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Can Mold Make Pets Sick?

If you've read the Pure Air North Carolina blog before, you know that mold loves warm, dark, wet spaces. These conditions are created by flooding, leaks, and condensation, not to mention water or food splashing or puddles being left on home surfaces.

Humans can be affected by mold within the home, especially when it is in an area where it has the freedom to grow completely out of control, like the air vents, underneath carpet, or within the walls.

Mold is just as dangerous for pets as it is for your family, if not more so.

Unlike humans, pets they tend to be confined to certain areas of your home, so they are more likely to be affected by mold if it is in the garage, utility room or bathroom where they likely spend a good bit of time – like when the family is away.

Also, pets can’t alert us when they see or smell something suspicious. We notice when our homes smell musty, and we can certainly see black or green spots starting to develop and grow, but our four-legged friends can’t help us out with either of these obvious clues.

How Mold Can Be Harmful to Pets

Mold spores are present everywhere in the air, so it’s bound to occur in your home – regardless of how often or how well you clean.

Black mold is one of the most common types found in homes. Unfortunately, this and other types of mold can make humans and animals alike very sick.

You can easily recognize the optimal conditions for mold, along with its infamous appearance. And while your dog may be man’s best friend, he can’t tell you when he sees or smells mold.

The same symptoms people experience after exposure to mold can be seen in pets. The general symptoms of mold allergies are similar to pollen allergies or a cold.

  • Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes

  • Wheezing, shortness of breath

  • Nose bleeds, blood in sputum

  • Reduced appetite

As humans, we attribute these issues to allergies, pollen, stress, and all sorts of other causes. And generally, we’ll feel better in a day or two and forget about it. But if your pet experiences any of these symptoms, there’s definitely a reason, and you owe it to your furry best friend to find out what it is!

Pets can’t tell you they are itchy or don’t feel well, so have to be observant to notice other signs of mold allergies. In animals, you may also see the following:

  • Scratching, chewing, or licking their hair, skin, or feet

  • Lethargy

  • Vomiting, other gastrointestinal issues

These vague symptoms could be due to many other causes, so it’s very important to stay on top of your pet’s health in order to rule out any other causes.

Animals can breathe mold in, just like humans can, which results in the symptoms above. However, they can also ingest it. Pet food, leftovers, and garbage can all develop mold quickly, and pets aren’t picky about what they eat. Expired food is poison to pets, so you may also see these serious side effects:

  • Tremors or muscle spasms

  • Neurological problems, including uncharacteristic behaviors or poor function

Mold can even live on your pet’s skin and fur. This unusual circumstance occurs when pets do not get completely dry after a bath or time outside. Mold spores land on animals, and there they find moisture, warmth, and a food supply of pet dander and fur.

Mold on the skin and hair can cause its own set of problems, along with those mentioned above:

  • Hair loss

  • Skin deterioration

  • Sores

Mold poisoning, just like any other type of poisoning, is lethal for humans and animals because animals have a less developed immune systems. As soon as these symptoms arise, schedule a trip to the vet to have your pet seen about.

What to Do if You Suspect Mold is Affecting Your Pet

If mold is affecting your pet, it’s very likely that it is taking a toll on your family’s well-being as well. You need to act quickly to reduce the effects of mold.

These are the most immediate steps to take:

  • Take your pet to the vet if you suspect mold poisoning. When scheduling the appointment, tell your vet mold exposure could be the problem. Your vet can confirm this and recommend a treatment plan to help your pet feel better. Prescribed antihistamines and corticosteroids will relieve inflammation to help with breathing issues, while topical creams soothe itchy, red skin.

  • Have your home tested for mold. After the vet confirms that your pet has been exposed to mold, you need to have your home checked out by a professional to see where the highest concentration is. Your mold pro can determine the type of mold and explain the best way to proceed.

  • Schedule professional mold removal ASAP. Obviously, the next step is to get rid of the mold for good. The amount of mold that can make humans and animals sick is significant. A mold specialist will be able to locate it and remove it safely. Don’t attempt to remove large amounts of mold yourself. It’s extremely toxic and easy to spread!

  • Be proactive in the future. There are home remedies using apple cider vinegar and other household products which can be mixed and sprayed as a topical treatment for your pet. Thoroughly clean areas where mold is known to grow, like showers, toilets, kitchen and bathroom and kitchen sinks. And have professional mold testing done every year (or any time you suspect mold growth) to keep your family and pets safe!

The good news is that mold allergy symptoms go away with proper treatment and after the mold has been removed. However, a mold allergy itself will probably never go away.

Therefore, if your pet develops symptoms once, you will likely see them again if the pet is exposed to similar conditions.

Keep your home’s humidity low and be vigilant about cleanup after flooding or leaks is the best way to prevent future mold outbreaks – and the resulting allergies – for your family and pets.

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