What are Mold Allergies?
Mold forms spores which then become airborne, causing an allergic reaction in both humans and animals who are sensitive to it. Mold is present everywhere, both indoors and out, and easily multiples in damp humid areas like basements. Mold is prevalent seasonally outdoors in piles of wet leaves and in decaying plant material. Mold does grow outside all year round but dampness and humidity allow for more rapid growth. Inside, homeowners often work constantly to deter mold from spreading in areas such as the shower and window ledges.
Canines who inhale mold spores typically suffer from very itchy skin as the first sign of irritation. Sufferers of an inhalant type of allergy will usually show signs of the sensitivity under the age of three, though dogs of any age can develop an allergy. Breeds that are thought to be sensitive to non-food allergens like pollen and grasses are many; the sex of the dog has no bearing. If your pet is showing symptoms of an allergy, schedule a veterinary visit in order to find the cause and provide relief from the signs.
One of the most common inhalant allergens for canines is mold. Pets who suffer from this type of condition often will have more than one inhalant allergy, meaning they are susceptible to the effects of other airborne allergens such as pollen and dust mites.
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Symptoms of Mold Allergies in Dogs
Humans who have an allergy to mold will often have respiratory symptoms. In dogs, signs manifest in the skin.
- Pruritus (excessive itching and scratching)
- Hair loss
- Shaking of the head and ears
- Chronic ear infections
- Chewing of the paws
- Redness and scaliness of the skin
- Thickened and odorous skin
- Hot spots
- Secondary skin infection
Some of the types of dogs that are thought to be predisposed to allergies are:
- Golden Retrievers
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Lhasa Apsos
- Shih Tzus
- Irish Setters
- German Shepherds
- Terriers (West Highland, Boston, Skye, and Scottish)
Causes of Mold Allergies in Dogs
There are several different types of airborne mold which can be found on plants, decaying vegetation, grasses, leaves, trees, and in soil.
- Alternaria - common in spring and fall
- Phoma - after autumn rains
- Spondylocladium - plants, air ducts
- Helminthosporium - soil in summer
- Hormodendrum - leaves
- Penicillium - vegetation, stored objects
- Aspergillus - vegetation, basements
- Fusarium - cereal crops, plants
Diagnosis of Mold Allergies in Dogs
Pets who have an inhalant allergy often have sensitivities to multiple particles such as dust, mites, and pollen. Cases where a dog has a severe skin problem that is difficult to diagnose, a referral to a veterinary dermatologist may be necessary.
To start, the veterinarian will discuss your dog’s medical history. Important information for her to know will be recent illnesses, prior incidences of skin irritation, recent travel history, present diet, and whether there has been a need for medication of late. The veterinarian will also do a physical examination which will include a close look at the ears and the skin over the body. Some pets will need to be sedated for this exam if their ears or skin are tender, sore, or infected. Tests that can be done in the veterinary clinic will be blood tests, urinalysis, and skin scrapings, all with the goal of verifying other possible reasons for a skin problem such as mites or mange.
A veterinary dermatologist will order further testing which may include skin biopsy, skin cytology, ear and skin cultures, and additional skin scraping if necessary. Intradermal skin testing, where responses to allergens are measured and additional blood tests to check for antibodies to specific allergens may be recommended also.
Treatment of Mold Allergies in Dogs
The treatment for the mold allergy may involve many elements including:
Shampooing your pet often with a hypoallergenic product in cool to warm water (never hot as it may irritate the skin) could be required to soothe the itching.
Medications such as corticosteroids and antihistamines can help with the inflammation. Topical creams to relieve redness, and Omega 3 supplements to boost the response of the body to the medication may be prescribed.
Allergen injections of a gradually increasing dosage are given as treatment, with the goal of desensitizing your dog to the mold.
Recovery of Mold Allergies in Dogs
The treatment and the recovery of a mold allergy go hand in hand. Consistent adherence to the therapies prescribed by the veterinarian, as well as work on your behalf will help a pet living with allergies. Avoid allowing your pet to go in areas that have a potential for mold, like basements and under the deck. Use a dehumidifier in your home and clean rooms that typically produce mold (like bathrooms and humid laundry rooms) often. Use cleaning products that remove mold and spores, and have air conditioning ducts checked regularly. Pets can wear washable booties and a sweater when heading outside. Wiping the fur and feet upon entry into the home may help as well. The veterinarian can guide you further if you have questions, and will want to re-check your pet’s skin as needed to ensure that the measures that are being taken to combat the allergy are sufficient.
Mold Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I have a 2 year old pit bull and we moved to Oregon almost two years ago. Until that he has never had any skin issues. Now is is always chewing at his paws and they are red and sensitive to touch. He also has something going on in his left ear, but the vet said it wasn't in an infection, he thought he had gotten something in it, but it has been over a year and the problems persists. If it is allergies, what type of topical treatment helps to reduce the itching and what can be used to relieve the itching from his ear.
I have a shitz zu, she is three months old. I recentlg found mold in my Kitchen under sink....I think it may have affected my dog.
She has excessive hair loss, sneezing and some spots under her belly.
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My dog is 7 and has had ear infections since 3 months off and on. This past year she started having terrible allergy symptoms. She does not present like a dog. She has respiratory symptoms like a human (sneezing, running nose, reverse sneezing) and this past year she developed coughing that would not stop. A specialist did a trachea wash that just showed inflammation and said it was bronchitis but she did not/would not address or test her for allergies as they were the start of this awful experience. My vet tested her blood and she showed a strong allergy to fusarium. She is presently on an inflammation doze of predinoze and Atopica. That helped with the cough but not the sneezing. Now the cough is back. She had Flovent for two months but it did not help. Is there something to address the mold allergy? It is the reason and I don't think she will improve till the cause rather than the symptoms are addressed.
Fusarium normally causes ulcerative dermatitis or gastrointestinal illness caused by spoiled food; if there is sensitivity to Fusarium based on allergy testing, removal of the initiating cause and treatment with an antifungal medication like itraconazole would be the way forward. In complicated cases, it would be best to visit an Internal Medicine Specialist to assist with a more in depth management and treatment plan. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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Hi! So my dog has allergies to seasons but few weeks ago our room was filled with mold. Now his hands and legs are all red. Around his lips are also red. He is always chewing his paws and they are really bad. It's been few days but he is not doing any better. He is now so sensitive, if I touch his legs or paws he will take them under his buddy. It's like he is in pain. He is a mix of Jack Russell with Miniature Bull Terrier.
It is important to remove Snoopy from the moldy environment and to bathe him with a sensitive shampoo; it would be best to visit your Veterinarian to assess the extent of the reaction so that systemic medication and topical ointments may be prescribed, it would also be valuable to put a cone on him to prevent further licking. There is also a risk of secondary skin infections if Snoopy continues to bite himself and damage his skin. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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We have been living in an apartment with our 3 pugs where we found aspegillus/penicillium mold spores in the air and want to know what shampoo we can use to kill mold spores/mycotoxins from the mold before moving into our new home. Also, both my girlfriend and I have been diagnosed with mold disease, how can we test for this in our dogs as well?
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