Hayfever Symptoms in Dogs

Hayfever symptoms in dogs are similar in some ways to those found in human hayfever sufferers, but dogs also show some unique canine symptoms. An estimated 10 percent of American pet dogs are affected by hayfever each year, so let’s learn what the symptoms look like in your pet so you’ll be able to get him appropriate care to help him feel better during hayfever season.

What Canine Hayfever Looks Like

Dogs with hayfever are often very itchy all over their bodies. The itching is followed by a rash that breaks out on the dog’s face and feet. Over time, the hair over the dog’s eyes and on his feet may actually begin to thin because he’s scratched so much or chewed his feet so often. These symptoms indicate an atopic allergy, or one that is caused by an inhaled allergen that causes skin, rather than respiratory, problems.

In addition to the skin problems listed above, dogs with hayfever may also have watery eyes, runny noses and they may sneeze, but these symptoms are less common in dogs although they are probably more familiar to human hayfever sufferers than the skin problems previously discussed.

When Canine Hayfever Develops

Hayfever is a seasonal allergy in both dogs and people, causing the greatest problems during the summer and early fall. When you start to see pollen counts climbing on your local newscast or you start to feel hayfever symptoms yourself, you can expect to your dog to begin experiencing symptoms himself. Once your area experiences its first hard winter frost, the hayfever symptoms should subside for both you and your dog.

Although symptoms of canine hayfever can develop at any point in a dog’s life, they are most likely to begin when your pet is between 1 and 3 years old. Certain breeds, such as Boston terriers, Cairn terriers, Dalmatians, Irish setters, poodles, schnauzers, Scottish terriers, West Highland terriers and wire-haired terriers, may be more prone to developing hayfever than other purebred or mixed-breed dogs.

How to Help a Dog with Hayfever

A variety of methods can be used to help your dog feel better when his hayfever flares up. They include:

  • Administering oral or topical medications as recommended by your veterinarian
  • Bathing your dog frequently in cool water
  • Clipping your dog’s coat if he has long hair
  • Keeping your dog indoors on days when pollen counts are high
  • Running the air conditioner overnight to filter pollen out of your home environment
  • Soaking your dog’s feet in a bath of Epsom salt and water to relieve his itchy skin—rinse his feet completely before letting your dog out of the tub because he could develop diarrhea if he licks his paws when they have Epsom salt on them
  • Using oatmeal baths or other skin-soothing methods on your dog’s irritated skin
  • Washing your dog’s bedding weekly with hot water and drying them completely before returning them to your dog

If none of these treatments prove effective at controlling your dog's hayfever, he may be a candidate for allergy shots. This course of treatment involves administering small amounts of allergen over time to help your dog's immune system develop a resistance to the allergen. Ask your veterinarian for more information about this possible solution to your dog's allergy problem.