With may of us enjoying more time outside, hay fever is prevelent this time of year, but it’s not just us humans that can suffer.
Many might not realise that our poor pets can suffer with seasonal allergies too. As a result of the pandemic, it’s recently been reported that hay fever is set to be worse this year – with those who suffer from pollen allergies likely to experience more severe symptoms in light of the lockdowns and our isolating indoors.
With doctors even warning that people who previously haven’t endured hay fever before could fall victim for the first time. Something which is also a concern for our cats and dogs.
Dr Scott Miller, TV Personality and Resident Veterinarian for Natusan, comments: “Allergic rhinitis – most commonly known as hay fever – is effectively an allergic reaction to pollen; the fine powder from plants. It’s usually experienced during the warmer months when the pollen count is high – predominantly between late March and into September.
“With the pandemic leading to a nationwide puppy boom, there are many young cats and dogs across the country who have spent a vast proportion of their formative years indoors, and as a result, won’t have been exposed to the great outdoors as much. Which makes them more vulnerable to hay fever – as they will have a lower tolerance to pollen.
“As humans, we’re more likely to inhale pollen, but not only can our animals inhale it – their skin can also come into contact from being outdoors and walking through grass – causing severe discomfort to their skin. So dogs and outdoor cats can be very vulnerable. Pets can display different symptoms of hay fever than humans do, so it’s important to be aware of the signs to look out for.”
Dr Scott Miller shares his expert advice around how to tell if your pet is suffering from hay fever, with top tips around how to help.
How to tell if my dog or cat has hay fever – the tell-tale signs to look out for:
Excessive grooming in cats or body biting in dogs: Pets who are allergic to pollen are susceptible to suffering with skin irritation. As a result, cats could groom and lick themselves more regularly – or more fiercely – in a bid to soothe themselves. Whereas dogs are more prone to biting or rubbing themselves.
Skin scratching: Like humans, cats and dogs can also be plagued with the sensation of itchiness – which they will reactively look to scratch as a solution.
Bald patches & sores: Excessive scratching can lead to visible sores on their skin and even bald patches of fur from the friction caused.
Sounds such as sneezing or snoring: It might be unusual to hear certain sounds coming from your pet – but listen out for sneezing, wheezing, snoring or coughing – as these could indicate they’re experiencing inflammation in the throat from hay fever.
Itchy or watering eyes: A symptom in which we can all relate to. Pets can also be prone to itchy and runny eyes – just as we do – when afflicted with seasonal allergies.
Pay attention to their paws: cats could chew at their paws, whereas rashes can manifest on your pooch’s paws – so keep an eye out for irritation.
How to get ahead and help mitigate hay fever in pets
Look out for the pollen count: First and foremost, get into the habit of checking the pollen forecast daily. That way, you’ll know which days are particularly high and can try to keep them indoors, or change your walking route to avoid grassy locations.
Where and when to go for walks: Dogs love their walks and cats like to roam. So keeping them locked up inside isn’t an entirely practical solution. So look to be strategic when it comes to outings. Generally, pollen count is considered to be lowest in the morning – so aim to let them out or schedule a walk earlier in the day. And keep an eye on the weather! A blustery windy day will only blow the pollen particles around and enhance symptoms.
Wash your pets’ paws & coats before they come inside: Cats and canines can carry pollen on their paws and their fur into the house. So if they’ve been out and about, make sure to wipe down their pads and give their coats a wash to avoid pollen particles entering the home.
Avoid flowers in the home: Yes, flowers are a lovely aesthetic addition to the home, however, they can really wreak havoc when it comes to pets and allergies! So try to avoid having arrangements in the house if your pet is prone to hay fever.
Stay on top of spring cleaning: To try and avoid pollen and dust particles building up in the house which can aggravate allergies, look to hoover the floors frequently and wipe down surfaces and sides where dust can collect. Also look to wash your pets bedding on a high heat too.
Keep your garden groomed: Also look to regularly get the lawn mower out in the garden to keep the grass cut short. Try to stay on top of the weeding too.
How to help your pet suffering with symptoms
Get to the vet: First and foremost, if your pet is being afflicted from allergies – or even if you think they might be suffering – please ensure that you speak to your Vet immediately. As they can help with a course of treatment to sooth symptoms of hay fever and recommended remedies. They can also cancel out anything more sinister – such as fleas or ‘Dry Eye’; a condition more common in dogs which also manifests in irritation of the eyes.
Don’t give them human antihistamines: It can be heartbreaking to watch your pet suffer, however, self medicating without Veterinary advice can be to the detriment of your pet – even when similar medications are used for both humans and animals. Doses vary greatly between species, so it is always worth asking your Vet to prescribe suitable medications at a suitable dose for your allergic pet.
Treatments available: There are various options available which your vet might recommend or prescribe. These could vary from medical eye drops and nasal sprays to injections. There are also creams and shampoos which can help with skin irritation.
Rachel Andre, Director of sustainable cat litter brand, Natusan adds: “Our pets do so much to support us and enhance our wellbeing – and it’s paramount that we do the same for them. The last thing anyone wants is to see their furry friend suffering – so making sure they’re comfortable and happy is incredibly important. At Natusan, we always look to help conscious pet parents, from working with our Resident Vet, Dr Scott to provide informative guides – to offering our 100% natural and biodegradable tight-clumping cat litter, which is not only highly absorbent to eliminate odours but also works to reduce waste.”