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Ringworm and Your Pets

Unlike tapeworms and heartworms, ringworm is not actually a worm. It’s a fungus that feeds on dead skin. And it can be passed on from your pets to you. People with compromised immune systems, very young children, and the elderly are particularly likely to pick up ringworm.

The good news: ringworm isn’t an especially dangerous fungus. In fact, the unsightly lesions are usually the worst of it.

In the WebMD Pet Health Community, M. Duffy Jones, DVM, says that ringworm is much more distinctive on your skin than on your pets'. The characteristic red, raised, scaly, circular lesions on human skin can vary in shape and can look a lot like other types of lesions on your pet. And sometimes, pets can shed ringworm spores even when they have no visible lesions themselves.

If you think your pet has ringworm, the only way to be sure is to take him or her to a vet. There, several tests can be performed, including:

  • Ultraviolet light examination
  • Fungal culture
  • Microscopic examination
  • Skin biopsy -- sometimes the only definitive way to diagnose ringworm

Treatment for ringworm includes oral medications, dips, and baths.

It’s important to keep the pet with ringworm isolated while she’s being treated, because she can continue to shed spores until the ringworm is wiped out. You’ll also need to disinfect the areas where she’s been in your home.

Discussion led by M. Duffy Jones, DVM Guest Expert
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