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Ringworm in Cats & Dogs – Diagnosis and Treatment

Mar 24, 2020, 11:35 AM

Also known as Dermatophytosis, ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that primarily affects the upper layer of an animal’s skin and coat. Although this infection is harmless by nature, it is incredibly contagious and can spread to numerous species, including cats, dogs, and even humans.

In dogs, ringworm is mostly caused by Microsporum Canis (70% of cases), Microsporum Gypseum (20%), and Trichophyton Mentagrophytes (10%). As for cats, more than 95% of the cases are solely caused by Microsporum Canis. Some of the common symptoms brought about by this type of infection includes hair loss, dandruff, raised patches, and prurition at the infected area.

Most cases of dermatophytosis, especially in fit and healthy animals, can be treated within a space of 6-12 weeks. If you do see any signs or symptoms which suggest that your pet is infected, then seek veterinary attention today!

Ringworm in Cats & Dogs

How to Diagnose Ringworms

Thorough clinical examination and subsequent testing are mandatory for proper ringworm diagnosis. Based on the severity of your pets’ condition, your vet may advice you to conduct one of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Observation – The veterinarian will inspect your pet for any crusting, lesions, and scaling that has appeared as a result of ringworm.
  • Wood’s Lamp – A unique ultraviolet lamp that helps to provide a provisional ringworm diagnosis in dogs and cats. Although the test in itself is not expensive or invasive, the results are not always 100% accurate.
  • DTM Culture – For a more definitive diagnosis, your veterinarian might sometimes suggest a Dermatophyte Test Medium (DTM) fungal culture. The test is conducted by collecting the infected materials and testing it a special fungal culture medium that enables easy identification of specific dermatophyte species.

Ringworm in Dogs

Although the occurrence of ringworm in dogs is not so common, it can occur in animals suffering from immunodeficiency. Some of the common symptoms seen in dogs include circular patches of hair loss, dry hair, inflamed skin, and brittle claws.

Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm infections are quite common in cats, especially kittens. It can give rise to numerous symptoms, including irritated and reddened skin, darkened skin, itchiness, and hair loss, to name a few. In most cases, the infection appears mostly around the ears, face, or extremities and is readily visible. However, the infection may sometimes remain hidden, which in turn puts both humans and other animals under a threat of infection.

One of the more severe conditions caused by ringworm infection is called feline miliary dermatitis, a condition characterized by multiple papulocrustous lesions on the skin. Another condition to be aware of is pseudomycetmoa, characterized by cutaneous ulcerated nodules. How exactly an infection appears on an animal and its severity can drastically change between different breeds.

Treatment for Ringworm

Ringworm infections that occur in dogs and shorthaired cats are mostly mild and self-limiting. However, prompt diagnosis and treatment are a necessity to avoid the spread of this infection to other animals and humans. Over-the-counter antifungal creams and shampoos are highly effective in controlling and eliminating ringworm. Although not supported by clinical trials or studies, shortening of the coat hair can help in reducing the time required to cure the infection.

For more serious cases of ringworm infections, it is important to undertake a systematic treatment approach. As a word of note, it is sometimes seen that cats, especially those, which are immunodeficiency virus-positive, develop bone marrow suppression due to higher doses of medication. Digestive problems are also seen in cats and dogs due to griseofulvin administration.

How to Treat Ringworm in Cats and Dogs


When you are on the lookout for an antifungal medication or shampoo for your pet, be sure to make your purchase from a trusted brand such as Dermcare VET. One of their most popular products – the Malaseb Shampoo is a favorite among pet owners and veterinarians due to its effectiveness against ringworm. Malaseb when used in conjunction with an effective antifungal cream, helps to drastically reduce the time required for clinical resolution when compared to a systemic antifungal alone. The product is recommended for usage twice a week, with the overall treatment period lasting anywhere between 8-12 weeks in total.