Can Dogs Get Hay fever And What Are The Symptoms?
Hay fever affects humans for around six months of the year but can dogs get hay fever? Yes, they can, and it’s probably more common than you think.
If you have ever suffered with it, you’ll know it can be a nuisance and is quite debilitating for some. Unfortunately, the same can go for your doggo.
However, while both the allergic reactions in humans and woofs are caused by pollen, the dogs experience hay fever in very different ways, and with very different hay fever symptoms.
Add to this the fact that dogs just love to sniff around and explore the great outdoors whenever they get the chance, especially throughout the warmer months and you soon realise that those furballs who do suffer from canine hay fever will be feeling very uncomfortable.
So what is Hay Fever in dogs?
Hay fever is an allergy to pollen, either from trees, grass or weeds. When the pollen comes into contact with a dog’s skin, it can cause an allergic reaction.
Around 10% of our woofs are thought to suffer from hay fever with some breeds more susceptible than others (Irish Setters, Poodles, West Highland Terriers, Schnauzers, Scottish Terriers and Dalmatians).
It's also good to note that that dogs who were not exposed to the great outdoors so much in their early life (including exposure to grass, trees and plants, etc) could be more prone to suffer from canine hay fever, due to a developing a lower tolerance.
Research states that “April to September each year can be particularly challenging for dogs that are prone to canine 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.”
What are Hay Fever Symptoms in Dogs?
Dogs who suffer with canine hay fever (known as atopic dermatitis, or atopycan) share our symptoms of sneezing, itchy and runny eyes, and runny nose.
They are also likely to have a skin reaction which shows itself as persistently itchy skin, especially around the face, armpits, groin, legs, stomach and bottom.
The frequent scratching may result in:
- Sore, flaky skin
- Some bald patches from excessive nibbling, biting and grooming.
However, if your dog keeps sneezing, that’s probably not hay fever. Sneezing could instead be indicative of a different irritation, like dust, or something being stuck in the nose or throat.
Also, a frequent health issue recognised by many pet owners is the runny, irritated eyes visible with your pet. Often, this symptom is misdiagnosed as canine hay fever, but it's more likely the problem lies in foreign bodies getting in, or scratching, the surface of the eye.
If you see any of the above symptoms developing in your dog, it's best to visit your vet and seek advice. These symptoms could be signs of other health issues, or it could be dog hay fever, so it’s important to receive a professional diagnosis if you are concerned.
How Can I Tell if my Dog Has Hay Fever?
If your dog develops any of the symptoms above, usually from a young age, it is possible they may have hay fever. Or it could be an allergy to fleas or dust mites.
It’s important to remember that your woof doesn’t need to display every symptom listed above to have canine hay fever.
The only way to know for sure is to visit your vet and have an allergy test.
Can Dogs Have Antihistamines For Canine Hay Fever?
Vets can prescribe antihistamines which may or may not be effective. You should only ever give prescribed antihistamines to your dog and never those meant for human consumption as these could be toxic to dogs.
Antihistamines are usually safe but they can make some dogs drowsy and others hyperactive.
However, it might not help cure your dog's symptoms, but it is worth trying.
According to the American Animal Hospital "Antihistamines are one more tool in our arsenal against pet allergies. Allergies can be a very frustrating problem for owners, and veterinarians, because no one treatment works for everyone. Just like each pet’s allergies are a little bit different, individual pets also respond differently to each type of antihistamine. Unfortunately, this makes for some trial-&-error in determining what is going to work best for your furry friend to help keep the itchies in check. The good news is that antihistamines are relatively inexpensive and most are readily available over the counter at human pharmacies."
How Else Can I Treat Hay Fever in my Dog?
If you suspect your dog has hay fever, you can start by walking them early or late in the day when the pollen counts are lower.
Wipe down their fur, ears and paws when you get home and frequently wash bedding. Try and keep doors and windows closed during high pollen times and vacuum regularly.
If possible, keep longer fur trimmed to reduce the amount of pollen that might cling to it.
Your vet can advise on skin creams, nasal sprays and medicated eye and ear drops. Wipes and ear cleaner are available.
Can Raw Dog Food Help with my Dog’s Hay Fever?
The easy answer to this question is a resounding 'YES'. You can definitely help with the overall condition of your dog’s skin, coat and improved health of your woof by checking the dog food you feed it.
Raw dog food is particularly beneficial at boosting the immune system to combat allergies, managing skin complaints and soothing itches. And you get a very happy dog as a result.
From the Benyfit Natural range, we would highly recommend Tasty Turkey Complete Adult Raw Working Dog Food and Meat Feast Turkey Complete Adult Raw Working Dog Food as these are both excellent choices for dogs with allergies and itchy skin.
A wholesome raw dog food diet is free from grain, a common cause of skin complaints which can exacerbate any hay fever symptoms.
Finally: How Long Does Hay Fever Last?
In the UK, our tree pollen season lasts from the end of March to mid-May, followed by grass pollen to July, and weed pollen from the end of June to September.
The time of year your dog suffers will give you an idea of the type of pollen they are allergic to. If they show allergy-type symptoms outside of the pollen season, it may be that they’re allergic to something else. It’s always worth getting them tested to be sure.
If you suspect your dog has hay fever, you could keep a diary of the times when you go out and whether their symptoms are better or worse.
If you see a pattern emerging, try and avoid whatever it is that is making symptoms worse and consult your vet regarding an allergy test.