Most of us have learned at school that 71 percent of Earth’s surface is covered by water. But did you know that about 25 percent of the biomass on Earth consists of molds, along with other members of the fungal family? Molds are one of the most ubiquitous organisms in the world! I can hear some of you reading this going “oh, gross!”
Certain fungi are harmless to people and with many others we simply don’t get in contact often enough to experience any harmful effects. However, molds do produce spores and toxins know as mycotoxins. Here’s a blog post that covers in detail harmful effects of molds in your homes.
Although some mycotoxins are well known to affect humans and have been shown to be responsible for human health effects, for many mycotoxins, little information is available. So it’s not surprising that until recently we didn’t know much about mold’s harmful effects on house pets, although veterinarians have long suspected that mold can cause serious illness and death of dogs, cats and other pets.
A recent press release by the American Veterinary Medical Association has confirmed the hazardous effect of mold on pets’ health. The conclusion was based on the findings of Florida-based veterinary specialist Douglas Mader. He was performing a dental procedure on two cats when he noticed frothy blood in their anesthesia tubes. He discontinued the procedure but the two animals died within the next two days.
The blood samples of the cats revealed the presence of toxic black mold in their lung capillaries. Both the animals died of pulmonary hemorrhage. Upon further investigation, toxic black mold was found in the walls of the home where the cats lived. Although the animals did not show any external symptoms, the fungus was causing significant internal damage.
Black mold (Stachybotrys) is particularly harmful for people as well as house animals. It is most likely to appear in areas of the home that are warm, humid and damp, such as crawlspaces or attic under the roof. Black mold is easy to spot because of its distinctive color.
Respiratory difficulties and illnesses are among the most notable and most concerning side effects of black mold poisoning. Whether the animal is suffering from what seems like a minor respiratory difficulty or serious lung trauma, the capillaries within the lungs are being weakened. The black mold puts these capillaries under duress, causing them to rupture, hemorrhage and eventually lead to the death of the animal.
Just like small children and the elderly, puppies and older animals are more at risk if exposed to molds.
If your pet is exhibiting symptoms such as extreme lethargy, breathing problems such as wheezing, coughing or struggling to aspirate, bleeding from the nose and disruption in regular eating habits, your pet may be suffering the symptoms of black mold exposure.
Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of the following in your pet’s behavior:
- Excessive itching
- Chewing its own feet and skin
- Broken skin