Molds are fungi that grow in the form of hyphae, main mode of vegetative growth. They have an important role in the ecosystem as they help in the biodegradation of organic matter.
Although there are more than a thousand species of molds, they all require the same conditions in order to grow. You will learn more about these conditions later in the article.
If you are a pet owner, you have to familiarize yourself with the effect that molds have on your pet and yourself. So, does mold affect your cat or dog?
Are Molds Dangerous for Your Pet’s Health?
There are molds that can cause very serious health problems in pets. This usually happens if the pet ingests the mold or even inhales it.
Provided that all of the environmental requirements are met, molds can grow everywhere. You can find them both indoors and outdoors. Molds are usually found in rotting trees, soil, and food thrown in the garbage. But what makes molds dangerous?
You see, there are molds that produce mycotoxins, which are toxic chemical substances. The name “mycotoxins” is actually derived from two Greek words: fungus and poison.
Mycotoxins don’t only harm pets but humans as well.
As mentioned, not all molds are poisonous. Still, there are quite a number of molds that can harm you and your pet. Some of the most common species that are considered dangerous include:
If you or your pet are exposed to these molds, you could experience symptoms like coughing or sneezing. Exposure to these molds can sometimes cause neurological problems in humans. In rare cases, mold exposure may even have a lethal outcome.
How Does Mold Affect Your Cat or Dog?
If your pet inhales toxic mold, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Rapid breathing
- Nasal discharge
- Bleeding from the nose or mouth
- Excessive scratching, chewing, and licking that can lead to sores
If a toxic mold is ingested, the symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in stool
- Problems with the gastrointestinal tract
- Allergic reactions like excessive scratching, chewing, or licking that can lead to loss of fur
As a rule, starting treatment early is the best way to ensure its effectiveness and restore your pet’s health, so the sooner you notice these symptoms, the better. However, if you fail to notice these symptoms or decide not to treat your dog’s condition, mold exposure could lead to terrible consequences such as organ damage or death.
Where Do Molds Usually Appear?
As explained above, molds can be found both indoors and outdoors. More specifically, molds tend to thrive in areas that meet the following conditions:
- Moisture – This is the most important condition as molds need moisture in order to spread and grow.
- Food – Outdoor vegetation, building materials, as well as indoor materials (porous ones especially) like ceiling, wood, paint, and carpet are all considered mold food.
- Optimal Temperatures – The ideal temperature for mold growth is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they can survive even in non-optimal temperatures
With that being said, you can expect to find molds in the following areas:
All areas that can get steamy and humid are considered steamy spaces. They include your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, etc.
Clutters, heating, and ventilation can block the airflow, which can lead to condensation. Condensation can create a moist environment which, as you now know, is perfect for molds.
Air Conditioning Ducts
Molds can even grow and survive in organic matter, standing water, and in your air conditioning ducts due to the condensation that creates a moist environment.
That’s why you need to check your air conditioning ducts and remember to perform preventative maintenance every now and then.
Standing water can be found in a refrigerator drip pan. This environment is perfect for molds.
If you have leaking pipes, you can also expect to find molds.
How to Get Rid of Molds
Like all other things in life, when it comes to molds, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here is what you should do to prevent molds from growing inside your home.
- Make sure that your kitchen and bathroom are both equipped with fans and ventilation systems.
- Keep the interior of your home as dry as you possibly can. That means that you need to repair leaky pipes, windows, roof, and other areas that might create a fertile breeding ground for molds.
- If water does manage to get inside your home, make sure to clean it as fast and as thoroughly as possible.
If it is too late and you find areas affected by molds, you can either buy a do-it-yourself kit or call a professional.
When it comes to your pets, aside from ensuring that your home isn’t affected by molds, you should also develop these habits in order to keep them safe:
- Wash your cat’s or dog’s food bowl at least once a day
- Wash your cat’s or dog’s toys at least two times a week
- Make sure that your pet food is in a sealed container in a dry area
- Wash your pet’s bedding immediately if it becomes damp
It goes without saying that being careful where you walk your pet and where you allow it to go on its own has a lot to do with keeping it away from molds. Also, it is always a good idea to buy a dehumidifier if the weather is humid.
The Final Words
Although not all molds are toxic, there are species that can cause terrible damage to both your and your pet’s health. Whether inhaled or ingested, toxic molds can cause a variety of symptoms in your pet, ranging from mild to potentially life-threatening.
Molds thrive in humid conditions with insufficient ventilation. As such, the best way to protect your pet’s health is to ensure that all the areas in your home are dry and properly ventilated.