Hot weather, shining sun, long days, and… a runny nose. Yes, its that time of the year when hay fever strikes! More formally known as ‘allergic rhinitis’, hay fever affects millions of people in the UK – but what about pets?
Unfortunately, our dogs and cats can suffer from hay fever too, with some symptoms that are all too familiars and others that are harder to recognise. The experts at Canagan have put together all you need to know to spot the signs and help your pet deal with hay fever.
What are the symptoms of hay fever in cats and dogs?
While sneezing, a runny nose and watery eyes can be observed in dogs and cats, they are not as common as they are in humans: our four-legged companions are more likely to suffer with skin problems.
The most common signs of a pollen allergy in cats and dogs include:
- Excessive itching
- Licking or biting their paws
- Sensitive paws
- Redness of the skin
- Rashes on the skin
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
“If you’re concerned about any of your pet’s symptoms, it’s worth seeking veterinary advice,” Canagan advises. “Consistent itching or nibbling at the skin could cause infections too, so it’s best to get your companion checked out if these symptoms persist.”
How common is hay fever in pets?
It’s believed that around 10 per cent of the canine population suffer with hay fever.
“It is thought that hay fever in cats and dogs could be genetic, but there are also a number of breeds that are more prone to hay fever than others, including dalmatians and poodles,” Canagan says. “A number of different factors influence this, like nose shape, breathing biology and their coats.
“It’s also believed that cats and dogs who are not exposed to the outdoors as puppies and kittens may be more likely to suffer with hay fever as adults, having a lower tolerance to pollen than others”
“Hay fever often develops over a number of years in cats and dogs, starting out small and causing a more severe reaction each time pollen is ingested. So, if you’re able to spot the signs and get a diagnosis from your vet early on, you may be able to alleviate your companion’s symptoms before they worsen.”
At what time of year is hay fever most likely?
These symptoms, which are most likely to appear in our pets at any time between March and September, include:
- Tree pollen, released during spring (late March to mid-May)
- Grass pollen and flower pollen in late spring and early summer (mid-May to July)
- Weed pollen, which is at its most potent in the summer through to early autumn (late June to September)
How to ease hay fever symptoms in cats and dogs
- Walk your dog early in the morning or let your cat out later at night to avoid high pollen counts during the day
- Wipe your companion’s fur, skin and paws with a damp cloth when they come back into the house to remove excess pollen
- Give your cat or dog a bath in cool water with shampoo designed to soothe the skin
- Groom your pet regularly
- Wash your pet’s bedding once a week during months with a high pollen count
- Hoover the floors in your home regularly
- Mow your lawn to keep the grass short
- Ask your vet for advice on antihistamines. Some contain chemicals that could harm your pets, so trust in their expertise, rather than seeking a cure alone
- You vet may also prescribe nasal sprays or eye drops, to help with symptoms