We are well aware of the dangers of toxic mold, especially with regards to infants, seniors and persons with immune deficiencies. Unfortunately many people overlook the effect of black mold on our pets. Pets are especially susceptible to the harmful effects associated with mold because their noses often go where mold likes to grow.
Mold Allergy Symptoms in Dogs and Cats
Even pets that generally don’t have an allergy problem can become sick from spending too much time around mold or mildew. Dogs are more likely than cats to sniff out, lick, and even eat mold, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only pets who risk harm from mold exposure. Atopic Allergies occur when your pet inhales the specific allergen(s) responsible for their allergies. Symptoms may include:
- Itchy Skin
- Incessant Licking at Feet (Itchy Feet)
- hair loss
- crusty, scaly, or flaky skin lesions
- reddened skin with raised welts
- hyperpigmented (darkened) areas of skin
- Recurrent Ear Infections
- Reddened, itchy ears
- Increased wax or discharge from ears
- Odor associated with ears
- Asthma (common sign in cats)
- Rapid, Shallow Breathing
- Difficulty Breathing, Open Mouth Breathing, Blue Tongue/Gums
- Nasal Discharge/Excessive Tearing
- Hives or Welts
- Facial Swelling, Particularly around the eyes and muzzle
Diagnosis of Mold Allergies in Pets
Clinical signs, a consistent history, and response to therapy will allow our doctors to make the diagnosis of an allergic condition. Skin Scrapes may be used to rule out mites. Skin and ear cytologies may be used to diagnose secondary infections. After an allergic diagnosis is made, allergy testing can be performed if you would like to know which specific allergens are causing your pet’s problems.
Allergy testing is the only way to definitively determine which allergen(s) your pet is reacting to. There are a number of variables that determine when and how allergy testing is recommended. Skin allergy testing requires a referral to a veterinary dermatologist.
Pets Exposure to Mold Outdoors
Dogs and puppies spend a lot of time outdoors. Some cats also spend time outdoors, and any pet that’s outside has the chance to be exposed to mold. Mushrooms and other fungi growing in a yard should be removed, and mold or mildew growing on the side of a home, on a patio, or in a driveway should also be removed so that pets don’t come into contact with it. Vigilance is key to limiting your pet’s exposure to mold
Dogs, Cats and Exposure to Mold Indoors
Once it’s been determined that a mold allergy is what a pet has, it’s very important for the pet’s owner to take steps to reduce the level of mold and mildew the pet is exposed to. The humidity in the home is important, and a dehumidifier can be used to control humidity in a wet climate. That will help inhibit the growth of mold and mildew in the home.
Another way to lower the chance a pet will be exposed to mold inside a home is to clean food and water dishes frequently. These can get moldy very quickly, especially if a pet eats wet or moist food that’s not cleaned up at each meal. A water dish grows mold because a pet gets food crumbs and particles in it from eating and then drinking. These start to decompose, creating mold.
Treatment of Pet Allergies to Mold
It is important to get all secondary infections under control using proper antibiotics/antifungals and proper monitoring as recommended by your veterinarian. Many animals are more bothered by the secondary infection than by the primary allergy. The allergy can be treated using one or more of the medications below.
- Allergy Shots
- This requires allergy testing to determine which antigens to include.
- This class of medication decreases the body’s response to the allergen
- First line of treatment for hives or facial swelling.
- Benedryl (Diphenhydramine)
- Omega-3-Fatty Acids
- This supplement makes skin more supple and more resistant to inflamation
- Commercial Supplements Available
- Major Component of Fish Oil Capsules
- Buffered Aspirin
- DOGS ONLY!!! ALWAYS GIVE WITH FOOD!
- This can decrease the discomfort and inflammation of an allergic reaction
- Oatmeal Shampoo
- Soothes skin and decreases itchiness—Provides temporary relief
- Removes allergens from hair coat to decrease exposure time
- Be sure shampoo does not contain an detergents—these can remove the oils that naturally protect your pet’s skin from irritation.
- Topical steroid spray
- the animal equivalent to cortisone cream
- Steroids (injectable or oral)
- only used in moderate to severe cases due to side effects
- Decreases the body’s allergic response by suppressing inflammation.
- Long-acting, short-acting, and oral forms are available
- By prescription only
- Side effects include increased drinking, increased urination, increased appetite, weight gain, immune suppression (increased risk of certain infections), and increased risk of certain diseases.
- This class of drugs is used to treat asthmatic animals
- Available by prescription only