We treat them like our family members and even call them our babies. Americans spend billions of dollars on pet care including the best foods, special beds, treats, and toys. Some spend more in medical care for their pets than they do for themselves. We all want the very best for our pets and think we are doing everything to keep them happy and healthy. It is unfortunate, but many people may be overlooking one additional potential area of danger to their pets’ health. Mold can be just as dangerous to your pet as it can for the humans in your household if not more so.
Danger from Many Sources
- Pets may be more likely to breathe in a high concentration of mold spores because they spend so much time sniffing the ground and the grass outside.
- Because they sleep on the ground, any toxins can easily be picked up by their fur. They will then lick themselves for routine cleaning and ingest some of these toxins.
- Some pets will chew on wood, drywall, carpet, or other surfaces even if they are contaminated by mold.
The Signs of Possible Mold Exposure
If your pet is acting funny or in a troubling way and you have ruled out the usual causes of behaviors, then it may be time to take your pet to the vet. Here are warning signs that your pet may need to be evaluated for mold exposure:
- If your pet is constantly scratching, but does not have fleas or noticeable dry skin.
- If he is licking or chewing at his feet or paws, especially at the bottom parts.
- If he has sores or rashes.
- If he has runny eyes.
- If he has itchy ears.
More serious symptoms to watch for (and require immediate veterinary care) include:
- Extreme lethargy especially in a young dog or cat.
- Obviously labored breathing.
- Other breathing problems such as wheezing or coughing.
- Bleeding from the nose.
- A disruption in the regular eating habits. If your usually voracious eater is suddenly refusing food or worse, is vomiting, it is time for immediate veterinary care.
These are all possible symptoms of mold exposure. If you are also feeling unwell, especially if you have a respiratory problem, chronic sinus infections, or frequent headaches, it might be time to get the pet to the vet and have a home inspection to see if you have mold.
If the Vet Confirms Possible Mold
When you take your pet in, you will need to describe the symptoms, and when they started, in as much detail as possible. If it happens to be a result of mold exposure, the vet will prescribe treatment for your pet and in the meantime, it will be important to do everything you can to keep the animal from getting sicker.
- If your pet is very ill, he may need to stay overnight in the veterinary clinic for observation and IV fluids. This is the perfect time to handle mold removal and clean up.
- Find the source of the mold. The most likely places are wherever there is moisture, darkness, and warmth, although there are several varieties that can handle different conditions. The two types of mold that can grow in cooler conditions are cladsporium and fusarium. Both have some of the similar allergens as other molds though, and can cause problems for pets and humans alike.
- Once you find the mold, determine how much there is and how deeply it goes. If the mold is in a mostly contained area or seems to be purely surface mold, you can clean it up yourself using a good quality mold killer and then rinsing well. You should also vacuum in the affected area to get as many of the mold spores as possible.
- If the mold is extensive, you may need to hire a professional. You may also need to have a professional come in and test your home, because even if you do not see any more mold it might be in the air. That will affect your pets and others who might be sensitive to the spores. Some molds will spread quickly, so if you have found it in one area it might already be growing in another spot. It can easily turn into a never-ending cycle of mold cleaning. Hiring a professional is a good way to ensure that the mold is removed effectively and safely.
Before Your Pet Returns to the Home:
- Be sure that all signs of the mold have been removed and the causes of the mold eliminated.
- Wash and thoroughly dry all pet bedding including wiping down the metal parts of his or her crate. Wash and dry all food dishes and make sure that the area the food and water bowls are kept is dry and free from mold as well.
- Be sure that the area where dry dog food is kept is free from mold. Some mold spores can be present on the food without changing its smell or appearance at all.
- Continue to monitor your pet so that you know that he or she is healthy and happy and that the problem has not come back.
- Recheck known mold hotspots frequently so that the problem does not return.