Ringworm in dogs (or ringworm in cats) are skin infections not caused by worms, but a result of a fungal infection known as dermatophytosis. Let us study the details of ringworm in dogs and cats.
Ringworm in dogs
Three types of fungal organisms are mainly responsible for ringworm in dogs: Microsporum Canis, Microsporum Gypseum and Trichophyton Mentagrophytes.
M. Canis is the most common type of fungus that can lead to ringworm in dogs (as well as their human handlers). The fungal skin infection occurs when the animal (or human) comes in direct contact with the spores of the fungus.
Alternatively, dogs can also get infected by M. Gypseum, a fungal variety that grows in the soil. When a dog digs such soil, it can get infected with the spores of Gypseum. The third kind of fungus, Trichophyton Mentagrophytes, is mainly present on rodents. Dogs can get infected with these spores when they come in contact with the burrows of the pests leading to symptoms of ringworm in dogs.
Long haired dogs, immuno-suppressed or geriatric dogs as well as young puppies can all develop ringworm in dogs’ infection.
Symptoms of ringworm in dogs
Like in humans, ringworm in dogs can affect the face, abdominal region, as well as the dog’s ears. The infection mainly forms a circular ring having hair loss at the centre or a red lesion with a distinct red circumference.
Other symptoms include:
- Scaling or peeling skin
- Thick and crusty skin
Ringworm in cats
Like in dogs, cats can get ringworm infections from M. Canis, Microsporum Sypseum or Trichophyton fungi. All these fungal spores thrive in warm and humid environment where they can survive for up to a year. As is the case with dogs; cats can also get the infection by coming in contact with infected animals or their bedding, dishes and other items. Thus, if a cat is recurrently suffering from ringworm infections, it is vital to dispose its bedding, hair brushes and other objects that may still be having the fungal spores on them.
Kittens that are less than a year old, older/geriatric cats and cat breeds with long flowing hair are more susceptible to ringworm in cats.
Symptoms of ringworm in cats
The main symptoms of ringworm in cats are:
- Skin lesions on the forehead
- Flaky and bald patches
- Dandruff like appearance on the skin
- Localized/patchy or all-over loss of hair
Diagnosing ringworm in cats and dogs
If you suspect that your dog or cat is having a ringworm infection, it is important to see the vet immediately. Such skin infections can spread very easily and can also affect other pets as well as humans in the household. If needed, you must separate the pet or confine it to a quarantined area to prevent the fungal spores from spreading. Family members must be encouraged to wash their hands after handling the pet.
Some types of ringworm in cats and ringworm in dogs are asymptomatic. An experienced vet can take a look at the pet’s skin to determine if the infection is indeed caused by a fungus. In other cases, a UV light may be required to accurately diagnose ringworm in cats and dogs. In very severe infections, skin cultures may be required to correctly identify the type of fungus causing the ringworm. This can help pet owners start the right course of antifungal medication for treating the ringworm in cats or ringworm in dogs.