How A Mold Problem Can Affect Your Dog

Posted on: 22 July 2015

Mold spores get into your house through doorways, vents and air conditioning systems, and these organisms thrive in damp, humid conditions. American homeowners are increasingly aware that a build-up of mold in the home can cause allergies and respiratory infections in human family members, but these organisms can also cause problems for your pets. Find out how mold can affect your dog, and learn more about the steps you should take to protect your furry friends.

The scientific evidence

In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report that linked mold exposure to upper respiratory tract infections in humans. Crucially, the IOM report noted that problems could occur in people who were otherwise quite healthy. In 2009, the World Health Organization also issued guidance for homeowners about the need to control indoor air quality and mold exposure.

In 2007, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association published a report that linked the death of two cats in a Florida animal hospital to mold exposure. When the vet tested the dead cats' blood samples, he found a toxin that comes from a type of black mold called Stachybotrys chartarum. On further investigation, the vet discovered that the animals had lived in a home that had suffered damage during a hurricane, where the owners then discovered a high level of mold contamination.

The risk of mold allergies in dogs

A mold allergy can make life pretty miserable for your dog. Atopic allergies like this are common in dogs, and only flea allergies affect more animals. Indeed, vets believe that atopic allergies affect around 15 percent of pet dogs.

Your dog could become allergic to mold at any time. Commonly, animals develop these problems at a younger age, but if you move to a damp house, any otherwise healthy dog could experience allergy symptoms. Certain breeds are at higher risk of this problem, too. For example, Cairn terriers, Chihuahuas, pugs and English bulldogs are all more likely to develop an allergic reaction.

Symptoms to look for

Dogs with a mold allergy may show several symptoms.

Affected animals often have problems with their skin, and your dog is likely to show signs of constant irritation. He may bite or scratch at certain parts of his body, and you may notice that the dog often rubs his belly or face along the ground. Bald patches and secondary skin infections can occur in serious cases.

Dogs with mold allergies also often experience ear infections. The dog may produce unusual amounts of ear wax and show signs of discomfort or irritation. Other common symptoms include:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Lethargy and loss of appetite

If you spot any of these signs or any other unusual change in your dog's behavior, you should take the animal to your vet. A vet may carry out skin and blood tests to diagnose the problem, but the recommended treatment will generally depend on the symptoms. For example, some dogs need ear drops, while others need a course of antibiotics.

In any case, treatment of the symptoms is not the full solution. If you don't deal with the mold infestation, your dog will continue to suffer.

Dealing with a mold infestation

If a vet confirms that your dog has a mold allergy, you will need to tackle the problem at home. Steps you can take include:

  • Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep humidity levels low
  • Improving ventilation in the home
  • Drying your clothes outside
  • Fixing leaks in the roof or walls
  • Using mold inhibitors in paint

You should keep your dog out of rooms (like the basement) where the problem is more severe. In fact, in serious cases, your vet may say that you cannot take your dog home until you tackle the mold infestation. Crucially, serious mold infestation isn't often easy to fix. In these cases, you may need to contact a professional mold removal company for more help.

A mold infestation can harm you and your family's health, but these organisms can also create issues for your dog. If your animal shows signs of a mold allergy, you need to take action to get the problem under control. Visit to learn more about removing mold from your home.