The effect of mold exposure in humans is well-researched and well-known across the general public and strong motivation for routine mold testing. Unfortunately, most people don’t connect the dots between mold exposure and pet sickness. Animals are often at the same risk of mold poisoning as humans, but their symptoms often go unnoticed.
Pets can’t tell us when they aren’t feeling well, so we have to observe their behavior to see if they are feeling under the weather. A dog that changes behavior or eating habits, for example, may indicate that it is sick, and mold growth in your home may be the cause.
The Danger of Mold for Dogs
Surprisingly, dogs do not have a strong immune system. They are susceptible to allergies and other respiratory diseases. All dogs, especially those with short snouts, are very likely to have a reaction to mold.
Mold can be found in your home, where your family and dog spend the majority of your time, or it can develop in the dog’s kennel, bed, or doghouse. Just like with humans, a pet that spends too much time in a mold-infested area can develop serious, chronic health problems.
Dogs react to mold based on how they are exposed to it. These are the 3 reasons your dog can have a reaction to mold:
- A pre-existing mold allergy
- Ingesting mold
- Inhaling mold
Fortunately, you can protect your pet from most mold exposure. Below, we’ll break down each of these scenarios and tell you what symptoms to look for in each case. We will also make some recommendations for preventing different types of mold exposure.
Symptoms of Mold Allergies in Dogs
There’s nothing you can do to prevent your dog from developing allergies. Just as we humans have to manage the symptoms of our allergies and avoid known allergens, so is the case with your dog. Knowing that you have a pet will a specific allergy can help you treat them ahead of time so they don’t continuously suffer.
A dog with mold allergies may show these symptoms:
- Dry, flaky skin
- Red, inflamed skin
- Incessant scratching
- Licking and biting
- Hair loss
A mold allergy will become obvious if your dog stays inside a home that has mold. It’s tricky diagnosing a mold allergy because a dog with mold allergies will react with any or all of the symptoms above if they ingest mold or breathe in mold spores.
One difference between seasonal allergies and a mold allergy is that your dog will probably experience allergy symptoms year round.
Symptoms of Ingesting Mold in Dogs
Dogs chew on things they’re not supposed to all the time, and a lot of those things can make them sick. Dogs getting into trash or eating from a compost pile are just two ways your dog may ingest mold.
In some cases, dog food can get moldy in the bag. Moist dog foods and those made with grain are more likely to develop mold. Switching to a drier, grain-free food can reduce the risk of this happening.
If your dog experiences the following symptoms, he or she may have eaten something moldy:
- Loose stool
- Decreased appetite
To further prevent your dog from ingesting mold, you should put leftovers and trash in a secure trash can that your dog does not have access to. Also, keep an eye on them when you are outside. You never know when other people’s trash could end up in your yard.
Symptoms of Inhaling Mold in Dogs
All of us – people and pets – breathe in some amount of mold every day. It is present in the air, both outside and inside. And, for the most part, we are accustomed to it and do not have a reaction.
However, when we are exposed to high levels of mold, it can affect any of us – including pets – with the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath, panting
- Excessive sneezing or coughing
- Lethargy or other behavior changes
Our homes are warm, comfortable places for us and our pets, but this also means they are sealed well ad hold mold spores in exceptionally well. If your home has a ventilation problem, the mold levels inside could be exponentially higher than the accepted normal levels.
The bathroom, basement, and attic are common places for household mold. If your dog spends a lot of time in any of these rooms (like when you are gone), they are at an even higher risk of mold exposure.
To determine if the mold levels inside your home are safe, you can purchase a DIY mold testing kit from most hardware stores. You can also purchase a hygrometer for you home to monitor humidity. Keeping the humidity within your home between 30-50% will reduce the risk of mold and improve air quality for everyone in your home.
How to Treat Mold Poisoning in Dogs
It’s virtually impossible for pet owners to tell if their dog is experiencing a mold reaction or suffering from an allergy. If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms above, see the vet as soon as possible to get him on the road to recovery.
If your dog has a mold allergy, your vet may prescribe an allergy medicine that the dog takes consistently in order to reduce the number and minimize the severity of allergic reactions.
Otherwise, if your dog has ingested or breathed mold but does not show signs of an allergy, the vet will focus on management of symptoms or prescribe something to make your dog more comfortable until the reaction is under control.
To prevent mold in common places, replace your dog’s bed with a water-resistant dog bed, and always check their food and water. Clean their bowls often.
Signs of mold poisoning in your dog indicate a mold problem in your home. Even if you relieve their symptoms, you and your pet will still be exposed to mold unless it is removed.
Have your home inspected and treated by Pure Maintenance of the Blue Ridge for mold as soon as possible to avoid further sickness in family members, including the 4-legged ones.