When pollen levels peak, they don’t just trigger allergies in humans, but in pets too. Some hay fever symptoms can be similar to those that us humans suffer with, but there are subtle differences to watch out for in your four-legged friends.
Read on to discover what hay fever in dogs and cats can look like, and the best remedies for pet allergies.
Can cats get hay fever?
If you’ve found your feline friend sneezing along with you, it may beg the question, can cats get hay fever? The short answer is, unfortunately yes.
Similar to humans, cats may experience cold-like symptoms such as a watery eyes and bouts of sneezing. But there are additional symptoms that can make it hard to diagnose the condition, mainly skin irritations.
Hay fever in cats can be either seasonal or environmental. Seasonal allergies are caused by flowers, plants and certain grasses releasing different types of pollen into the air, which causes an allergic reaction – also known as pollen allergies.
Environmental allergies, on the other hand, can be caused by a variety of different allergens, including mould, dust, pollen, fungi, perfumes and some cleaning products. Some indoor cats can suffer with from this type of allergy all year round.
Do dogs get hay fever?
You may notice your dog sniffling during those early morning walks, and that’s because they can also suffer with hay fever. In fact, up to 10% of dogs in the UK experience hay fever to some extent.
Dogs with hay fever may experience similar symptoms to humans, and they can vary in severity. This can be environmental or seasonal – both causing sneezing, watery eyes, excessive scratching and more.
Research has suggested that hay fever in dogs is more likely to develop early on. If dogs aren’t exposed to a variety of grasses and plants during their puppy years, they are prone to sensitivity to these kinds of pollens in their later years.
So, while sensitivity can develop at any age, it’s more likely that your canine companion will show signs of hay fever when they are young.
Symptoms of hay fever in cats
Some of the most common signs of hay fever in cats are runny eyes and sneezing.
Other signs your cat may be suffering from hay fever include:
- Paw chewing
- Coughing and sneezing
- Bald patches and alopecia
But, there are more severe skin conditions caused by hay fever in cats, such as atopic dermatitis. If this occurs, it’s best to contact your vet immediately.
Symptoms of hay fever in dogs
Dogs with hay fever may experience similar symptoms, such as frequent sneezing and itchy eyes.
Some other common symptoms of hay fever in dogs include:
- Excessive scratching
- Sensitive paws
- Redness of the skin
- Sneezing and runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Rashes on the paws or face
It’s important to remember that irritated or runny eyes doesn’t always mean hay fever for dogs. This could also be a symptom of dry eye – which occurs when your dog is unable to produce tears effectively.
How to reduce signs of hay fever in cats and dogs
Whether or not your pet is prone to hay fever, it’s important to take steps to reduce the effects of pollen allergies.
If possible, try to work out what time of year he or she is most affected. Generally, hay fever symptoms can appear in your pets between March and August. The type(s) of pollen your pet is sensitive to include:
- Tree pollen: between March and April
- Grass pollen: between May and July
- Flowering weeds: between June and August
Knowing what time of year your pet’s allergies are at their worst can help you to plan ahead and avoid certain locations where pollen is high. Checking the pollen forecast before a trip outside will also help you to prepare.
But you can’t keep your pet indoors forever. They still need regular exercise, and a few laps around the garden can only do so much.
Other things you can do to limit the chances of hay fever in dogs and cats include:
- Avoid walking your dog in early morning or late evening
- Keep dogs on a lead near grass
- Wipe their paws and muzzle after every walk
- Wash them weekly
- Clean their bedding frequently
- Groom them regularly
- Keep your cat indoors when pollen count is high
- Dust and hoover cat beds and blankets
- Clean cat toys regularly
It’s also worth adding a skin supplement or oil to their food. This can help to improve the strength of their skin barrier to pollen, and reduce symptoms of the allergy.
Treatment for cats and dogs with hay fever
While there is no cure for hay fever in dogs and cats, there are topical treatments available that can help soothe their symptoms. These can come in the form of:
- Eye drops
- Nasal sprays
- Medicated shampoo
Your vet can administer injections in more severe cases. But for manageable cases, they may recommend a food elimination trial, which can help to rule out certain foods that may trigger an allergic reaction.
Antihistamines can be administered daily to prevent allergic reactions in dogs, however, they may not be as effective as other treatment. Steroids and other hay fever tablets for dogs can help relieve itching and reduce skin inflammation.
For cats, corticosteroids are often prescribed to help alleviate hay fever symptoms. Cortisone, or steroids, contain anti-inflammatories, which are effective for suppressing an allergic reaction. These are available in tablets, creams or allergy injections.
What to do if your pet is diagnosed with a pollen allergy
If your pet is diagnosed with a pollen allergy, it’s important to avoid giving them any medication without a prescription, or using any home remedies. This can be dangerous in the wrong doses, or for certain species and breeds.
As temperatures rise and your eyes start to water, consider if your pet is experiencing the same thing. With a number of treatments available, you can say goodbye to pollen troubles and keep the snuffles at bay.
Be sure to check pollen levels in your area with our Pollen Pal tracker before your summer adventures.