Despite the misleading name, ringworm has nothing to do with worms. Ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection of the skin and nails. Typical signs of ringworm on cats and dogs are focal areas of crusting hairloss, especially on the face, head, and feet. These lesions may or may not be itchy.
Ringworm is a ZOONOTIC disease, meaning that it CAN BE TRANSMITTED TO PEOPLE. The typical time period (incubation time) from exposure to clinical signs of disease is between 4 days and 4 weeks.
Kittens and puppies less than 1 year old are most prone to infection. Long haired, geriatric, or otherwise immunocompromised cats are also more susceptible. This fungal disease is easily transmitted by contact with dishes, bedding, or toys that have been contaminated. This is why it is so easy for this disease to spread like wildfire in a kennel or shelter environment.
Diagnosis of ringworm disease is based on history of exposure, clinical signs of skin disease, a positive ultraviolet Wood’s lamp test (fungal coated hairs glow a bright apple-green), or positive fungal culture (gold standard). A typical history may involve adopting a new kitten recently from a shelter, since ringworm is common in high population density, high stress environments.
Cats and dogs infected with ringworm may experience a spontaneous remission without treatment, but it can take a very long time (3 months or more) for this to occur. In the meantime, the affected individual can infect countless other animals and people. They can also suffer from uncomfortable infections secondary to the ringworm infection or just the discomfort of the ringworm lesions themselves.
Treatment is recommended because it hastens clinical cure and reduces environmental contamination. Ringworm fungal spores shed easily into the environment and are viable for 18 months. Treatment can be frustrating and expensive (also smelly if a lime sulfur dip is used), so an individual plan must be made for each affected patient.
Lesions should begin to resolve within 1 to 3 weeks after initiating treatment (unless you’re dealing with a resistant strain). However, infected pets remain contagious to other animals and people for at least another 3 weeks after treatment begins. Most treatment regimens last 4-6 weeks, but the only way to confirm that an infection has truly resolved is with a series of 3 negative weekly fungal culture tests.
A treatment plan can be divided into oral medications, topical therapies, and environmental decontamination:
Please ask us any more questions that you may have concerning ringworm or prevention.
Quarry Hill Park Animal Hospital
2554 Clare Ln NE
Rochester, MN 55906
Hours of Operation
M W F: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 7:30 am - 5:30 pm
Thu: 7:30 am - 6:30 pm
Sat - Sun: Closed