Pets

Pet answers: through the wormhole

Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions

My cat has just been diagnosed with ringworm but the vet said it wasn’t a worm? I’m confused! He also said this is something I can catch?
Your vet is right, this isn’t a worm at all but rather a fungal infection that we see in cats, dogs, rabbits and even in larger animals like cows and horses. It’s very treatable and doesn’t usually have any lasting effects once it’s gone. In cats and dogs, ringworm usually looks like round bald patches that can appear a bit scurfy. We suspect that in domestic pets, it’s probably caught from hedgehogs or rodents that visit the garden. Once your pet has been diagnosed, your vet will usually start them on a treatment protocol with a tablet or syrup that can last up to six weeks. Once the treatment has finished, they will probably take a hair sample to check that the ringworm has gone. Hopefully, that will be the end of it although some cases do need longer courses of treatment. While your pet is undergoing treatment, I would recommend restricting him or her to a single easily cleaned room.

All beds, brushes, blankets, etc that the cat has had contact with should be assumed as contaminated so either dispose of them or disinfect them using a veterinary recommended chemical disinfectant. If you have to handle your cat, I’d advise wearing disposable gloves and an apron so that the infected hairs cannot be transferred to you or your clothing. Give everywhere in the house a good vacuum and spring clean to get rid of any infected hairs that may still be lying about. Unfortunately, this condition can spread to people so it’s worth checking yourself and everyone in the household for signs of ringworm. In people, this usually looks like rounded red patches on the skin. If you have any suspicion at all that you may have caught it, then I’d recommend visiting your local doctor to get checked out. Your vet is right, this isn’t a worm at all but rather a fungal infection that we see in cats, dogs, rabbits and even in larger animals like cows and horses. It’s very treatable and doesn’t usually have any lasting effects once it’s gone. In cats and dogs, ringworm usually looks like round bald patches that can appear a bit scurfy. We suspect that in domestic pets, it’s probably caught from hedgehogs or rodents that visit the garden.

Once your pet has been diagnosed, your vet will usually start them on a treatment protocol with a tablet or syrup that can last up to six weeks. Once the treatment has finished, they will probably take a hair sample to check that the ringworm has gone. Hopefully, that will be the end of it although some cases do need longer courses of treatment. While your pet is undergoing treatment, I would recommend restricting him or her to a single easily cleaned room. All beds, brushes, blankets, etc that the cat has had contact with should be assumed as contaminated so either dispose of them or disinfect them using a veterinary recommended chemical disinfectant. If you have to handle your cat, I’d advise wearing disposable gloves and an apron so that the infected hairs cannot be transferred to you or your clothing. Give everywhere in the house a good vacuum and spring clean to get rid of any infected hairs that may still be lying about. Unfortunately, this condition can spread to people so it’s worth checking yourself and everyone in the household for signs of ringworm. In people, this usually looks like rounded red patches on the skin. If you have any suspicion at all that you may have caught it, then I’d recommend visiting your local doctor to get checked out.

I’ve taken on two rats in the past week and they have started sneezing. They are acting normally otherwise. Should I be concerned?
Rats are particularly prone to developing respiratory (breathing) problems so it would be worth visiting your vet to get them checked out. The most common cause of coughs and colds in rats is a type of bacteria called Mycoplasma. Unfortunately it’s quite difficult to get rid of completely, even with antibiotics, and often flares up again at times of change or stress. The move from their previous environment to a different one may have meant this has flared up in your rats. I’d always recommend getting them checked out to see what might be causing the sneezing and sometimes your vet will prescribe a course of antibiotics and antiinflammatories. Hopefully, it’s just a mild flare up and your rats will soon settle into their new home!

I think my dog has an ear infection. He’s shaking his head and whining when I go to touch it. Can I use anything at home to clean it?
Poor chap! Ear infections can be very uncomfortable. I’d always recommend visiting your vet if you are concerned about an ear infection. Sometimes these can be easily fixed by removing something that has gone into the ear, such as a grass seed. The vet will also need to look down his ear to check that the ear drum is intact. In severe cases, the ear drum can burst and this would mean any drops going into the middle ear which can be very painful and damage some of the nerves in this area. Once he has been checked out, the vet can prescribe some medication to address the infection and get him back to his normal self!

Do you have a pet or animal health question? Send it to us at: . Holly will endeavour to answer all questions, whether published or not!

Dr Holly Norman BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS veterinary surgeon and Joint Venture Partner at: Peterborough Vets4Pets 231-233 St Paul’s Road Peterborough PE1 3RL Tel: 01733 890777 & Bretton Vets4Pets Inside Pets at Home Unit 2 The Bretton Centre Peterborough PE3 8DN Tel: 01733 261094   

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