Looking after your pets | Paws Awhile

Contrary to the name, ringworm is actually a spore-forming fungi that affects the hair, nails and superficial layers of the skin. It has multiple hosts, including humans and there are several fungi responsible for ringworm infections. Cats and dogs are most commonly affected by Microsporum canis, which is easily transmitted to other cats, dogs and humans via direct contact. The time from infection to the development of clinical signs can be up to four weeks. 

Unfortunately patients can spread spores before clinical signs develop, which can make it difficult to control. Animals that are immunocompromised, or have damage to the skin or hair are more prone to being affected by ringworm. Common confounding factors include envronmental stress, age, immunosuppressive therapy or diseases, cancer, poor nutrition or life stresses to the body such as pregnancy or lactation.

Diagnosis of ringworm can be tricky and tests carried out may include inspecting the animal/human, examination under a UV light and fungal culture. Unfortunately there are multiple species of fungi that can cause ringworm, with some of the less common not fluorescing. Typically ring worm appears as a circular areas of hair loss (alopecia) and broken hairs. Lesions are often crusting, dry and ulcerative and may or may not be itchy. Treatment may include topical and/or oral anti-fungals. Disinfecting the environment which includes vacuuming, dusting (with disposable products) and disinfecting surfaces with chlorine bleach or other effective disinfectants is an important part of treatment. Seek veterinary and medical advice if you or your pet has a skin lesion you are unsure about.

AS PETS age, changes to the fibres in the lens of the eye can begin to cause a cloudy appearance in the eye. This is a normal aging process labelled by veterinarians as nuclear sclerosis. It usually occurs slowly and affects both of your pet’s eyes. Nuclear sclerosis can be easily confused with the more sinister formation of cataracts. Unlike nuclear sclerosis, cataracts are not formed via aging but result from an interruption to the fibres within the lens.

This is often a result of an underlying pathological process such as diabetes, trauma, inflammation, toxins or age-related disease. Cataracts may affect one or both eyes and may suddenly develop.  Mild cataracts, which may also be called immature or incipient cataracts, may not affect vision. 

More severe, mature or hyper-mature cataracts may cause partial or complete blindness and cause inflammation within the eye. Surgical removal and replacement of the diseased lens can be performed to cure cataracts.