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Can Dogs Get Hayfever? Understanding Your Pooch's Allergies - PawSafe
Dog Healthcare

Can Dogs Get Hayfever? Understanding Your Pooch’s Allergies

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

can dogs get hayfever

With the arrival of spring and summer, we often prepare ourselves to battle the pesky symptoms of hay fever, so the question arises: can dogs get hay fever? As dog owners and lovers, we always want to ensure our pups are comfortable and healthy. Finding out any allergic reactions your dog may have will help them make the most out of this vibrant but allergy-ridden season.

Dr. Elia Tait Wojno, Ph.D. in Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, acknowledges the prevalence of canine seasonal allergies. She states that with all the symptoms like gastrointestinal upset, itching, and sneezing, your beloved pet’s quality of life is impeded.

We will talk about hay fever in dogs. We will discuss the symptoms and how to help them feel better. To keep our pets happy and healthy, we must understand the details of this issue.

We can keep our pets comfortable and healthy during allergy season by recognizing the signs of seasonal allergies. These reactions will make your dog sound congested and make them overall very uncomfortable. You would know if you get these seasonal flare-ups.

To prevent this condition in our dogs, we can take steps like wiping their paws after walks and using air purifiers in our homes. We should also talk to a vet about allergy medications if necessary. But let’s dig a little deeper into how this problem manifests in canines.

What Is Hayfever

Hayfever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a common allergic condition that affects people and animals all around the world. The body reacts to pollen, a powdery substance plants release during their reproductive cycle.

As the seasons change and plants start to reproduce, they release pollen into the air. When we breathe in this pollen, our immune system mistakenly identifies it as a harmful substance. When this happens, it sets off an allergic reaction. This releases chemicals like histamine. The histamine then causes symptoms of the reaction.

 According to Dr. James Fernandez, MD, PhD in the MSD Manual, hay fever symptoms mainly affect the nose lining. This is why it’s called allergic rhinitis. Sometimes, the condition can also show up on the eyelid membrane. If that happens, it’s called allergic conjunctivitis.

There are two main types of seasonal allergies:

  1. Seasonal reactions happen when plants release pollen at certain times of the year. For instance, tree pollen is common in the spring, while grass pollen is more prevalent in the summer.
  2. Perennial allergies occur all year and are caused by indoor allergens like dust mites or animal dander.

A PMC study conveys symptoms of hay fever as listed below. These can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Sneezing and wheezing;
  • Licking and chewing the paws;
  • Itchy, red, or watery eyes;
  • Bumps on the body (hives);
  • Runny or stuffy nose;
  • Itchy throat, mouth, or ears; and
  • Coughing.

Environmental Factors Surrounding Allergic Rhinitis

Environmental factors can also contribute to the development of seasonal reactions in canines. Some of these factors include.

  1. Dogs that spend more time outdoors are more likely to come into contact with allergens. Allergens include pollen, mold, and other substances that can cause this problem.
  2. Seasonal changes affect dogs with allergic rhinitis, especially in spring and summer when pollen is high.
  3. Dogs in cities may be exposed to more pollutants and allergens, which can cause allergies.

During pollen season, many dogs have these symptoms. Remember, each dog reacts differently to the allergy. If you think your dog has this condition, it’s a good idea to see a vet for diagnosis and treatment.

A Dog’s Immune System In Relation to Allergies

Dogs, like us, have immune systems. Immune systems protect dogs from harmful substances like bacteria, viruses, and allergens. Allergic reactions occur when our immune system sees foreign substances as threatening.

Now, when it comes to allergens like pollen, the immune system can sometimes overreact. This causes the symptoms of seasonal allergies in humans, and it also happens in dogs. Here’s a simple explanation of the process:

  1. The dog inhales pollen particles.
  2. The immune system recognizes the pollen as foreign and harmful.
  3. It responds by releasing histamines and other chemicals like histamines.
  4. These chemicals cause familiar symptoms, such as itchiness, sneezing, and inflammation.

Certain dogs are more prone to this issue because of their genes. This section explains why.

Genetic Factors

Some dog breeds are more prone to allergic rhinitis than others due to their genetic makeup. Breeds that are more likely to suffer from pollen hypersensitivity include:

  • Golden Retrievers;
  • Labradors;
  • West Highland White Terriers;
  • Wirehaired Fox Terriers;
  • Boxers;
  • Dalmatians; and
  • Chinese Shar-peis.

It’s important to remember that any breed can develop this issue, but these breeds have a higher risk due to their genetics.

Common Allergens in Dogs

Let’s explore common allergens that can affect dogs and cause hay fever-like symptoms.

Environmental Allergens

Dogs can get symptoms from outdoor allergens when they touch them. Some examples include:

  • Pollen is released by trees, grasses, and weeds when they bloom. Dogs can easily breathe it in.
  • Mold spores are found in damp places. They can float in the air and cause breathing problems in dogs.
  • Dust mites are tiny creatures that live in household dust. Dogs can have an allergic reaction if they inhale them.

