Can Dogs Get Hay Fever? A Complete Guide
By: Lisa Smith | Sep 24, 2021
It’s not just humans who suffer in the summer months with stuffy noses and wet eyes, our furry friends can suffer too but in a different way. Yes, believe it or not, dogs can get hay fever, and it’s more common than you might think. “About 10 percent of dogs have allergies,” says Sandra Diaz, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. “Allergies we cannot cure. We just manage them and keep them under control so the animal can have a good quality of life.” Here’s what you need to know to help your pup, including spotting the signs and treatment options.
Hay Fever Symptoms in Dogs
Maybe you’ve noticed your dog scratching themselves more frequently than usual. Or, maybe they’re licking their paws more than normal. If so, you may be wondering if your canine friend is suffering from hay fever, too? The answer is yes! Unfortunately, the signs of hay fever in dogs are often different to the ones in humans. The most notable symptom is skin irritation. This often occurs around the face, ears, paws and belly. If you notice your dog scratching these areas in the spring and summer months, a pollen allergy could be the culprit.
Signs to Look Out For:
- Excessive scratching
- Red skin – check around the eyes, ears and between paws
- Head shaking
- Licking or biting their paws
- Scratching their ears or muzzle
- Fatigue, especially when pollen count is high
If You Think Your Dog Has Hay Fever
It’s important to know that allergies can be dangerous for cats and dogs, but not knowing the cause of them is equally concerning. If your cat or dog is showing any of the signs listed above, take them to see your vet. Yes, some of the symptoms outlined can also be signs of other health issues, so your vet may want to rule these out before considering allergies. If an allergy is diagnosed, it’s not always clear what the cause is. That said, if your dog’s symptoms are at their worst in the summer months, hay fever may be strongly suspected.
How to Treat Hay Fever in Dogs
The best way to treat hay fever in dogs is with specialised medication that can be obtained from your vet. While you can give antihistamines to your pooch, they may not prevent itchiness as effectively in dogs as they do in people.
Your vet may prescribe your dog corticosteroids such as prednisolone, a powerful anti-inflammatory. These steroids reduce itchiness and make your canine companion more comfortable. However, it should be noted that while steroids are a cost-effective option, they’re not necessarily the best choice. They can induce side-effects, which include increased appetite, thinning of the skin, and a higher risk of diabetes or Cushing’s disease to name a few.
Newer Dog Hay Fever Medication
Fortunately, there are a host of safer medication options available from your vet when treating your dog’s pollen allergy. Among these sophisticated meds are oclacitinib (brand name Apoquel) and cyclosporine (brand name Atopica). Like steroids, these relieve inflammation with much less cause for concern. The only downside is cost, so this option may not suit all budgets.
Another option is Cytopoint injections. This non-drug, biological treatment blocks signals to the brain that tells the dog it’s itchy. One injection will control your pup’s symptoms for 4 to 8 weeks, and it’s safe for dogs of all ages. Pricing depends on how large your dog is, however it begins at just $35 for a 10-milligram vial.
According to the dog experts at Pup Junkies, allergen immunotherapy is another way to address pollen allergies. Commonly referred to as allergy shots, treatment involves injecting small amounts of the allergen gradually, until a tolerance level is reached. While this method is an effective way to treat allergies – and can even abolish your dog’s hay fever permanently – it’s also the most expensive. It’s also not a quick-fix, as the results can take a year to show. There is also no effectiveness guarantee. According to Canine and Feline Practice specialist Wendy Brooks, only half of dogs that receive the treatment will have excellent results. 25% will have a mediocre response, while the remaining 25% will have no response at all.
Managing Hay Fever in Dogs
Aside from treatment, there are a few things you can do to help your pooch live their best doggy life during the summer months:
- After a walk, wipe your dog’s fur and skin with a damp cloth to prevent pollen build-up
- Use an air-filter to decrease symptoms in the house
- Walk your dog either early in the morning or later in the evening. Pollen count is at its peak around midday
- Vacuum often to remove excess pollen from carpets
- Remove flowers and plants in the house
- Wash your dog’s bedding regularly
Unfortunately, our dogs do get hay fever (even cats suffer from allergies). Thankfully, there are many options to help your pooch through those uncomfortable months. Remember to stay on-top of your dog’s flea treatment and consult your vet for the best allergy medication for your pooch while also implementing non-pharmacological strategies to minimize irritation.
Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.