What is Ringworm?

MP900316851When we started breeding and showing Persian cats 25 years ago, we learned the hard way how troublesome ringworm can be. The persistent spores spread easily around the home and cattery, kennel or stable. In order to treat ringworm, you need to remember these basic steps.

  1. Treat your animal (or animals).
  2. Treat the environment, including yourself.
  3. Spores will harbor, don’t stop treating too soon.

With this in mind, let’s investigate what ringworm is and how it affects people, pets, and your environment.

Ringworms are dermatophytes that cause dermatophytosis, which is a fungal infection of skin, nails and hair. In addition to infecting a variety of animals, ringworm is contagious to people. Children, adults and animals with a suppressed immune system are especially vulnerable. Ringworm spores can survive for years in a suitable environment. Three species, known as Microsporum canis – cats, dogs and horses; Microsporum gypseum – cats,dogs and horses; and Trichophyton mentagrophytes- cats, dogs and horses, account for 95% of all cases. Additionally, Trichophyton equinum – horses and cattle; Trichophyton rubrum and Epidermophyton flocosum – humans, are also common. It is also possible to be infected by more than one species.  SEE OUR ACTIVITY CHART FOR THESE SPECIES.

These species secrete Keratinolytic Protease which provides fungus nutrients that can cause the infection or ringworm to spread. This process degrades the capability of normal proteins of Keratin, found naturally in hair and fur. Not to worry. Health Guard Products are active against ringworm and the protease infection that causes the spreading, along with residual activity against the spread of spores.

Unfortunately, ringworm knows no boundaries. It lives in soil and can be carried by rodents, fleas and mites.  Animals, especially those allowed outdoors, can be free of symptoms while carrying the spores on the fur or skin. People with athlete’s foot can also be carriers. Ringworm spreads easily from person to person, animal to animal and animal to person. Many objects in your house, cattery or kennel can harbor spores. Two examples are carpeting and heating/air conditioning systems, so the environment is equally important

How do I know if my pet has Ringworm?

Ringworm is a great imposter because it can vary in its presentation. The most common type of infection in animals occurs when dermatophytes /ringworm penetrates the skin and invades the hair/fur follicles. Infected skin may become scaly or crusty. Infected hair becomes brittle, dry, lusterless, and often breaks off. This produces the characteristic bald patches. Your Veterinarian can run fungal cultures, or a use a UV Woods lamp in the diagnosis of ringworm. UV lights from Health Guard can also be used in the diagnosis of ringworm, at a significant savings.  Under UV ringworm will usually fluoresce green when active and orange/brown when subdue.

How do I treat my pet?

If your pet has received the diagnosis of ringworm, begin treatment immediately. Keep in mind you will need to treat both the pet and the environment. Infected pets should be kept isolated from other animals until the ringworm infection clears up. Do not show the animal or allow people to handle it.

If your pet has long hair it is a good idea to clip the hair around the affected area. This will make it easier for the treatment to reach the area to be treated. Be very careful to discard all cut hair in a closed bag and vacuum up any loose hair. The next step is to bathe your pet in a shampoo that is both gentle to the skin and effective in the eradication of ringworm. We recommend our Health Guard Antibacterial Shampoo and Medicated Spray. By bathing your pet once or twice a week you remove the spores from the skin and fur, and facilitate the healing process of the ringworm lesions.

After bathing and in-between bathing treat the lesions with our Medicated Spray. This is a leave-on spray that should be used once a day, between bathing. Many people use this product as a preventive treatment. It does not leave any oily residue. The Medicated Spray is very popular with breeders and animal shelters, and is an excellent maintenance spray for your groomer to use on your pet. Health Guard Shampoo is also a valuable maintenance and conditioning product for your groomer to use on your pet. It is active against Gram positive and Gram negative cross contamination which may cause upper respiratory conditions.

Our Fungal Spot Treatment only requires one to two drops on the infected area during the initial diagnosis. This fast acting product should be used one to two days prior to shampooing. Continued usage for more than 5 days is not recommended. If suspicious of infection, start with the fungal spot treatment or medicated spray.  This keeps you in control.

