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Hay fever in dogs

Hay fever in dogs

Health & Safety

Hay fever is an allergenic condition that can make life really miserable for people who are prone to it during the spring and summer, but did you know that dogs can suffer from hay fever too? April to September each year can be particularly challenging for dogs that are prone to hay fever, and the condition can affect dogs that live both in the country and in the city, and it is not exclusive to areas that have a lot of green spaces!

As many as 10% of all dogs in the UK are thought to suffer from hay fever to some degree, and while in some dogs this might just mean the odd sneezy spell or the sniffles, for some dogs, hay fever can be fairly pronounced. Research even suggests that dogs in urban areas that are not exposed to a lot of plants and grass from an early age may be even more likely to develop hay fever than dogs that live in the country, and it is a good idea for dog owners to learn a little more about this allergenic condition, and find out what can be done to help affected dogs. Read on to learn more.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever is known by the technical term “allergic rhinitis,” and as the name suggests, it is an allergenic condition. Hay fever’s allergenic triggers can include pollen, dander and dust, with grass, pollen and other plant-based matter being the most common triggers.

A dog that is allergic to one of these compounds will display a sensitivity reaction of the immune system when they come into contact with a trigger, which leads to the body producing antibodies to fight off the problem, in turn causing the side effects of the condition that can make your dog miserable and uncomfortable.

The symptoms of hay fever in dogs

The exact symptoms that any dog will display and how severe they are will vary on a case by case basis, but the most common indications of the condition include:

  • Sneezing, often repeatedly.
  • A runny nose.
  • Red, runny and itchy eyes.
  • Pruritus (itching) all over the body.
  • A rash on the face and paws.
  • Excessive scratching of the skin, which may cause hair loss and/or sore patches.
  • Hay fever in dogs will sometimes only manifest as a skin reaction, and so the absence of sneezing and other symptoms that we normally associate with hay fever in people does not necessarily mean that hay fever is not the cause of the problem for your dog.

What dogs are most affected with hay fever?

Hay fever is a seasonal condition, which is rarely seen in the winter, but can affect dogs in spring, summer and early autumn. If your dog’s reactions and discomfort seem to follow the patterns of the rising pollen counts reported on your local weather station, hay fever may well be the cause.

Hay fever can develop at any age, although it most commonly presents for the first time before the age of three. While any breed or type of dog can potentially develop hay fever, some breeds seem to be particularly prone to it, including:

  • The Cairn terrier
  • The Boston terrier
  • The Irish setter
  • The Dalmatian
  • Poodles of all sizes
  • Schnauzers of all sizes
  • The wire-haired terrier
  • The West Highland terrier

Can hay fever be cured or treated?

There is no way to cure hay fever and stop your dog from suffering from the problem permanently, but there are some steps that you can take to make life easier for them. Usually in the case or allergenic conditions, removing the source of the allergy is the most effective way of resolving the problem, but of course with hay fever, this is not possible! Nevertheless, you can ensure that you do not keep flowers and plants in the house, and keep your dog out of the way when you cut the lawn in order to reduce their exposure to triggers at home.

Some of the best ways of helping a dog with hay fever include:

  • Consulting with your vet, who may prescribe an antihistamine to your dog to make them more comfortable. For dogs that have a very pronounced reaction to hay fever, anti-allergenic injections may be needed too.
  • Wiping your dog’s coat off when they come in from a walk.
  • Clipping your dog’s coat if their fur is thick or long.
  • Choosing the areas that you walk your dog in carefully to avoid plants and cut grass as much as possible.
  • Walking your dog early in the morning or in the evening when the pollen count is lower.
  • Using a HEPA filter within the home to remove pollen particles from the air.
  • Bathing your dog’s skin regularly to remove pollen.
  • Washing your dog’s bedding and any soft furnishings on a weekly basis to remove pollen.