Does your dog have hay fever? Vet issues warning to pet owners over pollen count – and reveals how to protect them this summer

Vets have warned pet owners about high pollen counts and show how you can protect your cat or dog this summer.

Experts have warned owners to try to keep their pets indoors ‘as much as possible’ until September and take them for walks in the evenings.

Just like people, pets can also experience symptoms of hay fever, such as sneezing, itchy eyes, runny dandruff and rashes. They may also scratch more than normal.

If your pet starts showing any of these symptoms, it is good to take him to the vet as soon as possible to rule out other health problems.

Gemma Renwick, a PDSA veterinary nurse, said: ‘Like people, pets can also suffer from pollen allergies, such as hay fever.

Vets have warned pet owners over high pollen counts (file photo)

‘As the summer months often bring a rise in pollen counts, it is important to recognize common symptoms of hay fever or allergies in your pets.

‘As we move from spring to summer we see an increase in both grass pollen and tree pollen, so your pet may be affected differently over the seasons.

‘Although hay fever in humans often looks like a runny nose, watery eyes or shortness of breath, these symptoms are much less common in pets.

‘Signs that your pet may have hay fever or allergies to things like pollen are more likely; licking or biting their paws, scratching a lot and red or sore-looking skin – especially around their ears, eyes, between the pads of their feet or on their stomach.

‘Your pet may also look tired or lethargic, or continually shake his head and rub his ears or snout. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your vet to rule out other health problems and ask for advice on treating allergies.

‘It can be difficult to find out exactly what is causing your pet’s allergies. But if it’s worse in summer and improves in winter, pollen could be part of the problem.”

The type of pollen your pet is sensitive to determines which year the allergies are at their worst. For example, tree pollen is most potent in March and April; grass pollen are prominent from May to July; and flowering weeds from June to August.

How can you help a pet struggling with hay fever?

Here are five ways you can help your pet if he’s suffering from hay fever, according to PDSA vets.

1. Clean bedding

‘Make sure your pet’s bedding is washed and vacuumed weekly as this will help remove any pollen that may have built up during their trips outside during the week.’

2. Flea control

“Make sure your pet’s flea control stays up to date because regardless of the cause of his allergies, irritating fleas will only make him itch.”

“Although it may be tempting to make a home remedy when your pet is in pain, never give him any over-the-counter medications.” This can be dangerous with incorrect doses or with certain species.’

3. Check the weather

‘When it comes to hay fever, prevention is often better than cure, so limit your dog’s exposure to pollen in the first place.

‘If you plan to go outside, check the pollen forecast for that day first and plan your walks before dawn or early evening as pollen counts can be lower at these times.’

4. Keep them on a leash

‘While we know that dogs enjoy playing in the grass, this can lead to their fur becoming covered in pollen, causing hours of misery later in the day.

‘If you keep your puppy on a leash near grass after each walk and wipe the coat with a damp cloth, especially the paws and muzzle, you can remove any small traces of pollen.’

‘Also consider an alternative location for your daily walks, such as a beach if close by, or a less rural area, as these locations are more likely to have lower pollen counts.’

5. Medication

‘Your vet may recommend medications to help your pet feel more comfortable during the summer months.

‘There are many different treatment options available, including tablets and medicated shampoos. Also consider adding an animal skin supplement or oil to your pet’s diet, not just during the summer months.

‘These supplements can help strengthen the skin barrier, soothe itching and soothe sensitive skin.’

Gemma revealed five ways you can prevent your pet from getting pollen.

First, by washing your pet’s bedding every week, you can remove the pollen that has built up during outdoor life.

Also make sure your pet’s flea control is up to date to prevent additional itching.

If your pet does need to go outside during the day, you can check the pollen count first and choose to take him for a walk if it is low.

While it’s tempting to let your dog loose in the grass and have fun, keeping it on a leash will prevent misery later in the day.

You can also wash their fur, especially their paws and snout, after every walk to remove traces of pollen.

And if your dog is really bothered by it, you can ask the vet about different medications.