Hay fever season is officially in full swing, with millions of people in the UK suffering from the annoying condition.
When flowers start to release pollen, it can cause an allergic reaction which has symptoms similar to those of a cold.
But as we grab our tissues and tablets to deal with the irritation, many of us are wondering whether our pets can react to pollen too.
So, can dogs and cats get hay fever? Here is everything you need to know.
Can dogs and cats get hay fever?
The cause of allergies in pets is actually the same as it is in humans.
This means that pets can become irritated by high pollen counts, too.
Cats and dogs can even have allergies to more than one thing.
However, just like humans there is unfortunately no cure for a pet with hay fever.
What are the signs of pet hay fever?
Although both humans and pets can be allergic to pollen and suffer during hay fever season, the signs of irritation are a little different.
In humans, a runny nose, watery eyes and feeling short of breath are sure signs of allergies.
But if a dog or cat is allergic to pollen, they may:
- Lick or bite their paws
- Excessively scratch
- Develop red skin around the eyes, ears and between paws
- Shake their head
- Rub their ears of muzzle
- Appear tired and lethargic on days with high pollen counts.
If your pet seems to be showing any of these signs, you should take them to the vet.
But it is important to note that some symptoms of hay fever in cats and dogs can also be signs of other, unrelated health issues.
What are the treatments?
If your vet diagnoses your pet with a pollen allergy, they could recommend medication to help to manage their symptoms during hay fever season, according to the Met Office.
But as your dog or cat could be allergic to more than one thing, it is also common to be advised to try a food-elimination trial to rule out anything that is linked to diet.
And it is vitally important not to try any home remedies or to give any medication to your pet before you’ve seen your vet.
Some human antihistamines are toxic to dogs and cats - so only give your pet these medicines if your vet has instructed you to do so, advises the Blue Cross.
Instead, common treatments include medicated ear and eye drops and specially-designed antihistamines.
Furthermore, essential fatty acid supplements may also help to treat a pet with hay fever.
Hay fever in dogs can also be managed according to what time you take them for their walk – the Blue Cross advises walking your dog early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid high pollen counts at around midday.
You should also try to keep your dog’s ears clean and wipe their fur, skin and paws down with a damp cloth to remove excess pollen after a walk.
Wash their bedding regularly, and use an air filter system to help with the allergy in the house. Finally, hoover your house often.