Most dogs love to run and play in the yard, but for some, it can end up being a less-than-pleasant experience. Dogs with grass allergies suffer a number of uncomfortable symptoms that can be difficult to relieve, and if you don’t treat your dog’s allergies, their allergic response can only get worse.
If you do figure out that your dog has a grass allergy, don’t worry -- it’s not all doom and gloom. Here we will take a look at the causes, symptoms, and treatments for a dog allergic to grass.
Grass Allergy Causes
It is a common misconception that dogs are allergic to the green grass they step on. In reality, dogs are allergic not to grass, but to grass pollens, and it is through the inhalation of those pollens that a dog can have an allergic reaction.
Since grasses release pollen into the air seasonally -- usually in late spring and early summer -- dogs who are allergic to grass may only show symptoms during those times. Grass pollens are fine and powdery and can travel miles in the wind, so you may end up with pollens in your yard even if you don’t have any grass.
Grass Allergy Symptoms
The symptoms caused by a grass allergy can vary from dog to dog, but in most cases you will see extreme itchiness as a primary symptom. Your dog may lick, bite, and scratch their skin to the point of causing injury, infection, and hair loss. The areas that are most likely to be affected are your dog’s head, face, armpits, abdomen, and feet. It is not unusual to see a dog with grass allergies licking or gnawing on their paws.
Though less common, dogs suffering from grass allergies may also exhibit sneezing and red, weepy, or irritated eyes.
Grass Allergy Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from a grass allergy, visit your veterinarian. They will either suggest an initial treatment to see if it helps, or recommend allergy testing to conclusively identify the allergen. Allergy testing is carried out through blood testing or intradermal skin testing.
Once your dog has been diagnosed with a grass allergy, there are things you can do to help:
- Keep Your Lawn Mowed and Avoid Tall Grasses
Pollen is usually released from tall grasses (there is often a wispy flower atop tall blades of grass -- this is where the pollen develops). Keeping your lawn mowed and avoiding areas with tall grass will reduce the chances of your dog coming into contact with irritating pollen.
- Limit Time Outdoors During Pollen Season
It may seem drastic, but limiting the time that your dog spends outside during pollen season (late spring to early summer) can really help. Take your dog on their regular walks, but bring playtime indoors when pollen counts are high.
- Wipe Down Feet and Legs
Wiping down your dog’s feet and legs can help to remove any clingy pollen that attached itself to your dog while they were outside. A towel with warm water or medicated wipes recommended by your veterinarian should do the trick.
- Anti-Itch Sprays and Shampoos
Many veterinarians recommend anti-itch sprays and shampoos to relieve allergy symptoms. During pollen season, bathe your dog regularly with a medicated shampoo, and apply anti-itch spray directly to your dog’s paws, legs, abdomen, or wherever else they are experiencing discomfort.
- Omega-3 (Fish oil) and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
These supplements work to ease the inflammation and itchiness associated with grass allergies. Many dog foods contain these beneficial ingredients, but you can give your dog an extra boost by using the pill or liquid forms of these supplements.
- Antihistamines, Steroids, and Allergy Shots
In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend that your dog start a medication or allergy shot regimen to relieve the symptoms.
More on Dog Allergies
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Know Your Options: Allergy Meds for Dogs
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.