Dogs can develop allergies in much the same way as humans do. Grass allergies are the most common type that can be found in dogs, and they are usually spread by airborne pollen. So what are the symptoms of grass allergies for dogs, and how can you prevent or treat them?
Grass allergies, also known as pollen allergies, are the most common type that appear in dogs. The pollen is absorbed in the dog’s skin and can cause an allergic reaction. The pollen is mostly spread through direct contact with grass, though it also can be transferred indirectly from people bringing it in from the outside.
Let’s look at grass allergies and their most common symptoms as well as possible ways to prevent the allergic reactions from occurring in the first place. We will also discuss methods of treatment to help your dog cope with the symptoms of grass allergies.
Symptoms Of Grass Allergies in Dogs
Dogs are different from people in the ways they react to allergies. When a human is allergic to pollen, they sneeze and cough excessively. This is not the case with dogs. Dog’s allergic reactions are usually exhibited by itching, scratching, and biting themselves.
This is because the pollen is absorbed into their skin and caught in their paws, fur, and ears. Therefore, dogs try to scratch the itchy areas, which might lead to loss of their hair, scabbing, and ear infections.
If you are not sure whether your dog is having a reaction to allergy or to another condition, you should check for other symptoms beyond their scratching. Below are some of the most common symptoms that might appear due to allergies:
- Scabbed, itchy, and red skin.
- Runny eyes.
- Itchy tail and back.
- Snoring due to an inflamed throat.
- Swollen paws.
- Chewing of paws.
Grass Allergy Symptoms In Dogs That Might Be Caused By Other Conditions
Sometimes your dog can show symptoms related to grass allergies that might also be signs of other conditions. So, before declaring that your dog is having a grass allergy reaction, it is smart to double-check the symptoms and check for parasites or other types of allergies such as food allergies.
The most common parasites are fleas. Fleas are tiny and can be hidden deep in the dog’s fur, so you must check your animal thoroughly. If you want to be on the safe side, you can take your dog to the vet, so there will be no confusion.
Food allergies are another possibility for symptoms similar to grass allergies. Even if you give the same food to your dog, that does not mean that the ingredients are always the same. While manufacturers of dog foods are required to list the ingredients, the source and nature of each ingredient can vary wildly from bag to bag.
Also, your dog’s sensitivity to certain ingredients can change over time and they can develop food allergies, meaning that certain types of food will not agree with them anymore. Itching and scratching are common symptoms of food allergies, just as they are for grass allergies.
Therefore, it is better to test your dog by taking them to the vet and establish what actually is causing certain symptoms. If your vet suspects a food allergy, a common first step is an elimination diet where the dog is given very limited ingredient foods to try to identify the offending culprit ingredient or protein.
Causes For Developing Grass Allergies In Dogs
Like people, dogs can develop allergies to pollen over time. Even if your dog was fine playing in the grass in spring and summer for several years, they might suddenly start showing allergy reactions at a later point in their life. There is no certain reason for the development of grass allergies, but there are ways for you to recognize the symptoms and prevent particular conditions that might make things uncomfortable for your pet.
Since grass allergies appear in spring, you might notice the symptoms during this time. The pollen spreads in the air and is commonly found in the grass. So, while your dog plays in the grass, their skin can absorb the pollen, and your pet will start showing symptoms. Even if your dog does not spend a lot of time outside, the pollen might be transferred into your home on the shoes and clothing of people who come from the outside.
If you keep your dog inside, and you do not take them outside a lot, developing allergies to grass might sound odd to you. However, pollen spreads easily, so never exclude the possibility that some symptoms are caused by it, even if your dog has been living primarily inside.
Common Treatments For Grass Allergies In Dogs
The first thing you can do to help your dog is to take them to the vet. The most important step is to establish whether it is really grass allergies and not something else. Once you establish what is causing the symptoms, you can then attempt to treat them.
Wipe Your Dog’s Fur And Paws
Wiping the pollen from your dog’s body and paws can be of great help. You can use a damp towel to do this, and make sure that you do it several times a day to prevent the pollen from entering deeper into your dog’s skin. This will decrease the itching and scratching, and make your dog feel more comfortable.
Baths With Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo
Regular baths using hypo-allergenic shampoo might also ease the symptoms and stop the pollen from getting deeper into your dog’s skin. Make sure that you use a conditioner as well, to help remove the pollen.
Spray The Body With Aloe And Oatmeal
A combination of oatmeal and aloe can be really helpful in soothing the discomfort caused by grass allergies. Use a spray that contains these ingredients, and cover your dog’s body to reduce the itchiness.
Give Your Dog Fish Oil Supplements
Fish oil supplements contain omega 3-fatty acids that help in reducing inflammation and ease the reaction to the allergy. Fish oil has many other benefits for your dog as well.
Give Your Dog Antihistamines
Benadryl is a popular over-the-counter medication for humans that can also help alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms in dogs. Consult your vet to get proper dosages and to make sure that this medication is appropriate for your individual dog.
Your vet may prescribe a corticosteroid such as prednisone, which is highly effective in alleviating your dog’s itchiness and inflammation. Unfortunately, they have many undesirable side effects and long-term use can damage your dog’s organs. They are often prescribed for short periods of time to provide relief during particularly uncomfortable periods for your dog.
If grass allergies get really bad for your dog, injections can work in the same way as they work for humans. At first, it might be difficult for you to give these shots to your dog, but your vet can show you the proper way to do this, so you can do it on a daily basis. This is a very effective way of treatment. However, sometimes it can take some time for this method to work.
It might take months for your dog to get desensitized, and there’s no guaranty it will be completely effective. Also, you have to be careful with the injections since they can trigger a reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening for your dog. Even though this happens rarely, you still need to be alert and carefully monitor your pet when giving them these shots.
Whatever you choose as a treatment for your dog, be sure that you have established that grass allergies are really the case of the symptoms. Also, consult your vet on treatments you decide to use on your dog as not all treatments are suitable for every individual dog. You do not want to cause more complications in the process of trying to help your dog with grass allergies.
Prevention of Grass Allergies In Dogs
Prevention is key when it comes to allergies. There are steps you can take to stop the allergies from developing further and to make your dog feel more uncomfortable. Some dogs show really mild symptoms that are not easily noticeable, while others show all the symptoms of grass allergies, making it easier to see what is causing your dog discomfort.
Dog breeds such as Cairn Terriers, Golden Retrievers, and Cocker Spaniels are known to be breeds particularly susceptible to developing these types of allergies, and their symptoms are often quite noticeable. When these breeds develop symptoms, you can easily see that grass allergies are responsible. Watery eyes and excessive scratching and itching are the first signs that show that there is an allergic reaction.
Because grass allergies can’t be cured, treatment and prevention are closely related. Treating symptoms is a big part of preventing further, more intense reactions.
Once you notice any slight symptom of an allergy, you should immediately take your dog to the vet and get them diagnosed. Once you become familiar with your dog’s symptoms, you will be able to treat them quickly yourself. When you catch grass allergies early, you can get a head start in treating them before the dog becomes too uncomfortable.
When dogs scratch and bite at itchy areas, they can break the skin and create what are known as “hot spots” that can lead to further medical issues. So seeing your vet and getting their advice on how to proceed with treatment early is important in order to avoid these further complications.
Usually, when symptoms are identified early, grass allergies can be treated by using shampoos and other topicals. Your dog will be able to continue their daily routine without experiencing drastic changes.
Grass allergies in dogs are quite common, and you should not be surprised if you notice symptoms in your dog, especially during spring. Proper diagnosis and early treatment are key to alleviating your dog’s discomfort and avoiding worsening symptoms.