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Snow Mold - An Allergy Trigger for many Dogs this time of year!

Hello my amazing dog friends!


We've had quite the yucky weather the last month here in British Columbia and right after Christmas we enjoyed a big snow dump followed by lots of freezing rain and then now we are right back up into spring weather and it's caused a very soupy and yucky environment around here!


I am resharing this post from last year to remind everyone about Snow Mold and have added a paw soak recipe that can REALLY benefit your pups! Let me know if you try it and if you see the difference in your dog's symptoms 😊



There is always an influx this time of year as the snow begins to melt (and usually freeze, then melt some, then freeze and so on) of owners that begin to notice their dog sneezing and coughing, having some mild eye discharge, having reverse sneezing episodes (where your dog seems like they can't catch their breath and are snorting repeatedly) and even becoming itchy and getting ear and/or paw infections.


While some of those symptoms listed can be chalked up to things like excess moisture causing an overgrowth of yeast from walking in wet snow and not being dried fully in between their toes or in the ears, there is also something on the ground that contributes to these issues this time of year, and it's called Snow Mold! If you are a human prone to allergies yourself, you may already know what I'm talking about because it triggers a lot of symptoms for us as well!


Snow mold is a fungal problem that lies on top/in the grass that occurs after snow melts in the early spring. Snow mold usually occurs after the first large snowfall of the season, because it creates the perfect blanket between the grass and snow for fungus to grow. The fungal spores actually live in the soil all year round, but they remain inactive. When the temperature gets warmer in the spring, the melting snow drenches the soil and the spores sprout and spread.


When unhealthy levels and/or types of mold spores are inhaled by dogs, they can cause a number of health problems, including symptoms like: Difficulty breathing, wheezing, sneezing, coughing and nasal discharge. Our dogs spend most of their time in the yard nose to the ground sniffing and can directly inhale these spores causing irritation. Dogs that are especially sensitive may have itchy paws after walking on it as well. If your dog likes to eat snow, they may be consuming more than just water in the springtime which can also lead to diarrhea and vomiting.


Unfortunately there isn't much we can do to stop snow mold from occurring but there are a few things you can do to help keep it minimal:


  • Gently rake the effected area to loosen up any matted snow mold grass and allow the soil to dry more quickly.

  • Make sure your lawn has proper drainage. Anywhere water pools can create a breeding ground for snow mold, so fill in any low areas before winter and as they come up.

  • Don't let leaves or snow pile up. Anything that traps moisture is bad news for grass, so rake up leaf piles in the late fall. When shoveling driveways or sidewalks, try not to create large piles of snow that will take a long time to completely thaw.


If you find your dog is having these symptoms or is already sensitive to environmental allergies there are some ways we can help keep them as comfortable as possible and minimize the irritation:


Wipe your dogs paws when coming inside from the yard or a walk with baby wipes or something similar to try and get any spores off.


If possible, avoid letting your dog deeply sniff, drink from or play in pooled water or areas that already appear to have mold (can appear white, grey or pinkish).






Luckily we can also help manage symptoms topically for our dogs with irritated paws YEAR ROUND (nothing is worse than your dog getting in between their toes with their tongue as you're drifting off too sleep...if you know you know 😂).


A proper occasional PAW SOAK helps keep irritation at bay and also removes any harmful pesticides, chemicals or bacteria your dog may have picked up on their feet during their daily adventures (especially this time of year with road salts, sand and potential toxins in the melting snow) and is actually a great thing for ALL dogs to have added to their wellness routine!



Being the primary source of sweating and contact with the outside world, dog paw pads are like mini Swiffers that pick up whatever they walk on a day-to-day basis. This includes harmful cleaning products, air sprays, pesticides, herbicides, pollen, dust, mold, dust mites, and more.


According to Dr. Karen Becker's article titled Miserable Paws: From Itching to Comfort in 5 minutes....


"Pesticides, herbicides, ragweed, grass allergens, pollen, mold spores and dust mites are just some examples of what can easily accumulate on your dog’s paws. Up to 50% of foot licking and chewing can be reduced by mechanically removing allergens or irritants on the paws."


