What is ringworm in pets

Ringworm, the name strikes horror in the heart of pet owners. Ring worm is not a worm at all, but rather it is a fungal infection. The correct name is Dermatophytosis, and it is contagious to humans.


Ringworm is characterized by an area with hair loss. The area is not always round, but may be.

• Often the area is itchy.

• New patches appear over a series of days.

• The skin usually appears rough, or even scaly.

•The area may appear as a round red patch, in a worm like shape.

A veterinarian is required to get an accurate diagnosis as other problems, such as mange, may present in similar ways.


There are different fungal causes, and most often ringworm spreads through contact with other effected animals, however it normally lives in the environment and can easily attack a weakened animal.

Fungal diseases like this, thrive in moist, dark, areas, so keeping your pet dry (as when after a bath or swim) is key to prevention. For horse owners exposing the horse to sun, rather than keeping it stabled, is important, and a clean stall is also beneficial.

There are different fungi responsible, Trichophyton mentagrophytes (which generally infects cats or dogs who are allowed to hunt rodents), Microsporum gypseum, and Microsporum canis (the most common).

Ringworm can be spread from contact through an infected animal, or can be indirect as when an animal brushes against an area where and infected animal itched.

Ringworm can live in the environment, bedding, etc. for a year. Thus caution should be used when buying used pet supplies, particularly things like wooden dog houses.

Crowded conditions, particularly in humid environments, can contribute to the spread of ringworm.

Sharing supplies may result in ringworm being spread before symptoms show up. Particularly on longer haired cats it may be hard to notice until it has spread considerably. Pets who do not share the same living space should not share equipment. This would normally occur when dogs go to the groomer, or when guests come over with their pet.

Failure to seek medical attention for diagnosis and treatment is an other cause for the spread of this disease.

Failure to discard bedding, or other items which cannot be thoroughly disinfected may result in continued problems.


As mentioned earlier a veterinarian should be consulted to accurately diagnose the problem.

There are many anti-fungal treatments available.

Keep the animal away from others and the handler of the infected animal should avoid contact with other animals, even clothing should be washed as it could spread the disease.

Since people can contact ringworm it is wise to use gloves when treating the affected animal.