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Advice From The Experts: Looking After Your Pets Seasonal Allergies

Advice From The Experts: Looking After Your Pets Seasonal Allergies

My name is Meg, and I am a Registered Veterinary Nurse, working in a referral practice in Cornwall.

I am very passionate about equipping pet owners with up to date, relevant information in order to best take care of their animals.

Did you know that our dogs and cats can get seasonal allergies just like we can? With the increase in temperature and pollen count, we can see our animals experience symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, scratching and reddened skin. In this article, we will look at common signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies, what may cause them, and what you can do to ease and best manage symptoms.

What are the common signs of seasonal allergies?

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Clear discharge from the eyes
  • Tiredness and lethargy
  • Excessive scratching and itching, which can vary from mild to moderate
  • Ear infections – itching of the ears, repetitive shaking of the head and rubbing their ears along the floor can be indicative of an ear infection, as can a foul smell and reluctance to let you look down the ear canal
  • Reddened, blotchy skin that can sometimes develop into pustules
  • Self traumatising – biting, chewing, rubbing, or excessively licking at their own skin which is usually noted around the muzzle, paws or groin
  • Over grooming (particularly in cats) which can lead to marked hair loss

What can cause seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies are triggered by allergens present at differing times of year, usually in the warmer months of spring and summer. These can be triggered by pollen (either from grass, flowers or trees), dust and dust mites, mould and flea bites.

How is my pet diagnosed?

If your pet is experiencing any of the symptoms above, taking them to see your veterinary surgeon is strongly advised. They will be able to do a clinical examination, which alongside a medical history, can often be enough to give a diagnosis. This is why it is super helpful to think about potential triggers that your pet may have been exposed to before their symptoms started.

A vet may also suggest laboratory testing such as blood sampling, skin testing, anti-allergy injections or a referral to a dermatologist in more extreme cases.

What are the treatments for seasonal allergies?

Depending on the cause of your pet’s allergies, there are a number of treatments that may be suggested. These can include:

  • Anti-allergy injections
  • Oral medication
  • Antihistamines
  • Nutritional changes – a food-elimination trial is often advised to rule out any dietary intolerances causing allergy symptoms
  • Topical treatment such as shampoo or wipes
  • Supplements for skin health

What can I do to prevent seasonal allergies?

  • Pollen – reduce your pet’s exposure to pollen where possible. Keeping cats indoors, particularly on days where the pollen count is high, and not walking your dog on such days may help. Keeping your dog on a lead near grass, or avoiding walking them early in the morning or late in the evening can helpWiping your pet’s paws and legs after they have been outside can also help to reduce the amount of pollen that sits on the skin. Weekly baths can help soothe irritated skin, but it is important to avoid shampoos with lots of fragrance or ingredients that may anger sensitive skin. Medicated shampoo can be prescribed from your veterinary practice.
  • Dust and mould – keep up with dust removal and mould prevention in your home, using products that are safe for pets. Hoovering carpets, furniture and curtains regularly can help with keeping dust at bay.
  • Wash bedding frequently

Whilst pesky parasites do not usually cause allergies, it is important to note that they can cause some of the common symptoms seen with allergies, such as itching, redness and irritation.


Although fleas can be found all year round, they prefer the warmer months, and as the weather (finally) begins to warm up, it is really important that you know what to look out for.

How can I tell if my pet has fleas?

  • Itching and scratching
  • Licking more than usual
  • Reddened skin, particularly if your pet is allergic (flea allergic dermatitis can be extremely itchy and painful, and can lead to your pet self-traumatising, over grooming and developing painful scabs)
  • You may see fleas or ‘flea dirt’ (black flecks) on your pet’s coat

How do I get rid of fleas?

  • Prescription products provided by your Veterinary practice are the most effective treatments for fleas. You can discuss with your vet which product is best for your pet as there are both spot-on and tablet forms. It is important to avoid any products containing Permethrin for cats as this is toxic
  • Keep up to date with treatment. Prevention is better than cure
  • Flea combing your pet following treatment will help to remove any live fleas from the body
  • Ensure to treat the environment. If you spot fleas on your pet, treating them is important, however the vast majority of flea eggs and larvae lie dormant in the environment (carpets, curtains, bedding and sofas etc.). Therefore, it is important that you purchase a household flea spray, again available from your veterinary practice, and spray all soft furnishings and areas your pet has been. Ensure to ventilate the room for a few hours before allowing your pet back in the room.


Ticks are often harder to spot on your pet’s body. They are small, grey/brown parasites that at first may look a little like a growth or a skin tag, however on closer inspection, you will be able to see their legs near the skin. Ticks bury their mouthparts into the skin of your pet and survive on their blood, with the potential to spread disease.If you do find a tick on your pet, it is really important that it is removed correctly. Avoid using tweezers as mouth parts can be left in the skin, causing infection. If this is the first time seeing a tick on your pet, it is recommended to see your vet or nurse at your veterinary practice, who can then show you how to safely remove the tick at home. A tick twister (as shown) allows you to get to the base of the tick and remove the mouth parts successfully. They are available to purchase at many pet shops.

Monitor the tick site for redness and swelling for the next few days, ensuring your pet is well in themselves.

Tick Remover With Silicone Handle

How do I prevent ticks?

  • Many prescription flea treatments available from your veterinary practice also cover ticks – ask your veterinary surgeon for further advice
  • Be aware that ticks are most common in long grass and check your pet regularly

Whilst seasonal allergies and parasites can be quite distressing for our cats and dogs, it is important to remember that there are many treatment solutions to ease discomfort and ensure your pets are happy and healthy! Always consult your veterinary practice if you have any concerns – they will always be happy to help! 

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