Looking for a mold exposure treatment in Tampa, FL? With 300 million scent receptors in their nostrils (compared to about 6 million in humans) and a portion of their brain devoted to analyzing smells that is 40 times larger than that of humans, dogs are well-equipped to detect even the faintest of scents.
No surprise there.
Dogs have been put to work since the early days of domestication to help hunters locate prey, and their utility in this area has expanded significantly since then. Today, dogs are being trained to sniff out and detect a variety of items, including the following:
- Illegal drugs
- Lost children
- Dead/decomposing bodies
- Illnesses such as cancer, malaria, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease
- Bed bugs
- Fertile cows
- Invasive pythons
- SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19)
- Toxic mold
And when it comes to the last item on the above list, mold-detection dogs may be able to identify the presence of mold and track it to its source where experts using the latest in mold-detection technology have failed.
In this post, we explore the potential advantages of mold-detection dogs, along with their limitations.
Warning: This post covers the use of dogs in detecting the presence of toxic mold — not the use of dogs as a replacement to testing for mold. The only way to accurately determine the species of a mold contamination is through testing. And for that, you’ll need to hire a mold expert — someone who is trained in safely collecting and analyzing samples, and then preparing a detailed written report for you, your healthcare team, your landlord (if you lease or rent), and your healthcare and property insurance companies.
Potential Advantages of Mold-Detection Dogs Over Traditional Mold Detection Techniques
Traditional mold detection techniques rely on a number of approaches, including visual inspections, air sampling, and the use of moisture detectors and thermal scans to identify high humidity and temperature gradients that promote mold growth.
These methods can track the mold to its source or identify areas where the mold may be hidden (for example, inside a wall).
However, these traditional techniques can be costly and aren’t always 100 percent reliable. We often see patients who test positive for mold while their homes and buildings where they spend time test negative. Mold-detection dogs are said to offer the following potential advantages over traditional techniques:
- Speed: A dog can inspect a home or office in a matter of minutes and often tell immediately whether mold is present — no waiting days or weeks for test results.
- Ability to pinpoint the source: Traditional methods usually involve a two-step process: 1) identify the presence of mold and then 2) locate the source. Dogs can go directly to the source —even if the source is hidden or not visible to the naked eye. That potentially could result in savings of time and money.
- Cost: Speed and ability to pinpoint the source may translate into lower mold-remediation costs for homeowners. In addition, early remediation can help to speed recovery from mold-related illnesses.
- Ability to smell the mold: Unlike moisture or temperature meters, dogs can reportedly smell mold even when conditions for mold growth aren’t ideal or when the conditions no longer exist, but the mold spores are still present.
Mold Exposure Treatment: Potential Limitations of Mold-Detection Dogs
While trained dogs might have potential advantages over traditional mold-detection methods, they also have limitations, including the following:
- Height: Dogs are relatively short, so if the mold is in the attic or ceilings, a dog may not be able to reach the area for a close sniff. As a result, the dog’s ability to pinpoint the source may be limited.
- Scope: Most mold-detection dogs are trained to sniff out 18–19 common species of toxic mold, but nearly 100 species of mold are known to be toxic to humans. Traditional inspection methods are far broader in scope.
- Specificity: Dogs can’t provide quantifiable data, such as airborne concentration or the identity of a specific mold type. Traditional testing is required as a follow-up to gain more insight.
Whether mold-detection dogs will ever replace traditional detection techniques remains to be seen, but trained canines may be able to play a valuable role in the battle against toxic molds. Remember, the first step in treatment is to eliminate exposure.
If you remain in an environment where toxic mold is present, medical treatment may help but will be only partially and temporarily effective. Dealing with the source of the problem — mold exposure — is essential.
If you or a family member tests positive for toxic mold, but your home and other possible sources of exposure test negative for it, the time may have come to call in the dogs — specifically, a mold-detection dog. When evaluating a potential medical condition, it’s always good to get a second opinion.
And sometimes, that opinion can come from a well-trained dog. To find a canine trained in mold detection, run an online search for “mold-sniffing dog.” Or ask us for a referral if you’re located in Tampa, Fl.
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Disclaimer: The information in this blog post about the use of dogs in detecting toxic mold is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from the medical staff at BioDesign Wellness Center, Inc., nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.