This article looks at how you can protect your pets from the effects of hay fever
As temperatures rise, so unfortunately does the pollen count. If you suffer from hay fever, you'll know just how irritating it can be. Even if you don't suffer yourself, it's unlikely that you haven't come across someone with red eyes and a runny nose in the summer. But it's not only humans that can suffer the dreaded pollen allergy - your pets can be affected by it too.
It can be difficult to determine whether your pet is suffering from the symptoms of hay fever or simply feeling uncomfortable due to the increase in temperature, but there are some symptoms to look for.
The main symptoms of hay fever are weeping or inflamed/red eyes, the licking of paws, overzealous and unusual amounts scratching or biting while they're grooming themselves and a tendency to shake their head and rub it against furniture, floors or people. Of course some of those are natural characteristics of your pet, but if they become sluggish in their demeanour or increase in any of these symptoms, hay fever could be the culprit and you should consult your local vet.
There are several simple steps that you can take at home to help alleviate the effect hay fever has on your pet, from grooming to limiting what they come into contact with.
Firstly, if you have a dog that likes to run through flowerbeds or roll in the grass, consider keeping them on a lead as pollen can cling to their fur and cause irritation.
Each time your pet has been outside, if possible, it's advisable to wipe their paws and face to help remove any pollen that is clinging to their fur. This can be done with ordinary baby wipes or specialist ones that can be bought at a variety of pet shops. It is also common practice to groom your pets with a specialist brush that helps to strip not only the top coat but also the under layers of fur that may hold pollen which could irritate them.
It is also important that pets are kept well groomed throughout the pollen season. This includes trimming hair - especially for long haired animals - and indulging them in weekly baths to help get rid of any lingering pollen. There are pet-friendly and hay fever-specific soaps and shampoos that can be used depending on how severely your pet suffers. Lastly, it is important that any bedding or surfaces that your pets come into regular contact with are cleaned to prevent the hard work spent ridding your pet of pollen going to waste. This can be done with sprays or simply a spin in the washing machine.
If your pets suffer from severe hay fever there are medications designed specifically for pets. Before giving these to your pets however it is advisable to consult your vet or carefully read the packaging.
For pets that are mildly affected by the allergy there are face and paw wipes, shampoos and soaps and specialist brushes available.
Last updated: 5 March 2014