A sunny weather typically means more time and more fun outdoors. However, for someone who has a really sensitive immune system, a sunny weather can mean really itchy eyes and runny nose.
That’s no fun, right? But what about dogs? Can dogs get hayfever, too?
The answer is yes but with a different set of symptoms.
Dogs, when exposed to airborne allergies, can also develop a runny nose and inflamed eyes. However, unlike humans, they don’t sneeze. Instead, they scratch and lick.
In dogs, hayfever isn’t hayfever. It’s actually called atopy. It’s considered to be an inherited condition which means that your dog can get it from his parents.
Some breeds are more likely to have it than others, like:
- Cairn Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- German Shepherd
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Labrador Retriever
- Yorkshire Terrier
So, how does a dog get atopy?
Well, it actually happens the same way as humans get hayfever.
When a dog has an oversensitive immune system, his body overreacts to pollens, dust mites, moulds and other common allergens in his environment. Once his immune system is triggered, it releases natural chemicals like histamine to protect itself.
Those chemicals, unfortunately, causes itchiness which is why dogs with atopy scratch, lick and bite excessively.
Unlike humans, dogs don’t need to inhale the allergens to get atopy. The trigger only has to settle on the dog’s skin to trigger his immune system.
Diagnosing Hayfever In Your Dog
Diagnosis is actually tricky because the same set of lab tests used on humans don’t give reliable results when used in dogs.
With that, vets typically start with a physical exam, paying close attention to the presence of parasites. If your vet sees fleas on your dog, he won’t do further tests until the flea infestation is treated completely.
Now, if your dog continues to itch despite having no fleas, your vet will subject him to a variety of tests, including skin biopsies, intradermal allergy tests, scrapes, and blood tests. If there’s no cause of itchiness established, a diagnosis of dog hayfever can be made.
Symptoms of Hayfever in Dogs
Because there’s a wide range of potential triggers, sensitivity can vary from one dog to another.
Skin irritation, however, is the most common representation of atopy. It can appear in your dog’s face, paws, ears, and abdomen. He may lick and scratch those areas in an attempt to experience relief.
Over time, however, constant scratching and rubbing can cause hair loss, scabs, thickened skin, and sores. In worse cases, atopy can leave a dog bald and greasy.
How to Treat Dogs with Hayfever
The problem with atopy is that it can’t be cured. There are, however, a few ways to control its symptoms.
After a diagnosis is made, your vet will probably prescribe corticosteroids to your dog. They are strong anti-inflammatories that can make your dog feel a lot more comfortable.
Unfortunately, the drugs carry a few bad side effects. It can increase your dog’s appetite which can make him gain excess weight. They can also cause thinning skin and put your dog at risk of Cushing’s disease and even diabetes.
As a safer alternative, oclanitib and cyclosporine may be given to your dogs. They work against inflammation with less risk for complications. The downside is that they are a lot more expensive than steroids.
Another option to treat hayfever n dogs is to get your dog vaccinated with an injection containing really small quantities of the allergens your dog is reacting to. You can ask your vet to know more about it.
Read more from a vet here about what you can do to help.
Preventing Hayfever in Dogs
In addition to medications, there are home treatments you can use to control your dog’s condition.
Bathing is one good example. Washing your dog physically removes the allergens from the surface of his skin. This reduces your dog’s exposure to the allergens and restricts his body’s immune response.
Try to wash your dog every 2 to 3 days to avoid stripping his skin off its natural oils. It can cause dryness which can make your dog scratch more.
You can use a mild shampoo to soothe his skin. One that has oatmeal is good since it’s able to calm the skin.
If you take your dog out for a walk, it’s a good idea to wipe his tummy and tummy after.
In addition, you can also give your dog certain food supplements. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, for example, contain potent anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve itching. They can also improve the condition of his skin, making it more resistance against allergens.
Take note that such food supplements can take some time to work. Don’t expect to see results or changes right away.
Another natural remedy you can try is calendula. It works really well in soothing irritated skin. You can add about 10 to 15 drops of it to 4 ounces of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray it to areas that are itchy.
The Hayfever Season
Like humans, dogs are more prone to showing hay fever symptoms from April to late summer. During such time, it’s best to be cautious in exposing your dog to places with possible allergens. Taking your dog to a pollen meadow, for example, can leave your dog with a seriously itchy skin.
Can dogs get hayfever?
Yes, definitely. It’s just that their symptoms are a bit different from human hayfever. While they may develop a runny nose and itchy eyes, really itchy skin is the most common representation of hayfever in dogs.
So, if you see your dog persistently scratching, biting and licking his skin, it’s best to take him to his vet. Although the condition can be inherited, any dog with a particularly sensitive immune system can develop it. Additionally, atopy can develop in puppies and get worse over the years. Prompt intervention is necessary to avoid leaving your dog bald and with a poor skin condition.
It also helps to be aware of what can trigger allergies in your dog as that can help you minimize his exposure to them.
You can read more about it here.