Ringworm is a skin condition of cats and dogs that is caused by a fungus. This condition is not caused by a “worm”, it just picked up the slang term of “ringworm”. This fungus is capable of spreading from animal to animal, animal to human, and human to animal. Because of this, anytime a pet is suspected of possibly having “ringworm”, it is important to evaluate the pet thoroughly, rule out other possibilities, and run a test to verify if ringworm exists.
Ringworm is treatable and this can be achieved by use of special shampoos, oral medication, and/or topical medications. What is used for your pet may depend on the severity of the infestation. If your pet does have ringworm, it is important to take care of it right away. You should also notify your personal physician in case you yourself may need medication to use personally.
Keep in mind that just because your pet has ringworm does not mean that you will contract it and it does not mean that if you do contract it, that it came from your pet. The scenario could be the opposite. In fact, your pet and yourself may have picked it up individually from an outside source. Because of this, it is important not to jump to conclusions.
The only true reliable method to diagnose ringworm is by culturing the fungus. A wood’s lamp is helpful in screening for the fungus but it is maybe 50-60% effective in definitively diagnosing the condition. When culturing for the fungus, results might not be available for 2-3 weeks. Because of this, treatment for ringworm may be instituted in the meantime depending on history and presentation of the pet.
It is very important to remember that many skin conditions of dogs and cats can look the same until diagnostic tests are run to distinguish between them. If you have questions about ringworm or any other skin condition, you can call de la Houssaye Animal Hospital and we would be happy to discuss them with you.
The above information is not meant to definitively diagnose a condition. It is only meant to help educate pet owners and we encourage them to seek professional assistance if needed.