Ringworm – Ewww! Just the name conjures up images of a long worm weaving a ring under your skin. In fact, ringworm is not a worm at all, it is actually caused by a fungus which is highly contagious.
In humans, ringworm is a ring shaped red rash on the skin, but in your pet it can look like most anything. A common human form of ringworm is otherwise known as athletes foott. Dogs and cats are susceptible to three forms of ringworm, and your cat can pass ringworm on to you, although only a small percentage of human cases are caused by the same fungus that infects dogs and cats. The people who have the highest chance of catching ringworm from their pet are young children, the elderly and people with a weak immune system. Most people will develop an immunity and therefore will rarely contract the same strain again.
There are three forms of ringworm that affect dogs and cats. Cats tend to become infected with the most common form. A second form is carried by rats and can be picked up by dogs who might dig in rodent burrows. A third form can be found in soil fungus.
How do you tell if your pet has ringworm?
One sign could be patchy hair or crusty bumps on the skin. If your pet is itching one spot all the time this could be a sign. If you suspect your cat or dog has ringworm, take him to the vet right away. Treatment needs to be quick and aggressive, generally using topical dips or shampoos, clipping your pets hair and in some cases an oral anti fungal can be prescribed. In dogs Ketoconazole is usually prescribed and in cats Itraconazole. Another flea control program, namely Program, can also be used and is given to cats and dogs orally.
Treatment can last for 8 weeks or more and you need to continue it until your vet confirms that no ringworm is present, even if your pet seems like it is getting better!Treating your home is also important in the control of ringworm. Fungal spores can persist in places like your carpet for up to 2 years. Hair tends to be the enemy, therefore getting rids of pet hairs in your home is the best way to rid the fungus from your home. Ringworm fungus like to grow in dark spaces like hair and debris, therefore regular emptying of your vacuum is essential. If you have ringworm in your home, empty the vacuum bag each time you vacuum.
Lee Dobbins writes for many pet related websites including E Pet Center . Visit the E Pet Center for the latest in pet care and pet health .