Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that can affect a wide variety of animals, including dogs, cats, and humans. Your pet chinchilla can also contract this infection. Here are four things chinchilla owners need to know about ringworm.
What are the signs of ringworm?
If your chinchilla gets ringworm, you'll see scaly, hairless lesions on their body. Typically, these lesions develop on the nose, ears, or feet, but they can develop anywhere. The lesions are either irregular or circular and have reddened edges.
How do chinchillas get ringworm?
Ringworm is caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes, a type of fungus. This fungus is also responsible for athlete's foot in humans, so if anyone in your household has either of these diseases, they may have inadvertently given the fungus to your pet. This can happen when an infected person handles an uninfected chinchilla without washing their hands or wearing gloves. The fungi can also cling to clothing.
Chinchillas can also acquire this fungus through direct contact with other chinchillas or through contact with infected items, like second-hand cages and toys.
How is ringworm in chinchillas treated?
Ringworm needs to be treated right away to keep it from spreading. Your vet will prescribe antifungal medications for this purpose. These medications may be given orally or topically, depending on the extent of the lesions. If your pet has a widespread infection, they'll need an oral treatment, but if their lesions are isolated, topical applications can be used.
One ringworm treatment is unique to chinchillas. Since chinchillas need to have regular dust baths to keep themselves clean, antifungal powders can be mixed into the dust. When your chinchilla performs their regular grooming routine, they'll receive their medication. As an added benefit, this treatment can help prevent the spread of the fungi to their cage mates.
How can you prevent a recurrence?
Once your chinchilla has been successfully treated, you'll need to remove the fungi from their environment to keep them from getting re-infected. To do this, clean their cage with a fungicidal disinfectant. A solution of one part bleach to 10-parts water is suitable for this purpose, just make sure to rinse it afterwards to get rid of the bleach residue. Any wood parts of your pet's habitat, like houses, shelves, or toys, can be disinfected by soaking them in the bleach solution. After soaking, rinse the items and let them air dry.
If your chinchilla has crusty, red-ringed lesions on their skin, they may have ringworm and need to see an emergency vet right away. Look for care in your area as soon as possible.