Food Allergens

Some dogs may develop food allergies, which can cause symptoms similar to seasonal allergies. Common food allergens include:

  • Protein Sources: Certain meats, including beef, chicken, or pork, may cause an allergic reaction in some dogs. In fact, animal proteins are the most common dog food allergies. You can have your dog tested for food allergies, and if they are allergic to chicken, it’s best to avoid poultry altogether and choose either fish or beef protein instead.
  • Dairy: Some dogs are allergic to lactose and may react to dairy products.
  • Grains: Ingredients such as wheat, corn, soy, and rice may be problematic for some dogs.

Contact Allergens

When allergens touch a dog’s skin, they can trigger an allergic reaction. Examples include:

  1. A common cause of allergies in dogs, flea saliva can lead to itching and discomfort.
  2. Some dogs may react to chemicals found in household cleaning items.
  3. Certain dogs can have sensitivities to fabrics and materials such as synthetic fibers, wool, or rubber.

To find out what might be causing allergies in your dog, talk to your vet. They can run tests and give a diagnosis. When you find out what your dog is allergic to, you can make changes to their environment and diet. This will help them feel better.

Symptoms & Signs: How Do I Know If My Dog Has Hayfever?

As dog owners, we understand that it’s essential to keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort in our canines. Let’s talk about the signs that your dog might have a pollen allergy.

  1. Itchiness is one of the primary symptoms of allergies in dogs. You might see your dog scratching more, rubbing their face on the ground or furniture, and biting their paws or legs.
  2. sneezing or coughing. Dogs with this problem may sneeze often. They might also have nasal discharge and cough or gag. This happens when their throat feels irritated.
  3. Eyes can also be affected, and in such cases, our dogs may show symptoms like redness in the eyes, watery or itchy eyes, and frequent squinting or blinking.
  1. In some cases, dogs with might also have skin issues due to their constant scratching. You may find red or inflamed skin, rashes or small bumps, and hair loss in certain areas
  2. Lastly, dogs with this issue may have trouble breathing. So, it’s important to watch their breathing. If your dog breathes rapidly or shallowly, wheezes or breathes noisily, or flares its nostrils, it may be struggling to breathe.

If your dog has allergic rhinitis symptoms, other conditions might cause similar signs.

Diagnosis of Hay fever in Dogs

After noticing the above signs, the veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your dog. They may ask for information about your dog’s medical history, environment, and lifestyle. Having this information ready will help the vet find out what’s causing your dog’s symptoms.

Blood tests and intradermal skin tests are typically utilized to test for hay fever in dogs. Here’s a brief overview of these tests:

  1. Blood Tests: These tests measure the levels of certain antibodies in your dog’s blood. A high level of a specific antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) can indicate an allergic reaction.
  2. Intradermal Skin Tests: This involves injecting small amounts of allergens under your dog’s skin to observe any allergic reactions. The area is monitored for redness and swelling to determine which allergens, if any, your dog is sensitive to.

After these tests, your veterinarian will analyze the results and provide a diagnosis. If seasonal allergies are confirmed, they will discuss treatment options and guide you on best managing your dog’s allergic reactions. 

Treatment and Management

There are several ways to help your dog with hayfever. One simple step is focusing on gut health. Studies suggest that adding kefir to your dog’s diet can help protect them from allergies. You can also speak to your vet about medicines.

Medication

The vet may prescribe medications such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, or allergy shots depending on the severity of your dog’s condition. Below is a brief list of medications often used to treat hay fever in dogs:

  • Antihistamines: help control sneezing, itching, and runny nose.
  • Corticosteroids: reduce inflammation and can be administered orally or topically.
  • Allergy shots: specific allergens are identified through testing, and small doses are injected regularly to help the dog develop an immune response.

Always follow the dosage instructions provided by your veterinarian and monitor your dog for any side effects.

Lastly, when other approaches don’t seem to help, we may need to discuss more advanced options with our veterinarian. They may suggest immunotherapy (allergy shots or oral drops) as a long-term solution to improve our dog’s tolerance to pollen allergens and enhance their quality of life. 

What Can I Give My Dog for Pollen Allergies?

First and foremost, antihistamines might be a great solution for treating our dog’s pollen allergies. Some of the most common over-the-counter antihistamines that are safe for dogs include:

  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine);
  • Claritin (Loratadine); and
  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine).

Keep in mind that it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian for proper dosages before administering any medication to our dogs. Their guidance will ensure the safety and effectiveness of these treatments.

Another approach to mitigate pollen allergies is through topical treatments. If our dogs are experiencing itchy skin, we can try using hypoallergenic shampoos or sprays specifically designed for dogs that contain soothing ingredients such as:

  • Aloe Vera;
  • Oatmeal;
  • Calendula; and
  • Hydrocortisone.

These products can help calm the irritation and provide some relief from their allergy symptoms.

Home Remedies For Canine Hay fever

As dog owners, we know how much our canines love to explore the great outdoors. However, some dogs suffer from pollen reactions, which can cause them discomfort and distress. In this section, we’ll share some home remedies that can help alleviate your dog’s symptoms.

