Q: My new puppy has all this hair loss. I thought it was just from the fleas she had when we got her.
My vet is very suspicious of ringworm, so she did a test for ringworm. What should I do while we are waiting for the test?
I am worried because we also have a dog and two cats at home, too. L.S., Knoxville
A: The term, “ringworm,” is actually a misnomer, as a fungus, not a worm, causes the skin disease. Ringworm can absolutely cause hair loss, causing some pets to be itchy and could very well be the cause of your puppy’s problems.
Depending on your veterinarian’s degree of suspicion, she may elect to start your puppy on treatment for ringworm while the test is pending.
Treatment includes oral antifungal medication and/or medicated shampoos. Environmental decontamination, such as washing all bedding, frequent vacuuming and frequent changing of air filters, also could be started.
The test you are waiting for may take one to two weeks. Hairs from near and inside the affected lesions are plucked and placed in a special gel in an attempt to grow the fungus. The test is checked daily for growth.
If fungal colonies grow, they can then be identified microscopically.
Unfortunately, ringworm is contagious to other dogs and cats. If your new puppy has had limited exposure to your other pets, you may choose to keep the puppy separate until the test results are available.
Treatment, if any, for your other pets will depend on the puppy’s test results.Ringworm also is contagious to people. You may want to talk to your family physician if the ringworm test is positive and most certainly if you find any different skin lesions on yourself. If you have questions about your pets, you may e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org