Signs of Ringworm in Dogs and Cats
In mild cases of ringworm, you may not notice anything at all. In more serious cases, you might notice the following symptoms:
- Dandruff-like scaling in the depths of the coat
- Red lesions on the head, chest, forelegs and the ridge of the back
- Scaling, crusting, thickening and reddening of the skin
- Circular patches of hair loss (alopecia) on the head, tail or the ridge of the dog or cat’s back
Treatment of Ringworm
There are a number of options to effectively treat ringworm, depending on the severity of the lesions.
Creams and ointments
For mild cases, antifungal creams and ointments can be applied directly to the affected areas of your pet’s skin. If the infection is widespread, your vet may prescribe an antifungal shampoo to treat your pet’s entire body. It’s important that you only use ointments and shampoos that have been recommended by your vet, as other products may aggravate the condition.
While ointments can be effective in mild cases, most of the time your pet will also need to take an oral anti-fungal drug to eradicate the infection. Treatment usually needs to be continued for at least six weeks and sometimes longer. When administering oral medication, remember the following:
- Do not abruptly stop treatment, or stop it sooner than recommended, as the infection may recur.
- If you have other pets in the house, keep the infected animal separated
- In some cases, it may be best to treat all animals together – your vet will be able to provide a recommendation on this.
Prevention of Ringworm
The fungi that cause ringworm love to live in warm, damp environments like soil. They then attach to hair and skin cells shed by humans and animals. While there is not much you can do to prevent these conditions, there are a number of other actions that you can take to prevent you and your family from catching the infection:
- Regularly clean pet blankets and other bedding from your cat or dog’s quarters
- Regularly dispose of any hairs from your pet’s grooming brush
- Remove skin cells and hair from your home by regularly vacuuming the house
- Disinfect other common areas of the house where your pets tend to live
Roundworms are extremely common parasites that spend their adult lives in the intestines of puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats. There are several species of roundworms. Some can grow to about 7 inches in length and cause severe illness, especially in younger pets.
Mother dogs can pass roundworms to developing puppies in the uterus or through milk when the puppies are nursing. Kittens do not become infected in utero, but they can become infected when nursing.
Signs and Identification
Puppies and kittens are usually the most severely affected and often look potbellied. Other signs include:
- Dull, thin coat
- Failure to gain weight
Veterinarians routinely treat young pets with an antiparasite medication several times, interrupting the worm’s life cycle via parasiticide treatment every few weeks until pets can be placed on a monthly heartworm preventive that also controls roundworms and other intestinal parasites.
Roundworm infections are very common in puppies and kittens, but eggs aren’t always apparent in fecal material from infected pets. Your veterinarian may therefore recommend deworming puppies or kittens even if a fecal test does not confirm a roundworm infection. Many antiparasite medications kill only adult worms in the intestines, not the migrating younger worms or eggs. Therefore, if a pet is infected with roundworms, a veterinarian may recommend two to three rounds of treatment to clear the infection. Generally, fecal samples are rechecked after treatment to make sure the infection has been resolved.
Because roundworm eggs can remain infective in the environment for months to years, pet feces should be removed and disposed of immediately.
When walking your dog, keep him or her on a leash to help reduce exposure to areas that may have been contaminated by other dogs or cats. This will also minimize the chance of your dog eating infected rodents and birds.
If possible, cats should be kept indoors to prevent them from hunting infected prey. However, even indoor animals can catch infected mice. Sharing litterboxes and outdoor bathroom areas can spread roundworms among pets, so new pets should be tested for roundworms and other internal parasites before being introduced to your household.
Always consult a veterinarian about the best ways to protect a pet — and its human family — against intestinal parasites. A monthly heartworm preventive that includes medication for roundworms is a good start for year-round protection from these parasites. Since it’s easy to forget a monthly treatment and no parasiticide is 100 percent effective, periodic fecal exams are still recommended to ensure that a pet remains parasite free.