Allergies: How Pollen is Affecting Your Pet

                                                  Image credit: Juliet White/Getty Images

Springtime brings flowers and warmth. But along with all the benefits of the season come the dreaded symptoms of allergies. Eyes water, noses run and a layer of yellow pollen seems to coat everything in sight.

And it turns out even pets are affected.

Vets and pet owners have noticed their furry friends scratching and sneezing earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the unusually warm weather.

"I've noticed a lot of changes," said Martha Grossman, the owner of Lily, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. "She's had her flea medication and everything but she's just scratching a lot more lately."

"Dodger rolls around in the grass a lot," said Diana Battaglia of her Boston terrier. "A lot more than usual."

According to veterinary dermatologist Dr. Heather Peikes, pets fall victim to the same allergies as people.

"They even have the same symptoms," Peikes said. "Runny eyes, running noses, itchy skin, ear infections."

And while allergies affect both people and animals every year, Andy Mussoline, a spokesman for Accuweather, says it's happening much earlier this year.

"The Eastern two-thirds of the country are experiencing an especially high pollen count," Mussoline said. "This is due to a combination of factors. Typically during normal springs, we have cold fronts moving through and changes in the wind. The fresh air pushes the allergens out. But now there aren't many cold fronts moving through, which creates stagnant air. At the same time, the very warm weather has created a high pollen count earlier than usual."

For some pets, as for many people, allergies are more than just a nuisance.

"He itches his legs and behind his ears all the time," said Chris Kobus of his three-year-old Boston terrier, Wilbur. "Many nights he cant sleep because he's up all night itching. I'm taking him to the vet tomorrow. I feel so bad."

Dr. Peikes says the treatment for pet allergies is also similar to the treatment for humans.

"There's allergy testing, allergy shots, air purifiers and even antihistamines that can help pets with allergies," she said.

But Peikes says always consult with a vet before taking any action.  Some treatments may be safe for humans, but not for your pet.