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Pets and Plant Allergens

Pets and Plant Allergens

Does your dog or cat get itchy in Spring? Just like us, dogs and cats can suffer seasonal allergies from pollen. Pollen floats in the air and can be inhaled but much of it ends up on the ground. When our dogs and cats walk through it, lie on it or roll around in it, they collect the pollen on their fur. The pollen works its way down the hair shafts and onto their skin, causing them to itch.

There are many plants, trees and grasses that produce pollen, so finding the source can be very challenging. Removing those that are common causes of pet allergies from your garden can help to manage your pet’s allergies. Here are just a few of the common culprits:

  • Oak, birch, poplar and willow trees - pollen
  • Bottlebrush, fruitless Mulberry. Sheep sorrel, Ragweed – pollen
  • Bermuda grass, Orchard grass, Kikuyu grass - pollen

While pollen may be the cause of many environmental allergies in our pets, some plants and trees can cause pet skin allergies just from contact – called a contact allergy. One common example is Wandering Jew - found extensively in moist, shady areas within established gardens, bush reserves and parks – and known to cause skin irritation in some sensitive dogs.

Some plants cause allergies from their pollen and also from contact:

  • Primrose – skin contact with plant 
  • Juniper & Yew – pollen and skin contact with male plants (FYI: female plants produce berries)
  • Sagebrush, Euphorbia, Russian Thistle, Daylily, Lilies and Alliums – pollen and skin contact with plant

Trees and grasses usually cause pollen related allergies in spring and early summer, while other plants can be a problem from spring right through summer and into autumn. When weather is wet and humid, mold and fungi can also cause allergies in our pets.

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