Ringworm (Microsporum canis) is a contagious, parasitic fungal infection of the skin and hair follicles. It may infect a number of species, including dogs, cats, horses, cattle and humans. While any animal can become infected, it’s an opportunistic infection that often ravages an already diseased pet or those that are immuno-compromised.
Microsporum canis usually presents itself as a hairless circle which expands and spreads as it grows. The area often appears irritated. However, cats often show few signs of being a carrier and dogs may also carry the organism without outward signs of infection.
The first step in treating Ringworm is an evaluation by a veterinarian, preferably a holistic veterinarian. A holistic practitioner is often best suited because they are trained to evaluate, support and treat the whole animal. Since Ringworm is often a secondary infection or due to a systemic dysfunction, or a symptom of another issue, a holistic approach provides the best chance for a permanent remedy. Heavy infestations may require synthetic medication that can be used in combination with natural remedies. A visit to a veterinarian will also ensure that none of the below natural treatments will interact with medications, negatively impact existing conditions, etc.
Diet for the Prevention and Treatment of Ringworm
For both the prevention and treatment of Ringworm, a healthy, digestible diet supports a fully functional immune system that is equipped to fight infection. Many herbs can provide a boost to the immune system, including astragalus, dandelion leaf, echinacea, yellow dock, German chamomile, Oregon grape, gotu kola, goldenseal, and yellow dock.
For Ringworm infections, the holistic approach would also support the skin and its perpetual regeneration. A focus on antioxidants, minerals, proteins and EFA’s nurture the skin specifically. Seaweed is a vegetarian source of all these dietary necessities, and it brings anti-fungal properties with it. Freeze-dried Krill is packed with antioxidants and is especially suitable for the carnivorous cat or omnivorous pets. Herbs like gotu kola, burdock root, clover, nettle, alfalfa and horsetail may also support skin regeneration and structure.
Poultice Recipe for Topical Treatment of Ringworm
This poultice is a blend of anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory herbs mixed with Calcium Montmorillonite Clay (also proven to be anti-microbial). The mixture is safe for most species of pets, with the exception of cats and possibly rabbits. We recommend using only lavender and clay with cats and rabbits in the event that an inflamed infection site appears (as mentioned above, this doesn’t often happen in cats).
Note: It’s important to use only high quality herbs and essential oils for a full range of benefits. We rely on Starwest Botanicals for our herbal and essential oil remedies.
First, you’ll need to make a herbal tea. Mix the following dry or fresh herbs in a pot:
1 part lavender
1 part calendula flowers
1 part German chamomile
1 part thyme
1 part oregon grape
Enough water to cover
Bring just to a boil and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to stand until cool. Strain the water into a bowl.
Slowly mix the solution into an airtight container of Calcium Montmorillonite Clay (edible human grade) until it is a thick paste. How much clay and herbal tea you’ll use depends on how much paste you need, which in turn depends on how large your pet is and how extensive the infection is. You can add a couple of drops of myrrh and/or goldenseal essential oil to the mixture for an extra powerful poultice.
Notes of Caution: We recommend using gloves for application as this fungus can infect humans. Remove fur around the site of infection and gently clean the area. Apply the poultice about a quarter inch thick. Cover with gauze to prevent licking. Change the poultice every 24 hours, cleaning between applications, until the skin has healed.
This mixture will last for several weeks if it is stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. If it dries out too much, add purified water or more of the above herbal tea.
??? Have you ever had a pet with Ringworm? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Messonnier, Shawn DVM. Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats: Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements. 2001.
Tilford, Gregory. Wulff, Mary. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life. 2009.
Pitcairn, Richard H. Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. 2012.
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