Many humans feel miserable during spring and summer because they are suffering from hay fever. For people afflicted with hay fever, the time of year when the weather is at its best and the parks are at their most alluring often descends into a frustrating sneeze-fest. Rolling meadows are off-limits and BBQs in the park must be attended with wads of tissue paper jammed into every pocket. Even strolls through the cement-capped city streets can be dogged by constant uncomfortable mouth-breathing and the never-ending urge to scratch at one’s own eyeballs.
But it’s not only humans who can have their lives turned upside-down by this irritating and debilitating allergy; a sizeable minority of emotional support dogs also suffer from hay fever. It is estimated that approximately 10% of dogs experience hay fever symptoms during the months of May through August. Hay fever symptoms are just as annoying and unpleasant for your ESA dog as they are for hay fever-afflicted humans. But there are some things you can do that will make your hay fever-ridden ESA dog’s life easier. Here is how to ease your emotional support dog’s hay fever symptoms.
What Is Hay Fever?
Hay fever, or to give it its technical name allergic rhinitis, is an allergenic condition. Dogs who suffer from the condition experience an allergic reaction to pollen, dander, or dust. It is most commonly triggered during the spring and summer months by pollen from grass, trees, or plants. Hay fever causes a dog’s autoimmune system to overreact to the presence of pollen. When an allergic dog’s body detects the presence of pollen it experiences an over-the-top reaction because it believes it is under attack from a dangerous foreign object. It is this autoimmune reaction that causes the typical array of hay fever symptoms.
Hay Fever Symptoms
An emotional support dog’s hay fever symptoms can include sneezing; inflamed sinuses which results in a runny and/or blocked nose and panting; itchy, watering, and red eyes; sore and irritated ears and throat; a rash on the face or paws; and excessive itchiness, which will often result in constant scratching. A dog that is suffering from hay fever will often be drowsy, low-energy, down in the dumps, and even depressed.
Which Dogs Most Commonly Get Hay Fever?
A dog can get hay fever for the first time at any age, although symptoms will usually appear in a dog before the age of three. Certain emotional support dog breeds are more likely than others to suffer from hay fever. Dalmatians, Boston Terriers, Schnauzers, Irish Setters, Cairn Terriers, West Highland Terriers, and Poodles are all particularly susceptible to hay fever.
How To Treat Your Emotional Support Dog’s Hay Fever Symptoms
Unfortunately, there is no cure for hay fever, in dogs or in humans. But because it is an allergy, removing the trigger of the allergic reaction will greatly, and often totally, extinguish the symptoms.
A vet will recommend a good antihistamine for your emotional support dog. Antihistamines work by stopping a chemical called histamine from affecting the cells in your dog’s body. Histamine is released when the body detects a harmful foreign object that it needs to fight against by becoming inflamed. Antihistamines can be easily administered to your dog in its food.
Get Your Dog a Haircut
If your emotional dog support has a long, scraggy coat, pollen can very easily get trapped in it. A good way to reduce the amount of pollen your dog is carrying around with it is to get it a nice, short haircut just before hay fever season kicks in.
Wash Your Dog’s Coat
Even with short hair, your dog will still carry pollen around with it. So it is very important to wash your dog regularly to keep the amount of pollen attached to its coat and skin as small as possible.
Wash Your ESA Dog’s Bedding Regularly
Pollen can end up in your dog’s bedding and cause major irritation during the night. This can prevent your ESA dog from getting good sleep, and thus exacerbate its symptoms even further. It is imperative that you wash your dog’s bedding regularly, at least once a week, during hay fever season.
Choose the Correct Location and Time For Outdoor Exercise
When you are walking your emotional support dog, try to walk it early in the morning or later in the evening when pollen tends to be lowest. Also, try to avoid high-pollen areas such as meadows and parks.
Keep Your Dog Indoors
If your dog’s hay fever symptoms are particularly acute, it may be best to keep your dog indoors. With the windows and doors shut, it is difficult for pollen to find its way into a house, so even an ESA dog with particularly bad hay fever can avoid symptoms during high-pollen times if it is kept indoors and away from pollen.