Extreme pollen threat to pets in Victoria this long weekend

Published on 3 November 2023

RSPCA Victoria is urging pet owners to protect their furry companions as Melbourne Pollen Count and Forecast issues a warning of extreme pollen levels for the upcoming long weekend.

Dr Liz Walker, RSPCA Victoria CEO, said it might surprise people to hear their pets can suffer from allergies just as much as humans do.

“High or extreme pollen levels can really affect the health of our pets,” Dr Walker said.

“Common signs of allergies can include itchy skin – this may be displayed by your pet licking, scratching and excessive hair-pulling, but also things like weepy eyes, runny nose, and for cats – even asthma symptoms.”

Certain dog breeds are more prone to allergies including; Dalmatian, Golden Retriever, West Highland White Terrier, Shar Pei, Labrador Retriever, Cairn Terrier, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Boxer, and Pug.

Dr Walker urged people be mindful of the potential impact on their beloved animals and to take proactive steps to safeguard their pets’ health and well-being.

“Recognising the signs of allergies and seeking timely veterinary care is vital as without treatment some allergies can escalate to full-blown anaphylaxis, while others, if left untreated, can lead to behavioural problems and secondary infections,” Dr Walker said.

“There are a number of things you can do to help prevent allergies or reduce their impact to your pet. Reducing time outdoors during peak pollen periods, or something as simple as regularly wiping their fur with a damp cloth to remove any pollen or allergens that may have settled on their coats can also help.”

Melbourne Pollen Team’s Dr Edwin Lampugnani explained forecasts predict high-to-extreme grass pollen levels over the long weekend.

“By Monday 6 November, a state-wide forecast of extreme grass pollen levels is anticipated, and these conditions are expected to persist through to at least Thursday 9 November,” Dr Lampugnani said.

“This year’s early onset of high pollen days is unprecedented in recent decades, with current data showing the 2023 season is outpacing both the average and the significant 2020 season.”

RSPCA Victoria’s Chief Veterinarian Dr Bronwyn Oke recently appeared on the Pollen and Allergies Podcast explaining how allergies can affect our pets – listen online here.

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