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How to Identify and Treat Ringworm

A simple test is all it takes to determine if Fluffy or Fido has ringworm.  It’s a common pet problem with a common misconception.  Dr. Kristen Fulham says ringworm is not an actual worm or even caused by one.  Rather, it’s a fungal disease found in the environment.  “There’s some ringworms that like to hide out in the soil so if you think about dogs like our terrier dogs that like to root and dig, they can get a certain type of ringworm,” says Dr. Fulham.

Common symptoms of ringworm include itching and hair loss.  On a cat it generally shows up around the face.  However, it can appear almost anywhere on cats, dogs… even humans.  “It’s typically a disease that’s confined typically in the skin when we think about ringworm.  The big keynote is that this is a contagious disease so this could be spread to other pets in the household as well as humans too as well.”

A recent case stands out.  Within just one household, Southeast Veterinary Specialists found ringworm on a cat, a dog and its owner!  All of them had to be treated.  Dr. Fulham says, “There’s several forms of treatment.  Usually we like to do a combination of topical and systemic so there’s some topical shampoos and things of that nature that we like use in conjunction with anti-fungal systemic medication.”  Ringworm can take several months to treat and it doesn’t stop with medication.  It’s important to decontaminate the environment as well, so break out the vacuum and make good use of the mop!

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