Pet pollen allergy warning
RSPCA Victoria is urging people to protect their pets as Melbourne Pollen Count and Forecast issues a warning of extreme pollen levels for the upcoming long weekend.
Dr Liz Walker, RSPCA Victoria CEO, said it might surprise people to hear their pets can suffer from allergies just as much as humans do.
“High or extreme pollen levels can really affect the health of our pets,” Dr Walker said.
“Common signs of allergies can include itchy skin – this may be displayed by your pet licking, scratching and excessive hair-pulling, but also things like weepy eyes, runny nose, and for cats – even asthma symptoms.”
Certain dog breeds are more prone to allergies including; Dalmatian, Golden Retriever, West Highland White Terrier, Shar Pei, Labrador Retriever, Cairn Terrier, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Boxer, and Pug.
Allergies in pets
Dr Walker urged people be mindful of the potential impact on their beloved animals and to take proactive steps to safeguard their pets’ health and well-being.
“Recognising the signs of allergies in pets and seeking timely veterinary care is vital,” says Dr Walker.
“Without treatment, some allergies can escalate to anaphylaxis, while others can lead to behavioural problems and secondary infections.
Dr Walker says there’s things owners can do to prevent allergies or reduce their impact on pets.
“Reducing time outdoors during peak pollen periods,” Dr Walker says.
“Something as simple as wiping their fur with a damp cloth to remove any pollen or allergens can also help.”
Melbourne Pollen Team’s Dr Edwin Lampugnani says forecasts predict high-to-extreme grass pollen levels over the long weekend.
“By Monday 6 November, a state-wide forecast of extreme grass pollen levels is anticipated,” says Dr Lampugnani.
“These conditions are expected to persist through to at least Thursday 9 November
He explains this year’s early onset of high pollen days is unprecedented in recent decades.
“Current data shows the 2023 season is outpacing both the average and the significant 2020 season.”
Recognising the symptoms of a pet pollen allergy
Excessive scratching or licking One of the most common signs of allergies in pets is an increase in scratching. Dogs may lick their paws excessively or rub their face against furniture or the carpet. Cats might over-groom to the point of losing fur. These are attempts to soothe the itchiness that allergies can cause.
Red or irritated skin Allergies can lead to inflamed skin. You might notice redness, especially around the ears, paws, and underbelly. In some cases, there may be hives or hot spots—areas where the irritation is particularly severe.
Respiratory issues Just like humans, pets can suffer from respiratory symptoms due to allergies. Wheezing, coughing, or a runny nose can all be signs that your pet is reacting to airborne allergens.
Watery eyes If your pet’s eyes are watering more than usual, it could be a response to the irritants in the air. This is their body trying to flush out the allergens.
Ear infections Pets with allergies often shake their heads or scratch their ears. The same allergens that irritate their skin can lead to ear infections, which may require veterinary attention.
Managing allergies in pets
Limit outdoor activities On days when the pollen count is particularly high, try to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside. Early morning and late evening walks can be better, as pollen levels are often lower at these times.
Create an allergen-free zone Inside your home, use air purifiers to reduce airborne allergens. Make sure your pet has a comfortable, clean space where they can retreat from the irritations of the outside world.
Regular baths and grooming Bathing your pet more frequently during allergy season can help remove pollen from their fur and skin. Use a hypoallergenic shampoo, and follow up with a conditioner to keep their skin from drying out.
Wash bedding often Your pet’s bedding can trap allergens. Wash their beds, blankets, and any favorite soft toys regularly to reduce exposure to pollen.
Consult your vetIf you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. They can offer specific advice and may prescribe medications or supplements to help manage the allergies.