Hay fever – how it can affect pets too

Spring is a time of growth when most trees, flowers and grasses bloom; however, unfortunately there are downsides as with this comes the unpleasant symptoms of hay fever for sufferers. It is not widely known amongst pet owners but we aren’t the only ones affected by the condition – your furry friends can be victims too!

The allergy dogs and cats suffer is very similar to that in humans. Animals have a reaction to airborne particles of substances such as pollen and dust which they inhale, although this is not manifested in typical symptoms that we humans experience, such as sneezing, but instead through itchy skin. This is most easily recognised by your pet persistently scratching, licking and trying to bite at their skin to relive the itching sensation, and in some cases even hair loss and a skin rash. The reason that dogs display different symptoms for the same condition is due to the fact that the histamines released by their body in response to pollen are mostly released in the skin rather than in the nose and eyes.

The cause for concern here is that if not diagnosed correctly and treated, this constant scratching can lead to sores and even skin infections. If the case is more severe, there may be other physical signs you can spot such as red or aggravated skin and also a generally more unhappy manner in your dog due to their discomfort.

If you do suspect your dog is an unlucky sufferer of hay fever, then be mindful of this during any walks, avoiding flowerbeds and freshly cut grass where possible. Other things that you can try to help relieve symptoms include bathing your dog with a shampoo designed to aid skin problems for dogs. Keeping up with regularly brushing their coat to ensure any trapped pollen is removed is important, and patting your dog down with a damp towel after walks can also help with this.

Airborne pollen can become caught in the fluids and mucus of the eyes and cause direct irritation to the membranes of the eye. This is common in dogs and cats when they run through long grass, and can be avoided by bathing your pets’ eyes after a walk with cool boiled water and ‘eye make-up’ removing wipes after walks.


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