Ringworm. Occurring three times more often in cats than dogs, ringworm (dermatophytosis) is the most common fungal infection in the world in animals. A zoonotic disease, ringworm infection can easily be spread not only among animals, but to humans as well. Children are especially susceptible to ringworm infection. Once your pet has been diagnosed, getting rid of ringworm can be a challenge that will require both hard work and patience.
Your pet with ringworm will likely be given anti-fungal medication in the form of a topical cream that is applied to the affected skin. If the ringworm infection is severe, oral and topical medications may be recommended by your veterinarian. Pets with severe cases of ringworm should be isolated from other pets to avoid spread of infection. Your veterinarian will perform fungal cultures after a course of treatment to determine whether the infection is gone.
When ringworm infected animals live inside the house, cleaning up the home environment can be expensive. Owners will be advised that for many items that the infected pet has had contact with, “Wash it or toss it,” is the general rule to avoid repeated fungal infections. Pet scratching posts, bedding, brushes, and blanks should be discarded ideally. If you cannot throw away everything, items that are retained should be washed in a hot water and iodine soap solution. (Be sure to wear long rubber gloves so that your skin does not come into contact with the water). After washing, soak the items in the same hot water – iodine solution for one hour and rinse with bleach water (one part chlorine bleach to ten parts water). These items should be allowed to dry thoroughly in the sun.
Unfortunately, there is more clean up to do in order to get rid of ringworm from your home. Long curtains or drapes should be dry cleaned. Floors and walls should be cleaned with chlorine bleach when possible. If you have carpet in your home, be certain to steam clean all areas that the ringworm infected animal has roamed and continue to vacuum daily. Air vents should be cleaned and disinfected and filters should be changed weekly. Clean and thoroughly disinfect your pets’ carrier. If your pet is being kept in isolation in a cage, remember to clean and disinfect this daily as well to be certain to get rid of ringworm and avoid inadvertently passing the fungal infection on to another animal. Always wear rubber gloves when disinfecting your home after a ringworm diagnosis. Continue wearing the gloves while cleaning until your veterinarian confirms that the fungal infection is gone.