Like their human owners, some of our furry friends can develop allergies. Anyone with allergies knows that they are a pain to live with, especially when they decide to flare up.
Allergens can affect several biological systems, disrupting the immune system. It's for this reason that some medical experts believe allergic responses are a form of auto-immune disorder. Treatment for allergic responses involves a range of therapies designed to suppress the immune system's response to the invading allergen.
Most allergies are just minor inconveniences, like sneezing caused by hay fever. However, some allergic reactions, like an asthma attack or anaphylaxis, can create life-threatening conditions in the affected individual.
The allergens responsible for causing the reaction can have anything from a mild to devastating effect on the physiology of a person or pet. This post looks specifically at mold and its impact on your dog's health.
Our pets experience allergies just like us. They have exposure to environmental toxins and allergens that cause allergic responses.
There are several categories of pet allergies, including acute, skin, food, and inhalant allergies.
Let's unpack the characteristics of each.
These allergens cause an acute, immediate response in the dog. Typically, it's a reaction to a single event like a bee sting, flea bite, or vaccine administration. These allergic reactions often require emergency medical assistance, and they carry the highest risk of resulting in death in the animal.
These acute events often initially present as skin rashes or inflammation and swelling. Typically, the animal will start complaining to you, and you'll need to spot that they are dealing with discomfort if there's no immediate reason for their behavior.
Skin allergies may present as symptoms from inhalant and acute allergies or as independent issues. For example, dogs may develop skin rashes or eczema from rolling on the grass. Skin allergies may also occur alongside inhalant allergies.
Your dog might develop inflamed, red skin, especially if they are a short-haired variety.
Another cause of allergic reactions in dogs' skin includes the use of detergents when washing out their blankets or bedding. Most dogs get over the discomfort in a few days without the need for medical treatment.
Some dogs might develop allergic responses to food. Food can cause all sorts of problems in dogs and cats. Since the dog's digestive system initially evolved to meat, and now they eat grain or cereal-based diets, some breeds find they need specialized diets, or they experience the onset of food allergies.
Food allergies can affect the skin and the digestive system the most, causing inflammation, diarrhea, and discomfort in the animal.
The final category of pet allergens is inhalant allergens. These are allergens the animal breathes in, causing an allergic response in the body. An example would be inhaling pollen, causing the dog to sneeze.
However, some allergens are dangerous to the health of the pet. If your dog breathes in specific species of mold, it could end up causing an allergic response, and without diagnosis or treatment, the animal could end up sick and perhaps perish.
Mold creates spores which it releases into the air. If humans or animals breathe in these spores, it causes an inhalant allergic response to the mold. Some people and pets have different levels of sensitivity to mold spores. Some might have an immediate severe response, while others have a mild reaction they barely notice.
However, continued exposure to mold pathogens almost always results in some form of allergic response or severe respiratory illness. Mold occurs naturally, and it's present in indoor and outdoor locations. It readily multiplies when it discovers dark, humid areas where it can spread and thrive.
It's common for mold to develop in dark, humid basements and garages in coastal regions. Mold could also invade your dog's kennel, moving into the doghouse causing respiratory issues with your pet. Typically, dogs that have sensitivity to environmental allergens like pollen will have a harder time dealing with the effects of breathing in mold spores.
For humans, respiratory issues are the most common sign of infection with mold spores. However, with dogs, an allergic reaction develops in the skin. Some of the more common symptoms of mold allergies in dogs include the following.
Excessive scratching and itching (Pruritus).
Minor to severe hair loss.
Shaking the head and ears.
Severe ear infection.
Chewing their paws.
Scaliness and redness to the skin.
Thickened skin and a pungent odor.
Secondary diseases in the skin.
The development of hot spots.
Some dog breeds are predisposed to having problems with allergies. Some of the breeds include the following.
Terriers (West Highland, Skye, Scottish, and Boston).
Several species of mold can cause allergic responses in dogs. Some have a more aggressive interaction with your pet than others, causing varying levels of infection in your dog. Mold occurs in naturally decaying vegetation, soil, grass, and many other natural substrates. Some of the more common species of mold include the following.
Alternaria – Occurs in the fall and springtime.
Phoma – Occurs after the autumn rains.
Spondylocladium – Lives in air ducts and plants.
Helminthosporium – Lives in soils during the summertime.
Hormodendrum – Found in rotting leaves.
Penicillium – Found in storage items and vegetation.
Aspergillus – Occurs in basements and vegetation.
Fusarium – Infects plants and cereal crops.
If your dog has a mold allergy, it probably has allergies against other inhalant allergens like pollen and dust mites. When diagnosing your pooch, the vet will take the animal's medical history to ascertain if it has a problem with skin allergens.
The vet examines the dog's skin and ears, and they'll ask you about the type of food you're feeding the animal. Since mold intoxication often shows up as a skin issue, the vet must isolate all the skin allergens before assuming the issue must occur through mold exposure.
The vet can conduct all the required exams and skin scrapings required at their office, sending them to the lab for analysis. Dogs with severe skin inflammation may require sedation during the examination.
If the lab tests come back positive for mold infestation, the vet arranges treatment for the problem. Some of the treatments involved with helping your dog recover from mold allergies include the following.
Bathing your furry friend with a hypoallergenic pet shampoo may help to soothe the feelings of itching experienced by the dog. Remember to clean them in tepid water as warm water feels sore on the skin.
The use of medications like antihistamines and corticosteroids may be necessary to stop the skin inflammation and irritation experienced by your pet. If the dog is dealing with a severe infection, it may require anti-fungal drugs to help them eliminate the infection.
With time and the right treatments, your pet will recover from the mold infection and allergic response caused by the pathogen. Each animal is different, and they differ in their reaction. Some have an intense response to mold, while others have a mild reaction.
Avoid letting the animal go into areas of the home where you think there might be a chance of mold being present. Keep them out of places like under the deck and the basement. Make sure you inspect their living quarters for signs of mold growing in the roof or the corners where you can't see.
If you can't find the source of the mold, check the air quality in your home by arranging a professional service to inspect the air. They'll uncover the problem and advise you on the removal process.
If you suspect there's a mold infestation in your home or your dog's living quarters, call the professionals. MI&T Mold Inspection offers you a residential mold inspection service you can trust. We'll inspect the areas inside your home and your dog's living quarters for mold.
Unfortunately, mold is a sneaky pathogen. It can hide out of sight, releasing spores into the air. If your dog sleeps in a shed or a garage, it might have exposure to mold that you never see or get toxic levels of exposure to yourself.
At MI&T, we have the technology and expertise to sniff out any mold in the air. We can give you information on the removal process. However, we are not a mold removal service, nor do we recommend third-party mold removal companies. We offer you an independent assessment of the air quality in your home.
If there is any mold source causing illness in your family or furry friends, MI&T will find it.