Caring for your Ringworm Foster
Fostering a dog or cat that has been diagnosed with ringworm can be a very rewarding experience. Treatment of a ringworm animal is normally around 6 – 8 weeks in a shelter, but can be halved if the animal is treated in a loving, low-stress home!
Ringworm Frequently Asked Questions
What is ringworm (Dermatophytosis)?
Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus (and not a worm!). It is similar to athlete’s foot, and lives everywhere, including on animals, people, and in the soil. You have probably come in contact with it in your day to day life multiple times and not ever known it. It is very hardy and lives a long time, years even, in most environments.
It is contagious to people; the young, old, and immune-compromised are more likely to get it. Ringworm is also very contagious to other animals.
Am I going to get ringworm if I foster a ringworm animal?
It’s possible, but it’s doubtful. Typically, healthy people don’t catch ringworm, and if you are good about washing/disinfecting your hands and changing clothes after handling ringworm pets then you should be fine.
Some people may be at greater risk of contracting the fungus than others. This puts young animals and children, elderly people and pets, those who are HIV+, people on chemotherapy or taking medication after transfusion or organ transplant, and highly stressed people and animals at high risk.
What if I get ringworm?
Ringworm in humans is very treatable. We recommend that you see a physician if you find any skin abnormalities. The fungus typically looks like a red crusty little spot, which can sometimes be itchy. If you’ve ever had athlete’s foot or jock itch, then you’ve already had a skin fungus like ringworm.
Tip: Tea tree oil has natural antifungal properties. It’s safe for humans, but not for animals. Using a soap or bodywash that contains tea tree oil can help keep you fungus-free!
What about my other animals?
We highly recommend that animals with ringworm go into homes with no other pets to minimize transmission risks. Keeping your foster pet isolated in spaces that are easy to clean and can be bleached thoroughly is a good idea, until they have been cleared of ringworm. Good hygiene is also a must! Washing your hands and changing clothes before visiting with other pets will definitely help reduce any kind of transmission of ringworm. Remember, your shoes can also be a carrier of the spores as well!
What treatment will my foster pet need?
Your foster pet will continue to take a once daily oral medication in conjunction with Lime Sulfur dipping. Instructions for dipping are included in your foster packet, and we are always available for advice and support. We will supply you with everything you will need to help get your foster animal healthy!
You can also come to the PAWS Chicago Medical Center for lime sulfur dips! Since it’s a sulfur solution, it’s a little stinky. That’s why we’re happy to do it at our facility on Tuesdays and Fridays!
What about it getting in my house?
That’s a great question! If you put your new foster animal in a bathroom or other confined tile space clean up is super easy! Ringworm is killed by diluted bleach, a 10:1 ratio water/bleach solution works well. Using a spray bottle, available at Home Depot, to apply the solution is very simple. Allow the solution to sit for 10-15 minutes for best results. Sanitize anything they have come into contact with before allowing other animals to touch. All bedding should be washed with bleach weekly. Please see below for more detailed cleaning instructions.
Once your animal is clear of ringworm, it is recommended to dip once more to kill any spores and give the room a final cleaning with the 10:1 bleach solution. After this, your foster animal is free to roam your home and be in contact with your other pets and people.
Remember! By fostering this animal you are truly saving a life! While animals with ringworm are routinely euthanized at shelters around the country PAWS Chicago believes that these animals deserve to be alive just as much as an animal without ringworm. It is a very treatable and temporary issue that, with a little TLC, will leave you feeling thankful you made the right decision!
Cleaning Protocols Following Illness
Thoroughly cleaning after having a sick animal in your home is extremely important in ensuring the health of future foster pets. Ideally, fosters are kept in an area that can be easily disinfected, such as a bathroom. The most effective disinfectant is a fresh dilution of bleach at the following ratio: ¼ cup chlorine bleach and 2 ¼ cups warm water. The protocol for properly cleaning an area contaminated by a sick foster pet is as follows:
Wash/remove all visible debris (feces, vomit, etc.) from objects.
Spray or wipe surfaces with the diluted bleach solution. Protect the solution from light and use only on objects not damaged by bleach. All items much be cleaned and disinfected (litter boxes, toys, bowls, brushes, etc. If an item cannot be cleaned with bleach, it must be disposed of.
Allow bleach solution to sit for 10 minutes before rinsing surface then repeat.
Allow the area to dry completely before allowing animals to return.
Rugs and carpets should be professionally steam cleaned if possible. If the rug is small enough, wash it in hot water.
All bedding, clothing, and other fabrics that have come in contact with the infected animal should be washed in hot water and put through the dryer on a hot setting.
Do not use concentrate bleach or bleach straight from the bottle as this can irritate your eyes, nose, and skin and is not more effective than the diluted bleach.