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. Pet mold allergy is more common than you may think.
Pet Mold Allergy Symptoms (in Dogs and Cats)
Even pets that generally don’t have an allergy problem can become sick from exposure to 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. Pet mold allergy symptoms may include: skin infections, itchy feet, constantly licking the feet. There may be hair loss and skin lesions or welts. Wheezing and coughing is an indicator. Ear infections can be another form of secondary infection. Watch out for swelling in the face, especially around the nose and eyes. A nasal discharge could also indicate an allergic reaction to mold exposure.
Diagnosis of Pet Mold Allergy
Allergy testing can offer definitive answers as to what allergens your pet is troubled by. A veterinary dermatologist may do skin tests. Your vet may recognize some common mold infections and conduct skin scrapes or biopsies for cultures or microscopic diagnosis.
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 Mold Allergy
Anti-fungals and antibiotics are used to bring secondary infections under control. Often these secondary infections are more difficult than the primary infection. Mold infections tend to compromise the immune system so a host of symptoms can present. Here are some of the medication categories that may be employed:
- Allergy Shots
- Antihistamines (Benedryl or Chlorepheniramine)
- Omega-3-Fatty Acids (fish oil or commercial supplements)
- Buffered Aspirin
- Oatmeal or Medicated Shampoo
- Topical steroid spray
- Steroids (injectable or oral)