Depending on the degree of infestation normal recovery is generally a couple of weeks. Timely shampooing and maintenance is recommended to maintain a healthy coat for your pet. The name of the game is to prevent cross contamination and control your situation.

In some cases ringworm can get into the pet’s bloodstream, requiring internal medication from your Veterinarian. Exterior treatment has its advantages over internal medication. It is best to treat topically, however, in tenacious or widespread cases internal medication may be needed.

Treating the environment

When treating the environment, remember that spores can be anywhere, including you and in the air around you. It is a good idea to vacuum often and throw away the vacuum cleaner bags to keep the spores from continuing to grow and spread. Health Guard Laundry Additive will help kill the ringworm and then protect against re-contamination by means of residual activity. Residual activity is important in breaking the ringworm cycle, and saving you time. Disinfecting or replacing your furnace filter, and cleaning your carpet and furniture will also reduce your exposure.

All bedding used by the infected pet should be thoroughly washed with the Health Guard Laundry Additive. Any grooming equipment also needs to be disinfected.

And last but not least is our Antibacterial Hand Lotion. Yes, you can spread ringworm back to other people, animals and the environment. Use the Antibacterial Hand Lotion on your hands before and after working with your pet. This measure will help prevent cross contamination. It is excellent for dry and sensitive skin.

How do I keep Ringworm from coming back?

You can breathe a sigh of relief as you can see your pet’s skin return to normal. However, it is extremely important not to stop treating too soon. Those nasty little spores can still be lurking around. Some experts believe the spores can harbor in a home, cattery, kennel or stable for up to ten years. Therefore, continue disinfecting for at least 3 weeks after your pet is free from all clinical signs. Make sure to continue bathing your pet every two weeks for one month, beyond the time when the ringworm symptoms have stopped.

In addition, pay special attention to your pet’s overall health and condition. Animals that are sick, overcrowded, stressed, poorly groomed or malnourished are more susceptible to ringworm or disease. Some neglected animals may be carriers or have it in their blood system, requiring internal medication. Since internal medication has its down sides, external treatment offers the best solution.

Many experienced breeders use our products for preventive measures. A regular bath with our Health Guard Antibacterial Shampoo is a wise idea for animals that are being professionally exhibited or have contact with other animals or people.

How do Health Guard products help?

At Health Guard our 25 plus years of experience and positive results speak for themselves.  Our products are gentle to the user and safer for your pets. Health Guard is formulated as an antibacterial product, but is also active against fungal species of ringworm, along with the added residual to fight off the contagious spores.

Health Guard products are classified as antibacterial, not a fungicide or a quaternary ammonium compound, WHICH IS A GOOD THING. Fungicides or quaternary ammonium compounds can be hazardous to your health, your pet and the environment.

The species of ringworm secrete keratinolytic protease. This, along with the help of baccillus subtilis and mycobacterium streptomyces, will pollute the natural formation of keratin. Keratin, or keratinization, is necessary for healthy and natural hair growth. For these reasons Health Guard Products are designed to be active against ringworm and the process of protease infestation.

What about smelly coats, hot spots, skin allergies, flea bite dermatitis, bacterial skin infections and upper respiratory conditions?

In most cases smelly coats, hot spots and the like are caused by bacterial contamination. Our Antibacterial Shampoo and Medicated Spray may provide help in minutes. I would definitely try this before spending hundreds of dollars on diagnostic work and/or injections. Unpleasant smells are by-products of the proliferation of microorganisms. Rather than simply masking odors with perfumes, Heath Guard will work to control these problems at their source by preventing bacterial and fungal growth. Health Guard Products are highly active against exterior contamination and are extremely mild to the skin, versus internal medicine with possible side affects. Any non fungal/bacterial or internal complications require a professional Veterinarian.

Health Guard Products are highly active in preventing upper respiratory conditions due to the activity against Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria.  A lot of money and time is spent on these conditions so please CHECK OUT OUR ACTIVITY CHART.

WARNING:  Keep our of reach of children.  DO NOT mix with any other chemicals or compounds.  Alternating products from on week to another is fine, but again do not mix together.