May issue

May issue
May issue

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Does my dog have hay fever?

My dog, Tony, a crossbreed, has started to itch and seems uncomfortable after returning from walks. He stratches and bites his body, and shakes his head from side to side. At first I thought it may be ticks or even fleas, but regularly check him over and find no evidence of either.
I have a feeling it may be an allergic reaction, almost like hay fever. Do dogs suffer from hay fever?
I'm desperate to find something to ease his itching - he's scratching so hard on occasions he pulls out his coat, and rubs his face on the floor, which doesn't look right. But I'm loathe to give him any chemical treatments - is there a natural remedy out there for Tony?

Philip Dunlop, by email

Dr John Howie, co-founder of Lintbells, says:

Dogs can indeed suffer from an allergic reaction to pollen and like humans they can be susceptible to hayfever. However, while hay fever in humans brings symptoms of sneezing and runny eyes, a dog is more likely to suffer the reaction to the pollen in its skin.

The signs of discomfort you describe in Tony – itching, shaking his head or rubbing it on the floor as well as pulling at his fur are all consistent with a pollen allergy. Many dogs with such an allergic reaction will show signs much earlier in the year than we see in human hay fever. This is because they are much more sensitive to tree pollen which is about from March, whereas human hay fever often starts in June with grass pollen.

If you are keen to try natural treatments for your dog it is first worth ensuring that his own natural skin defences are working as well as they possibly can. Skin health can be improved by adding Omega 6 and 3 oils to his diet to increase the essential fatty acids which they provide. Yumega Plus will provide the correct balance of these oils and will help calm the irritation and sensitivity in his skin. It will also make it more difficult for the pollen to penetrate the skin, so he would want to scratch less often. One of the natural ingredients in Yumega Plus is fresh salmon oil, which most dogs like and there is also more vitamin E than standard Yumega, to help dogs with sensitive skin.

Do make sure you brush his coat to remove any dirt, debris or trapped pollen and, at peak hay fever times, try wiping his coat with a damp towel after a walk to remove any pollen. Washing his bedding and brushes regularly will also help and, of course, do keep his flea control up to date.


  1. Please visit your vet as a first port of call. I ask because I had a dog who rubbed his face on the floor so hard to ease itchiness that he rubbed all the fur and skin off his face around his eye, and another time, his nose. You need to know exactly what you are dealing with before you can start looking at treatment, chemical or otherwise.

  2. When things start to go wrong in a dog's system it usually shows up in the skin first. This allergic-type reaction suggests that the immune system is becoming voer-stimulated. This is probably caused - or at least aggravated - by incorrect diet, This means acombination of over feedinga nd unsuitable type of food. I recommend a hypo-allergenic type of diet which is low in protein and fat, high in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, and free of chemicals. he should be fed asa little as you can get away with and cut out all treats for now. Vegetables are permissible though.
    Burns Pet Nutrition can advise you on type of food and how much to give.
    Lastly, have his anal glands emptied. This is an excellent way of removing poisons from the system.
    John Burns BVMS MRCVS
    Burns Pet Nutrition

  3. These come in three forms: pills, eye drops, and nasal spray. These have little effect on congestion in the sinuses, but they are effective Hay Fever Treatments for things like sneezing, runny nose, itchy throat, watery eyes and other irritant symptom associations. It is also an effective pollen allergy treatment.

  4. My Cavalier King Charles, has snotty eyes which sometimes during the day it clears up, sometimes it looks red and angry with mucus in them. His nose is constantly dribbling and he sneezes a lot. He has no fleas, doesn't scratch much and is generally healthy

    Is it possible that he has some kind of anallergy