Toxic mold doesn’t just impact humans. Nope. House pets can suffer from a wide variety of health issues due to exposure to mold and mycotoxins.
Some people were shocked that I kept my pets. They assumed that it was impossible to remove mold spores from animal fur. It never occurred to me to euthanize or rehome my pets – they are family members after all. Instead, I researched how to safely and effectively “remediate” my pets.
A little further along in this post I will discuss exactly what I did to remove mold spores from animal fur making my pets safe to cohabitate with again. But before we get to that, I need to share a little something that most people don’t think about when it comes to mold and pets.
Mold spores in animal fur aren’t exclusive to a mold exposure from the home they are living in.
Nope. In fact, house pets can and often do carry various molds on their body and they release these molds into their indoor environments. In fact, pet hair and dead skin flakes (dander) are a great source of nutrition for mold.
Scary right? Here you are practicing mold prevention and your dog or cat is exposing you to mold daily. This is why you should test for mold on your pet’s fur. (More on that further down).
Research shows that both cats and dogs often carry various toxic molds and mycotoxins in their hair with some studies finding molds in 100% of cat hair and 80% of dog hair. If you have dog or cat allergies, this could be the smoking gun as to why!
The Science Of Household Pets Carrying Molds On Their Fur
In a 1996 study of stray cats in Iran, researchers examined the fungal flora of the hair coat of 100 stray cats in different districts of the city of Isfahan, Iran. Saprophytic fungi were isolated from all cats. Meaning 100% of the cats tested positive for various molds in their hair and skin. Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria, Mucor and Cladosporium spp. were the most frequently isolated saprophytes. (1)
The fungal flora of the coat of 172 healthy pet cats was examined qualitatively in a 1991 study. Fungi were isolated from 136 (79%) of the 172 cats. Fifteen genera were isolated; 13 are commonly regarded as saprophytes, and 2 (Microsporum and Trichophyton) are commonly regarded as pathogens. Aspergillus, Alternaria, Penicillium, and Cladosporium spp were the most frequently isolated saprophytes. Dermatophytic fungi, including Microsporum gypseum (n = 1), M vanbreuseghemii (n = 1), and Trichophyton rubrum (n = 14), were recovered from 16 cats. Microsporum canis was not isolated from any cat during this study. (2)
Researchers in a 1996 study examined 944 dogs from Barcelona during a one year period to detect the fungal biota of the fur of dogs. They identified various molds/fungi in approximately 80% of the dog’s hair and skin. Species of Penicillium (% prevalence=89.5%), Alternaria (86.6%), Cladosporium (84.9%), Aspergillus (77.3%), Scopulariopsis (65.7%) and Chrysosporium (64.5%) were the most prevalent.
In 2007, researchers from Korea analyzed pet dogs as a source of providing molds at houses. They performed fungal isolation to the skin and hairs of 70 pet dogs at different houses and veterinary hospitals. A total of 44 fungal isolates were obtained from skin (27 isolates) and hairs (17 isolates) of the dogs. These were then investigated for the growth ability of 44 isolates at 37? and 45% of the isolates were able to grow.
The researchers demonstrated in Korea that pet dogs carry diverse molds commonly present in indoor air. These results indicate that pet dogs can be served as a contamination source of generating fungal bioaerosol into indoor environment having a potentiality of affecting human health.(3)
It is not just cats and dogs that carry mold spores in their fur. Horses and other animals have been found to be carriers of various molds.
For example, in a 1998 study, researchers examined the fungal flora of the hair and underlying skin from 20 horses free of skin or ocular disease. Fungi were isolated from both the hair and the underlying skin of all 20 horses. Twenty-two genera regarded commonly as saprophytes were identified and an additional 2 fungi resembled the perfect state of the cutaneous pathogenic genera Microsporum and Trichophyton. Cladosporium spp, Penicillium spp, and Rhizopus spp were the most frequently isolated saprophytes. In general, similar fungi were isolated from the hair and underlying skin, and differences were not noted in isolates from the saddle and rump regions.(4)
Pets and Mold – How To Test Your Pet’s Fur For Mold
Since I practice good mold prevention for pets, I don’t get carried away with testing my pets’ fur for mold. However, I do get curious and test a couple of times per year. It’s always interesting. I have yet to have a “clean” test. The pet mold tests aren’t crazy high with mold growth but those little buggers are carrying some unwanted mold spores around for sure. I blame the dog.
Testing your pet’s fur for mold is very easy and there is even a test kit created just for this type of testing! You can order the pet fur test kit here.
When conducting your first mold test on your pet, the ideal scenario is to:
- Test your pet (you can purchase the test kit here)
- Use Remedy Pet Shampoo to remove any mold spores in their fur
How To Test Your Pet For Mold – Step By Step
- Wash and dry your hands thoroughly prior to testing.
- Remove the lid (larger section) of the test plate and set on a paper towel with inside surface down to keep it from becoming contaminated.
- Hold the bottom part of the test plate so the agar is facing away from your hand.
- Wrap your fingers around the plate so the tips of your fingers are just over the edge of the rim.
- You then want to gently tap your pet 5 times with your fingers touching your pet (avoid touching your pet with the test plate). This will force the mold spores into the air and onto the plate.
- Replace the lid, place a piece of tape on each side of the plate, label the bottom (date, pet’s name and breed), wrap in tinfoil, place in a box and mail it into ImmunoLytics Lab.
You will receive a full-color online report identifying the mold genus and count. Lab fees are normally $33 per plate.