  1. Incorporating natural supplements into your dog’s diet can also be beneficial in managing symptoms. Here’s a list of some supplements that can help:
  • Quercetin: A natural antihistamine found in fruits and vegetables.
  • Bromelain: An enzyme found in pineapples, known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fish oil, these fatty acids can reduce inflammation and improve skin health.
  • Probiotics can help support gut health, which is linked to the immune system. A healthy gut may contribute to a more robust immune response. 
  • Chamomile and nettle tea.
  • Oatmeal baths. Some even recommend diluting apple cider vinegar and water (50/50 mix and giving them a bath due to the acetic acid.
  1. Another remedy is to use an over-the-counter saline nasal spray to help flush out your dog’s nasal passages. This can help relieve itchiness and congestion. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before administering any nasal sprays, as some may not be suitable for dogs.
  2. We also suggest creating a comfortable environment for your pooch during the hayfever season. Keep windows closed on high-pollen days, and use a HEPA air purifier to help reduce allergens inside your home. It can also help to regularly wash your dog’s bedding in hot water to remove pollen and allergens.
  3. Finally, try to avoid walking your dog during peak pollen hours. It’s typically best to schedule walks and outdoor playtime for early mornings or evenings when the pollen count is lower.

Remember, always consult with your veterinarian before attempting any home remedies to ensure they are a safe and effective option. Implementing these helpful tips can greatly improve your dog’s comfort and well-being during the hayfever season.

Prevention Strategies

Here are some strategies we can implement to minimize the risk and help them be more comfortable during allergy seasons.

Keep the environment clean

  • Regularly clean their bedding, toys, and food dishes with soapy water.
  • Vacuum the house frequently, especially in areas where the dog hangs out the most.
  • Air purifiers: Invest in a high-quality air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove airborne allergens from your home.
  • Close windows.

Grooming

  • Bathe our dog using a mild, hypoallergenic dog shampoo.
  • Brush their coat regularly to remove loose hair and allergens.
  • Keep the fur around their eyes and nose trimmed to prevent allergen build-up.

Minimize outdoor exposure

  • Avoid going for long walks during peak pollen hours, typically in the morning and late afternoon.
  • Try to walk them on pavements or grass-free areas to minimize contact with allergens.
  • After outside walks or playing, make sure to wipe our dog’s paws and face to remove any allergens they may have picked up.

Consult with a veterinarian

If our dog is showing symptoms of hay fever, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian for their expert advice and treatment options. They may suggest medications or prescribe creams to relieve itching and counter the effects of the allergic reaction.

By following these prevention strategies, we can help ensure that our beloved pets stay as comfortable and healthy as possible during allergy seasons. It’s essential to be attentive to their needs and proactively take action when necessary.

When to See a Vet

Mild Symptoms:

  • Sneezing;
  • Runny or itchy nose;
  • Itchy, watery eyes; and
  • Occasional coughing.

For such mild symptoms, over-the-counter antihistamines may be sufficient. However, make sure to consult your vet before administering any medication to your pet.

Severe Symptoms:

  1. Excessive scratching, leading to skin damage;
  2. Facial swelling;
  3. Difficulty breathing; and
  4. Hives or rash.

If your dog experiences any of the above severe symptoms, or if their mild symptoms persist despite your best efforts, it’s essential to seek professional advice from your veterinarian.

If your dog has never exhibited these symptoms before, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit to the vet. The vet can help confirm whether your dog has an allergy and prescribe the most suitable treatment.

Remember, in extreme cases, untreated allergic rhinitis can progress into more severe conditions such as bronchitis or asthma. Don’t wait too long before contacting your vet for assistance – their expertise can help provide your dog with the relief they need.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I treat my dog’s hay fever at home?

We recommend regularly grooming your dog to remove any pollen from their fur and using an air purifier to minimize exposure to indoor allergens. Make sure your dog’s bedding is frequently washed and kept clean. Limit your dog’s exposure to pollen by keeping them indoors during high pollen count days or hours. You can consult with your vet for further recommendations specific to your dog’s needs.

Can I give my dog hay fever tablets?

It is important to consult your veterinarian before giving any medications, including allergy tablets, to your dog. Some human medications can be harmful or even toxic to dogs. Your vet will be able to recommend a safe and appropriate treatment option.

What home remedies are available for dog hay fever?

In addition to keeping your dog’s environment clean and allergen-free, you can consider some natural remedies to alleviate their symptoms. Quercetin, a natural antioxidant found in foods like apples and tomatoes, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. It can be given as a supplement after consulting your vet. 

Can pollen allergies cause breathing issues in dogs?

Yes, pollen allergies can cause breathing issues in dogs as they may experience inflammation and irritation in their respiratory system. Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, and difficulties with breathing. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it’s important to consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Final thoughts

In our research, we found that dogs can indeed suffer from hay fever. As responsible pet owners, it’s essential to be aware of symptoms and provide appropriate care for our canine companions. Prevention is always better than cure, so here are a few tips to minimize your dog’s exposure to allergens:

If you suspect your dog is suffering from this condition, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment. They may recommend over-the-counter antihistamines or more specialized medications, depending on the severity of your dog’s symptoms.

Remember, our dogs rely on us to keep them healthy and happy. By being informed and taking necessary precautions, we can ensure they enjoy a comfortable life, even during allergy season.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.