur surrounding the claw.  Occasionally, dogs and cats are classified as carriers; harboring the disease-causing fungus, but presenting no visible signs of the condition. However, even these dogs and cats are contagious to humans and other animals.

Diagnosing ringworm in dogs and cats is done by a thorough exam by your veterinarian.  It will involve a combination of testing, including a culture of the lesions, and other testing including a skin scrape, and tape test, to rule out other causes of the skin disease, and may even include a skin biopsy. Dogs and cats most commonly develop ringworm because of infections with the fungi Microsporum canisMicrosporum gypseum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. The incidence of each fungus varies according to your geographical location.

Should You Quarantine a Pet with Ringworm?

In severe cases, quarantine procedures should be considered due to the infective and zoonotic (transmittable to humans) nature of some types of dermatophytosis.

Treatment of Ringworm

If your veterinarian needs to prescribe antifungal medications- topical and oral are available depending on the severity of the infection.

Cleaning the environment to remove contaminated hair is recommended to prevent reinfection and new infections.  Vacuuming, washing down surfaces, and restricting your dog or cat to areas where cleaning can be done easily is recommended. Treatment may take up to 6 weeks depending on the case.

Excellent nutrition, and immune boosting supplements are recommended to hasten healing and prevent infection.

NHV Felimm, which contains herbs that are useful in fighting fungal and viral infections is recommended. As well, use the Ouch Away Spray, which helps with inflammation, infection, and hair growth.

For additional immune support, try the BK Detox and ES Clear, which are particularly useful for immunocompromised animals.

NHV PetOmega 3, omega fish-oils are always recommended as they help with skin and coat condition. Finally, Matricalm is useful when an animal is constantly stressed, thereby decreasing their immune system.

Is your pet suffering from ringworm? Would you like some professional holistic advice? Please contact me for a on-line veterinary consultation, or feel free to contact your NHV Pet Experts.



Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

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