Back to the business of removing mold spores from animal fur…
You know your pet has been exposed to toxic mold and mycotoxins and you want to continue safely living with them. You don’t want to cross contaminate your new residence but are unsure how to remove mold spores from animal fur. No worries! I went through this and worked closely with one of the nation’s leading toxicologists (the late Dr. Jack Thrasher) to figure out how to safely remediate my pets.
I remember Dr. Thrasher giving me a sound piece of advice when it comes to navigating what to do with a house pet who was exposed to mold. He said “You have hair on your head and body right? We aren’t euthanizing you because of it are we? Just like you can clean your body, you can clean your pet. Yes, you can remove mold spores from animal fur.”
Sage advice people. I simply washed my hair and body with a detox soap and called it good. So why wouldn’t I save my pets?
A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Remove Mold Spores From Animal Fur
Step 1. For dogs and cats who are highly contaminated OR if you are very reactive to mold, you will want to get them shaved as completely as possible.
No lion cuts for the cats people. We are talking as close to bald as the groomer or you can get. My cat was so mad at me (and cold – I had to get him a sweater since this was winter) but he looked pretty cute and the fur does grow back. I actually let him sport a lion cut for a while after the initial shaving.
The reason you want to shave your dog or cat is obvious I would think. Why take a chance with contaminated fur? If you know your pet has been exposed to high levels of mold and mycotoxins, it is better to be safe than sorry. Your pet will forgive you.
If you have a house rabbit or other small furry animal, do not shave them. It isn’t safe for them.
Step 2: Give your pet a detox bath with an antifungal or bio-balancing shampoo.
You have two options when it comes to remediating your pet with a bath. A clay based antifungal shampoo OR a bio-balancing shampoo.
Remedy Pet Shampoo is a bio-balancing shampoo designed to remove mold spores and mycotoxins from your pet’s fur and skin. It is very gentle and unscented and also has a lot of moisturizing properties. That’s a plus since you are bathing your pet often initially. You can purchase Remedy Pet Shampoo here.
Another option for DOGS is to use a natural clay-based antifungal shampoo to remove mold spores from animal fur. My favorite trusted shampoo for this is MOOSH. It’s a great natural and pure product that is safe for all dogs and is very effective as an anti-bacterial and antifungal wash that also adds additional support using clays that bind to toxins and pull them away from your pet. You can buy MOOSH HERE.
You will want to shampoo your pet at least 3 times initially. Normal maintenance baths only require one shampooing, at a frequency that makes sense for you. I suggest bathing every other week.
While it might be tempting – do not use essential oils to remove mold spores from pet fur. First, there is a lot of debate about whether or not essential oils remove mold. Second, essential oils can be life saving to humans but potentially life threatening to pets.
Step 3: CitriSafe Bio-Balancing Pet Solution
After shampooing your pet and rinsing thoroughly, re-rinse with mixture of one gallon of water and 4 tablespoons of Remedy Pet Shampoo.
Step 3 ½: Don’t Forget About All That Pet Bedding!
If you remediate your fur baby but don’t wash their bedding and blankets at the same time, you just successfully recontaminated your pet!
Wash all pet bedding in CitriSafe Laundry Liquid. It not only knocks out the mold spores but it also takes care of pet odors that get trapped in their bedding. Alternatively, you can wash pet laundry with castile soap (like this one) and MicroBalance Laundry Additive.
Step 4: Start using a safe and effective binding agent to detox and pull out the mold and impurities from your pet’s bodies.
The detox supplements I recommend are:
What do you do if you have a fish, reptile, amphibian, or bird?
That’s a tough one. Fish – well – they don’t really carry mold spores so a new tank and accessories is about all you can do. The same goes for reptiles and amphibians. For water loving reptiles and amphibians, you can give them a gentle scrubbing in a shallow tub of water if they will tolerate it.
Birds are a little more complicated. Dr. Thrasher told me he would likely suggest not keeping the bird. However, in my research, I have discovered that treating a bird with the “bird mite” protocol might works for mold spores too.
Pets and Mold – How To Reduce The Risk Of Cross Contamination
If you have a cat or cats, keep them indoors. This eliminates them attracting mold spores from the world outdoors. I know some people just don’t believe in confining a cat to the indoors however, this is the best way to prevent mold spores in cat fur.
If you prefer to allow your cat outdoors, consider making them an outdoor cat with privileges to one indoor space like a garage or mudroom. This reduces the possibility of your cat dropping mold spores throughout your home. (Please note that I am pro indoor cats. But in fairness to a balanced article, I had to include this).
If you decide that an indoor/outdoor cat is the only way to go, you will at the very least brush your cat’s fur before allowing it inside. Wiping your cat down with these natural cat wipes is also a good idea.
If you have a dog, it is more difficult to avoid mold transfer from fur to house. My best advice is to wipe your dog’s paws before they come inside and brush them quickly before they enter the house. In addition, use these grooming wipes before it comes back inside.
For all animals going outside and coming back inside, be sure to keep their nails trimmed which prevents some transfer of mold spores. Brush your pets daily and bathe regularly with Remedy Pet Shampoo. In addition, wash pet bedding weekly with EC3 laundry additive or CitriSafe Laundry Liquid. Both remove mold and mycotoxins better than any product out there.
That’s all I’ve got! I hope you find this post helpful in your quest to remove mold spores from animal fur. If you have any questions, give me a shout!
Sources for this article include: