Ringworm is actually no different than athlete’s foot, a less than serious, but no doubt uncomfortable, fungus. Ringworm is a very common fungus that can live on people, on surfaces, in soil, and animals.
Yet, cats and dogs are losing their lives because they have ringworm. Thankfully, this is beginning to change. Fewer and fewer shelters and rescues are euthanizing animals with ringworm, but many still insist on housing these pets in the shelter, away from the public, until they are symptom free.
Ringworm should never be reason for euthanizing pets, but it should also not hold shelters or rescues back from sending pets to foster or adoptive homes.
Here are 5 reasons you should start sending these pets to foster and adoptive homes.
- Stress slows healing. Shelters and kennel environments are stressful for most animals and research shows us that stress slows healing and recovery in people and pets. Treatment of a ringworm cat is typically three weeks to three months, but cats tend to recover faster in the kind of loving, low-stress environment that only a home can provide!
- Treatment can be easily taught. Treatment might involve a daily oral medication and a twice a week lime dipping to help kill and control the spores. These are skills you can teach your foster caregivers or adopters. Some shelters even offer drop-in lime dip days: Fosters can drop their pets off and pick them up after the dip is over. Treatment for ringworm is generally very effective, though it’s hard to know exactly when the dog or cat has been “cured” — a good indication is hair regrowth. Use our ringworm treatment guide to create your own resources.
- Ringworm isn’t lethal or dangerous. Ringworm is totally curable, non-lethal, and not nearly as scary as it sounds. With proper training and information, it’s easy enough to prevent the spread of ringworm in foster and adoptive homes between other pets and people.
- Washing machine agitation rids laundry of ringworm spores. Our advice? Use the longest time setting on your washing machine and do not overload it when disinfecting soft fabrics and pet beds. According to a recent study by Karen Moriello, water temperature and bleach plays no part in ringworm disinfection, but it won't hurt. Encourage your fosters and adopters to keep their ringworm cats or dogs somewhere easy to clean, like a bathroom, and washing any beds, towels, or blankets on which the pet lays, toys he plays with, and equipment he uses, should be washed and agitated in the machine for the longest period of time possible. Depending on the location of your pet’s ringworm, a t-shirt might help prevent the ringworm from coming into contact with skin or surfaces.
- The public will take these pets home. Tell the public that pets with ringworm are routinely euthanized in other shelters and their choosing to foster and/or adopt saves lives! Get creative, in Pima Animal Care Center they opened what they are calling the fungal jungle to house cats with ringworm while they wait for adopters.
If you are interested in learning more about how to create a lifesaving ringworm program in your shelter or rescue attend a Maddie’s Lifesaving Academy Practical Ringworm Apprenticeship or The American Pets Alive! Conference 2020.