The answer is an emphatic yes! Dogs can get hay fever. Each year, as the spring and summer months set in, more than 10 million people in the UK complain about hay fever. Many pet owners also complain about hay fever in dogs. The symptoms featured in the U.K.’s most Googled dog health issues.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to environmental allergens such as pollen. It causes flu-like symptoms like a runny nose, irritation in the eyes, coughing, sneezing and sinus pressure. This guide will help you learn more about hay fever in dogs, the symptoms, how to help your fur baby feel better, and what you can do to boost his defences.
Hay fever in dogs explained
Allergies in humans have been a mystery for years. Scientists have explained them as a general “misfiring” of defence systems. But a recent theory suggests that allergies are not a breakdown of the immune system. Instead, they are an essential primordial defence system that continues to protect us against “poisons.” Perhaps the same explanation could hold for canine hay fever.
But what we know is that when a dog comes into contact with allergens such as pollen (either by inhaling or skin contact), it could respond by releasing histamines into the skin. The histamines can trigger a variety of symptoms that might not be the same as humans. But like in humans, canine hay fever can make a dog’s life miserable.
The symptoms of hay fever in dogs
Although different, canine hay fever symptoms are almost similar to human hay fever symptoms. Below are some of the most common signs.
- Frequent sneezing.
- Red and sore looking skin around the eyes, ears and between the paws
- Red, and sometimes watery, eyes.
- Rashes on the paws and face
- Skin irritation, especially around the nose, ears and eyes.
- Due to the discomfort, the pet often licks their paws, scratches a lot, and rubs their ears and muzzle.
- Tiredness or lethargy, especially when the pollen count is high.
If this summer (and maybe previous ones), your dog struggled with these symptoms, now you know what could have been bugging him. But don’t rush to conclusions. Take him to the vet and let the vet diagnose the condition. Many other ailments could have similar symptoms. The vet might want to rule them out before recommending treatment for allergies.
Treatment for hay-fever in dogs
Canine hay fever can affect any dog. But some breeds are known to be more susceptible than others. These include Dalmatians, Irish Setters, Poodles, Golden retrievers, Schnauzers, Western highland Terriers and White Terriers, and Shar-Pei.
Although it could be tempting, do not give your dog any medication without the prescription of a qualified vet. As we mentioned, your dog could be suffering from a different ailment. So an antihistamine pill will not do. Besides, you do not know the correct doses and may end up hurting your fur baby. So, do what is right and take your pooch to the vet.
Relieve the discomfort
If it turns out to be canine hay fever, the first goal is to relieve the discomfort.
Topical treatments can help reduce the symptoms. For example, you could wash the dog in an Epsom-salt bath. It soothes the itch and relieves the irritation. But remember to rinse the dog with clean water and thoroughly dry him after the bath. The Epsom salt could cause diarrhoea if it finds its way into the dog’s tummy.
Take precautionary measures
Besides relieving the symptoms, you can help your dog by doing the following:
- Keep a grooming kit handy. If your dog has a heavy coat, consider trimming it during the warm months. Also, brush it regularly to comb or cut out matted hair. The lumps and clumps, if unattended, could hold on to debris, dirt, and pollen.
- Look out for the daily pollen forecast. If the pollen levels are too high, consider staying indoors. But if the conditions are favourable, plan your hikes and walks when pollen levels are lowest, like early mornings and in the evenings.
- Wipe the dog after every walk. Pay more attention to the paws and muzzle areas. If your dog is sensitive, consider bathing after every walk.
- Keep your backyard tidy and dog-friendly.
- Clean the dog’s bedding more frequently.
- Boost your dog’s natural defences. Fatty acids like Omega 3 oils are known to have skin healing properties. Look out for dog food and supplements that can boost the fatty acids content in their diet.
There are many natural remedies for canine hay fever. Many are DIY remedies. However, we strongly recommend that you avoid giving your fur baby any medication (whether DIY or from the store) without a prescription from the vet.
Depending on the severity of the allergic reaction, a vet could prescribe pills or, in some cases, a hay fever shot.
A final word on canine hay fever
Diagnosing hay fever in dogs is not as easy as it may seem. The symptoms could be an indicator of another ailment. If your dog exhibits signs of an allergic reaction, tell a vet about your suspicions. Thankfully, now you know what hay fever in dogs looks like, what causes it, and how to minimise the occurrence. If the vet concludes that your dog has an allergic reaction, they will recommend the appropriate treatment.