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Should Patients with Ringworm Be Rehomed?

Jennifer Schissler Pendergraft, DVM, MS, DACVD, Colorado State University

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Dermatophytosis (ie, ringworm) is caused by a number of skin fungi and can infect humans and animals alike.1 

In General

  • Potential sources of infection include domestic animals, wildlife (eg, rabbits, rodents), and soil. 
  • Dogs and cats with dermatophytosis often have well-demarcated hair loss with variable pruritus, erythema, scale, and/or scabs. 
  • In humans, lesions often have a classic ring-like appearance of erythema and scale and usually respond to topical administration of antifungal drugs.  


  • Many skin diseases in dogs and cats mimic the appearance of dermatophytosis; fungal culture is recommended to confirm diagnosis.  
  • Some dogs and cats may be subclinical carriers of Microsporum canis. Carriers can be a source of infection for other dogs, cats, and/or humans in the home.2,3  
  • Possible genetic factors or pre-existing skin disease (eg, allergic dermatitis, immunocompromised state) may make some individuals more susceptible than others to developing dermatophytosis lesions.

Owner Communication

  • A pet with dermatophytosis does not need to be rehomed, but the family physician should be notified, particularly if the household includes children or immunocompromised family members.
  • A systematic, multipronged treatment approach (many drugs are effective) and environmental management plan should be developed.  
  • Fungal culture of resident dogs and cats should be conducted to assess for carrier status and to separate infected animals from negative animals.  
  • Thorough cleaning of the environment and bedding with soap and water, along with application of appropriate disinfectants, is recommended.  
    • Isolation of infected animals to areas with minimal carpeting and upholstery is ideal.  
  • Thorough hand washing should be performed after handling infected or carrier animals and contaminated bedding. 
  • Immunocompromised individuals should avoid contact with those infected until serial cultures confirm cure.

References and Author Information

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