Many people don’t realize that a small amount of water or moisture in their homes can quickly create the conditions for mold growth. Mold isn’t just a financial worry — it is a health hazard for humans and pets alike. Airborne mold can cause all types of problems for your pet. And since they can’t easily communicate with you about how they’re feeling, it’s up to you to look out for the common signs and symptoms. Pets, particularly guinea pigs, rabbits, kittens and puppies, will often begin to show signs of mold exposure before humans do because of their small size.
Mold in the home
Mold is a fungus that grows in damp environments. Mold needs two things to grow: a small amount of water inside the home, and common household surfaces such as curtains, carpets, upholstery, drywall and tile. Once these two factors combine, a mold spore can latch on and establish a new colony in less than 24 hours. This fungus can actually thrive without displaying any visible signs or noticeable odors, which can make it quite difficult to detect and manage.
Homes with basements are highly vulnerable to dampness and mold growth. According to a 2017 consumer survey, 55% of U.S. homeowners and renters have lived in a home with a wet basement and 76% of them feared that their family was being harmed by mold.
No home is completely watertight. Nearly every home is subject to flooding from heavy rain or leaky or broken pipes. Even high humidity and condensation can create the perfect storm of conditions for mold to colonize.
Symptoms of Mold Exposure in Pets
While human mold allergy sufferers typically have respiratory problems, dogs, cats and other animals often display symptoms on their skin. Some common symptoms of mold allergies in pets are:
- Itchiness and scratching when no fleas are present
- Chewing/licking skin and paws
- Hair loss and sores due to excessive scratching and/or licking
- Constant shaking of the head and the ears
- Ear infections that don’t go away
- Runny nose and eyes
- Labored breathing
- Wheezing sound when breathing
- Loss of appetite
Where to Look
Some of the most common locations for mold allergy symptoms to appear in both cats and dogs are:
- Inside of the ears
- Around the eyes
- Between the toes
Symptoms of mold exposure can mimic other health conditions so it’s important to see a veterinarian and have r pet evaluated. Do advise your vet if you’re concerned that your pet has been exposed to mold.
Keep Mold In Check
To suppress mold growth, keep the interior of your home as dry as possible.
- Make sure your kitchen and bathroom fans are in good working order so they remove the damp and humid air
- Repair or seal a leaky roof, windows, doors, basement, pipes and any spot that is allowing water to settle in your home.
- Check for moisture in hidden areas like the back side of dry wall, underneath wallpaper, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside and padding of carpets, around pipes and inside ductwork.
Thoroughly clean and dry any areas that are wet or damp.
The World Is a Moldy Place!
Mold is all around us. It’s part of the natural world. For pets that go outdoors, the autumn season is the time to be most vigilant. Mold is found on plants, trees, leaves and even in soil. Wipe your dog’s paws when you come in from a walk or outdoor play. A bath might be in order if your dog has been rolling around in a pile of leaves.
Austin Werner is the President of Real Seal LLC, a basement waterproofing company based in Schaumburg, IL. Real Seal is committed to personalized and expedited service and, of course, dry basements!