Outdoor Molds on Fall Leaves Can Bring On Dog Allergies

The changing seasons usually bring on an allergy flare-up for our boxer Elsie. The Fall flare-up is most often brought on by increasing outdoor molds. Those pretty fall leaves pile up, get wet and breed molds. Even if we rake up every last leaf in our yard, it won’t prevent molds from other yards to bother her. I just make sure to wipe her feet when she comes in from outside and to give her regular baths. And, of course, her allergy shots keep the flare-ups from getting too problematic.

I found this cool mold map on Weather.com.  Here is what the mold spores situation looks like today in the U.S..  Visit the Weather.com mold spores map to see the latest update:
http://www.weather.com/maps/activity/allergies/usmoldspores_large.html

weather.com mold spores map
Mold Spores Map from Weather.com

Dog Allergy Stories. Gator the Lab Mix.

Gator - lab mix with dog allergies
Gator resting

Gator is a 13 year old Lab mix. When he was 6 months old, Gator was abandoned along a rural road in South Georgia.  When his owner Catherine rescued him, she noticed that he had severe skin problems.  She assumed that these skin issues were caused by fleas and ticks or that Gator suffered from mange, all common skin problem suffered by abandoned animals. 

After Gator was treated for his ticks and fleas, he was then checked and cleared for mange.  Yet, his skin problems continued. Gator had oozing rashes on his stomach, under his legs, in his groin area and on his muzzle.  He also developed frequent ear infections.  Catherine found that Gator would scratch at his skin until it became raw and bloody. 

Catherine and her family continued to look for other causes for Gator’s skin problems. They began to realize that he was likely suffering from allergies.  Catherine started trying different foods, but found that it had no affect on Gator. They also tried to limit the amount of time Gator spent outside and were careful to wipe him down when he came back indoors. Yet, none of these solutions helped with Gator’s skin condition.     

After about sixteen months of trial and error, Catherine was starting to narrow down the cause of Gator’s allergic reactions.  Catherine discovered that Gator’s allergies were very seasonal, and she believed they were caused by molds and pollen since his allergies are always worse in the Spring and Summer months.  Working with Gator’s vet, they found that the best treatment for Gator’s allergies was through a combination of medication and bathing

To treat Gator’s allergies on a daily basis, Catherine gives Gator a 2.5mg dose of Prednisone (steroid medication), a Claritin tablet and 250mg of milk thistle.  The milk thistle is given to protect Gator from potential liver damage problems which can be caused by continual dosages of Prednisone.  Gator is also given weekly baths.  If Gator is having a strong allergy flare up, Catherine will increase his Prednisone dose up to 10mg daily and his baths are increased to every three days.

Gator has allergies
Gator in his yard

Catherine and her family have found that regardless of where they live, Gator continues to have skin problems.  Their family has lived in Georgia, Texas, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland and Florida and has seen no change in Gator’s allergy problems. 

When asked what advice she would offer to other dog owners, Catherine suggests that owners never assume that their dog is allergic to just one thing.  If the dog has allergies, they are usually allergic to several different elements.  She also suggests that if dog owners decide to use Prednisone, they should go with the lowest dosage available and look into giving them milk thistle to prevent against liver damage.  Owners should be open to trying new medications and therapies and never give up.  It’s important to try everything they can to keep their pup as comfortable as possible. 

Catherine has certainly been keeping Gator comfortable. He is thirteen years old and going strong thanks to her efforts to keep his allergies under control.

Dog Allergy Treatments. Remove Mold in Your Home.

Mold can be a big problem for allergy-prone dogs.  In addition to outdoor mold, mold can grow indoors in humid spaces like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, garbage cans, refrigerators, carpets, and sheetrock.  Once you start looking for mold, you may be surprised at how prevalent it is in your home.

I live in an older home, in the Mid-Atlantic, where it can get quite humid.  After I started researching allergies, I’ve learned that my home can be a breeding ground for mold.  Here are some of the regular places I find and treat our mold:

  • Showers and Sinks.  These are likely the most common place for mold to grow in your home.  Since showers and sinks contain a lot of moisture, it’s an easy place for mold to grow and spread.  I’ve found the best solution is to spray on a mildew and mold cleaner or bleach, leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse and wipe clean.  This should keep the mold at bay for a couple of weeks.
  • Window panes.  In the winter months, I find that our home has some condensation forming in the corners of our window panes.  If left unattended, mold will eventually appear. I now wipe the condensation regularly, and use a mold cleaner or bleach as needed.
  • Basement corners.  One year, when left unattended, our basement walls started to grow a bit mold in the corners.  After cleaning up the mold, we’ve now learned to check these walls regularly and not lean any items against the corners – to prevent excess moisture buildup.
  • Window unit air conditioners.  We use some window unit air conditioners in our home during the hot summer months.  One year, I took a close look at one of our units and found mold growing on the intake vent.  I now include a good bleach wipe down of these vents as part of a regular summer cleaning routine.

In addition to the sources of mold I’ve listed above, you can also find mold growing in dishwashers, washing machines, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, since all regularly contain water.  Be sure to check these devices regularly and be prepared to eliminate mold as needed.

Dog Allergy Causes. Mold Allergies.

Mold is a type of fungus that feeds off decomposing plant or animal matter.  It is present both indoors and outdoors.  Mold spreads by releasing tiny spores into the air.  When these mold spores are inhaled, an allergic reaction may result.

Mold can grow quickly in dark, humid indoor spaces, such as shower stalls, basements, garbage cans, refrigerators, cabinets, washing machines, carpets, and sheetrock.  Mold is also prevalent outdoors, particularly in the Spring and Fall, when there are large numbers of dead leaves and other decaying plant matter.

Although outdoor mold allergies will be most noticeable in your dog during the Spring and Fall months, indoor mold can cause problems for your pet year round.

We live in Maryland, which can be very humid in the Summer.  Mold can quickly grow in our bathrooms if we don’t keep on top of it.  Unfortunately, mold can also be problematic in the Winter too. Our home is 100 years old and isn’t as tightly sealed as many new homes are today.  When the days are particularly cold, we’ll see a build-up of condensation on basement walls and windows.  These areas are excellent breeding grounds for mold.

When we had Elsie allergy tested, we learned that she was allergic to two different types of mold.  Once we realized this, we became super indoor mold fighters.  Suddenly these pesky mold discoveries took on a new significance in my life – they were hurting my dog and I needed to get rid of them.  I’ll share some of my mold fighting tips a bit later when we discuss Allergy Treatments.