Mechanical removal refers to physically washing the allergens and debris off the paws to have clean and particle-free paws. The most successful and fool-proof way to do that is with a paw soak with iodine.


Povidone-iodine (10%) is an organic iodine solution, and it is 100% safe and non-toxic for your animals. You can use a veterinary solution or buy it from pretty much any pharmacy or drugstore in the medical/first aid area and on Amazon. Some owners are wary if their dog has white fur/paws that the iodine would stain. But fear not, as long as the solution is adequately diluted, this is not a problem.



Povidone Iodine has antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic properties which means that it is the perfect solution to relieve irritated and itchy paws.


Materials Needed:

  • A set of adorable paws

  • 10% Povidone Iodine

  • Bucket, Bowl, Sink or Tub


1. Gather all materials needed.


2. Fill your chosen tub/sink/container sized to fit your woofer with enough *lukewarm* water to cover the dog's paw pads completely.


3. Add in povidone-iodine until the mixture becomes the color of sweet tea (or as shown below). If it's too light, add more, and if it's too dark, add more water.


4. Place the dog's paws in the solution for 2-5 minutes. This is an excellent time for some quality pets or snacks (spreading some peanut or almond butter on the side of the tub or in a toy works great for these few minutes!)


5. You don't have to do anything special except make sure that all paw pads are covered! Ensure you lift the paws up and swirl the water around to make sure it's coating the area well, including between the toes!


6. Once the 2-5 minutes are over, rinse the paws with clean lukewarm water and towel dry the paws well.


I suggest doing these once per week and increase that frequency depending on your dog's personal needs. It's a great idea to follow up the soak with a nice natural paw balm or moisturizer in-order to keep the paw pad in good shape and avoid dryness and cracking. Coconut oil works well as well but they may drive you nuts trying to eat it!



There are also ways we can support our dogs through allergy season through their diet:


Pre and Probiotics

  • These work by increasing the good bacteria in your dog’s digestive tract. This helps their body develop immunity against allergens and improves your dog’s health overall.

  • I recommend the "Love Bugs" By The Adored Beast and doing a 2 week round every 3 months throughout the year.


Bovine Colostrum

  • Supplementation with Freeze Dried Bovine Colostrum may be beneficial for dogs with food or seasonal allergies as it contains an ingredient called proline-rich polypeptide (PRP). Research studies on Bovine Colostrum report that PRP may stimulate an under-active immune system into dealing with disease and inflammation which in turn helps control allergy symptoms.

  • I recommend the Bovine Colostrum by THRIVE (Big Country Raw)


Bee Pollen

  • It contains Quercetin is a flavonoid with antioxidant, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. During an allergic reaction the body releases histamine. Histamine leads to inflammation, redness and irritation. When taken regularly, it can help reduce allergy symptoms and allergic reactions. Quercetin also inhibits the production of specific inflammatory molecules.so it’s also helpful in treating asthma and respiratory issues involving inflammation. I recommend finding it locally at your farmers market or health food store but if not, this brand is great!


Snow mold isn't the only dangerous thing that happens during the early spring/melt season, there is a higher chance of your dog coming into contact with bacteria on hikes/adventure walks. When the snow melts, anything and everything — vegetation and animals — that died during the winter is left behind. With higher temperatures the now easily accessible dead matter starts to thaw and decompose. This creates the perfect environment for harmful bacteria like clostridium or parasites can easily make their way into your dogs system and cause gastric distress and even infection. Be extra mindful when out hiking with your dogs this time of year and teach them a strong "Leave It" cue!


Lastly as a big reminder - there is a difference between your dog suffering mild allergy symptoms and your dog being sick. Kennel cough is common this time of year as well and can have some of the same symptoms. Should these symptoms get worse, continue ongoing without improving or be accompanied by lethargy, appetite changes or vomiting and diarrhea, please take them for a veterinary exam to rule out illness.


Love and Tail Wags!


 

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