Spring and summer can smell misery for some people. Hay fever sufferers face months of sniffing, sneezing and sore eyes. In the worst cases, sufferers are unable to leave their homes. At least there are antihistamines available to ease hay fever symptoms. But what about dogs? Could your pooch have hay fever?
Dogs and hay fever
Dogs can get hay fever, just like humans! The condition usually manifests itself before a dog is three years old but can appear at any age. As many as 10% of all dogs in the UK are thought to suffer from the condition to at least some degree and their owners may not have noticed.
Canine hay fever is not restricted to dogs which live in the countryside. It can also afflict urban pooches who live in areas where there a few open spaces. The allergens which cause the symptoms vary but pollen is the main offender. Dogs may also react badly to dander, dust, grass and other plant matter. Whilst symptoms usually appear in spring and summer, dogs can also suffer from hay fever in early autumn.
So, what symptoms should you look out for if you suspect your dog may have hay fever?
Does your dog have hay fever?
The symptoms of the condition are as follows:
• Sneezing, often repeatedly
• A runny nose
• Red, runny and itchy eyes
• Itching all over the body
• A rash on the face and/or paws
• Excessive scratching of the skin
• Hair loss or sores caused by scratching
In dogs, hay fever could manifest itself as a skin condition only and so the absence of sneezing and the other symptoms we would normally associate with the condition does mean that you can rule it out as an issue for your pooch. If you are in any doubt, consult your vet for a diagnosis.
Treating canine hay fever
Your vet may be able to prescribe antihistamines to alleviate the symptoms, but there are also a few things you can do to make your pet’s life more comfortable. Brush down their coat after a walk to minimise the amount of pollen they bring into the house. If they have long fur, trim it back to reduce the number of allergens that could get caught up in it. Keep the house dusted and windows closed when there is a high pollen count. Bathe your pooch regularly and ensure that their bedding is always clean.
Which dogs can get hay fever?
Any breed of dog can suffer from hay fever, but some breeds are more prone to the condition than others. The following breeds are the most likely to suffer from hay fever:
The Cairn terrier
The Boston terrier
The Irish setter
Poodles of all sizes
Schnauzers of all sizes
The wire-haired terrier
The West Highland terrier
If your dog is sneezing, has a runny nose or appears to be itching, they just might have hay fever. See your vet as soon as possible and follow their advice.