Pet 411: It’s pollen season for your pets, too

Spring is a wonderful time of year – an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the sunshine with your four-legged friend. But for many of us, spring also means allergy season. Not just for us, but for our pets, too.

I get questions all year round about how to care for pets who scratch and itch due to allergies. But this time of year always brings an uptick in concerns. So I reached out to my colleague Dr. Robert Schick, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist, to get some more information and to ask for some advice.

While pollen and other allergens make people sneeze, it affects pets differently, Dr. Schick said. People breathe in pollen while dogs and cats are much more likely to absorb it through their skin. That’s why pets itch and scratch so much during the pollen season.

This excessive scratching sometimes makes it hard for dogs to sleep through the night – which often makes it hard for an owner to sleep at night, too!

What are some of the signs of allergies in pets? Dogs will scratch themselves excessively, scoot their bottoms on the floor, rub their faces on the furniture or lick their paws. Cats suffering from allergies may lick themselves more than normal, possibly even pulling out clumps of hair.

If these problems persist, you should take your pet to your veterinarian.  If conventional treatment with your veterinarian is not successful they may contact a veterinary dermatologist, like those at many BluePearl hospitals.

There are some steps you can take to prevent allergic reactions, Dr. Schick added.

  • After a walk outside, use a wet washcloth to wipe down your dogs’ legs and tummy.
  • Consider a weekly bath with cool water, possibly using antibacterial shampoo that you may get from your veterinarian.
  • There are pros and cons to keeping a cat indoors, but one of the pros is that your cat will avoid many allergens from the outside, such as pollen.

Some allergies are just unavoidable. One of the most common allergies in dogs and cats is house dust mites, which are prevalent indoors and don’t have anything to do with pollen. Just like humans, pets can be allergic to a variety of things, such as fleas or various foods. And allergens are present all the time, not just in spring.

The bottom line, according to Dr. Schick: With proper veterinary care, most allergies can be treated and your furiously scratching dog or cat can finally get some comfort.

Thanks so much to Dr. Schick for the guidance, and thank you to all of the readers who contacted me with questions about your pets and allergies. I hope everyone gets some relief soon!

Have a question about your pet that you’d like answered? Write to Dr. Cathy Meeks at She’d love to hear from you, and your letter may be picked for an upcoming Pet 411 column.