Most dogs love to run around and play in the yard. Some dogs just can’t wait to be let out and as soon as the door is open, they’re off like a bullet before you know it. Chasing a ball or playing catch outside with their humans, without being confined within their home is beneficial for both the physical and mental health of canines. However, in some pooches, spending time outside brings more harm than benefits. One of the possible causes of this can be grass allergies.
“Can dogs be allergic to grass?”, you may ask. Well, much like humans, dogs get allergies too. Dander, different foods, and even pollen can all trigger a hypersensitive reaction in your dog’s immune system. And as unlikely as it may seem, grass just happens to be one of them. While some dogs are more prone to allergies than others, all pups can be allergic to grass or any other allergen. Thus, you’d best keep a close eye on your pooch when you take them out. If you notice excessive scratching, licking, or similar symptoms, it’s high time you pay a visit to the vet’s office.
Continue reading to find out more about grass allergies in canines and how you can help a dog who is allergic to grass and pollen.
What Are Grass Allergies?
In simple terms, an allergy is a response of your immune system to the presence of a foreign substance in your body. These foreign substances, called allergens, aren’t typically harmful to your body but trigger an immune response, causing your immune system to fight against them. If you’re hypersensitive to any allergen and it somehow enters your immune system, an allergic reaction is triggered. Common allergens include pet dander, food, and pollen.
Grass allergy, also known as hay fever, is exactly that but with grass and pollen. It stems from the pollen created by grass that scatters in the wind, which usually happens in the late spring season (April through early June) in most regions of the US. It is a very common condition and symptoms of grass allergies include skin rashes, runny nose, sneezing, watery/red eyes, and difficulty in breathing.
However, humans aren’t the only ones that have to worry about ingesting pollen and feeling awful afterward. If fresh-cut grass or a walk in the park causes you problems like itchy eyes or runny noses, you may not be alone. Your dog may also be allergic to grass.
What Causes Grass Allergies in Dogs?
When most people think about allergies in dogs, they don’t immediately jump to the idea that dogs can be allergic to grass. Some of the more common allergens in dogs like meat, dairy, wheat, and other food products might come to mind first. However, just like humans, dogs can be allergic to the grass too. Grass is an environmental allergen that can cause discomfort in both you and your pup.
What causes the allergy is not the grass your dog steps on but the pollen that flies around in the air. Microscopic spores of pollen can be absorbed through your dog’s skin or ingested through their nose and cause an allergic reaction. Severe cases can lead to inflammation of the airway, making it difficult for your pup to breathe.
Symptoms Of Grass Allergies in Dogs
The symptoms of grass allergies in dogs are very similar to the ones a human might get from exposure to pollen. Some of the most common symptoms to look out for, when taking your dog outside for a walk include:
- Excessive scratching and licking
- Bald spots from scratching
- Red and watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, they’re likely allergic to something, be it grass or not. Call the vet if you suspect an allergy to be the cause of your pup’s discomfort and act on their advice.
Diagnosis Of Grass Allergies in Dogs
Diagnosing an allergic dog is a difficult task. While the symptoms of allergies in dogs are highly similar to those in humans, they’re not always clear-cut. While some dogs have obvious symptoms when they’re exposed to a pollen-filled environment, others may not display any signs of discomfort as easily. What’s more, there is no special symptom to pinpoint an allergy. It could just be written off as dry skin or another skin affliction. Only a veterinarian can properly diagnose your dog so you should take them to the vet if your dog seems to be showing signs of an allergy.
Thus, you must always pay attention to your dog and notice any odd behavior. For example, a dog allergic to grass is likely to not have allergic symptoms during the winter and fall as grasses release pollen in the summer and spring. If you’ve noticed this or anything similar, mention it when talking to your vet. They will do a thorough physical examination and will surely help you find out if your dog is allergic and what it is that’s causing the reaction.
Can Grass Allergies Be Dangerous?
Allergies are different from person to person. They can vary in their sensitivity, severity, and even how they’re triggered. Allergies in dogs are no exception to this. While some allergic dogs may only experience light sneezing and itchiness, others may be at risk of some serious concerns. This holds true for grass allergies too. If left untreated, your dog could scratch themselves to the point of injury, creating wounds that can easily get infected. Grass allergies can also affect your dog’s stomach, causing diarrhea and vomiting.
In some severe cases, your dog could develop Atopic Dermatitis, a condition associated with allergies that leads to red, itchy and, inflamed skin. However, the worst-case scenario is anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal condition. So, it would be wise to consult your vet as soon as you notice even the smallest of symptoms.
Standard Treatment of Grass Allergies
Neither can you perfectly cure allergies nor can you prevent them. All you can do is try and mitigate the effects as much as you possibly can. The first thing you should do is consult your vet. They are sure to give you the best advice and help in any way possible.
Immunotherapy shots are a possible treatment, although they do not guarantee that your dog gets cured of their allergy. This procedure involves giving allergy shots to your dog, just like in humans. This is done in hopes of getting your dog’s immune system used to the allergen and possibly ignoring its presence completely. While it is effective, immunotherapy can take a long time to work. It may take months before your dog is completely desensitized. In rare cases, it may never work at all. If you do find out that your dog is allergic and want to try this procedure, talk to your vet about it.
Also, check out Can Dogs Be Allergic To Cats?
How You Can Help Your Allergic Dog
After a visit to the vet, you’ve found out that your dog is actually allergic to grass. While it may seem like there’s nothing you can do if you stay vigilant and take some precaution measures grass allergies are not as scary as you might think.
Here are 5 ways you can help your grass-allergic dog or at least minimize allergic reactions:
1. Keep your lawn mowed
Tall grasses usually release pollen. So, keep your lawn mowed to reduce the chances of your pooch coming into contact with pollen. Avoiding tall grasses when you’re out on a walk with your dog also helps minimize contact with pollen.
2. Wipe Your Dog After Going Out
Pollen can cling to your dog’s fur. Wiping down your pup’s feet and legs can remove any clingy pollen. We recommend using vet-approved medical wipes, but a warm, wet towel will do just fine. Click here to buy some plant-based wipes for your dog.
3. Use Anti-Itch Products
Using anti-itch shampoos and sprays can help relieve allergy symptoms and is recommended by many vets. For dogs allergic to grass, regular baths during pollen season with a medicated shampoo and a little anti-itch spray afterward should help minimize their discomfort. This Dry Skin &Itch Relief Pet Shampoo should come in handy.
4. Limit Time Outside During Pollen Season
During pollen season (late spring to early summer), limit the time your dog spends outdoors. Keep an eye out for high pollen count in your vicinity and avoid going out on those days. Daily walks shouldn’t be too much of a problem and playtime can be brought inside if there’s enough space.
5. Medicines and Supplements
In severe cases, your vet can recommend you to resort to medication like antihistamines. There may be a little trial and error until you find the right one for your pup, so you’re going to have to be patient. Omega-3 (fish oil) and Omega-6 supplements are said to help reduce inflammation and itchiness, so you can also try giving your dog some in case of allergies.
All dogs, regardless of age, gender, and species can develop allergies. However, the condition is said to be seen more frequently in:
- German Shepherds
- Miniature Schnauzers
If you own a dog of any of these breeds, exercising extra caution might be for the best.
To sum it up, yes, dogs can be allergic to grass. Your pooch might just develop hypersensitivity to grass pollen and have problems whenever they go out. If you suspect that your dog is allergic to something, pay a visit to your vet. They’ll let you know the best course of action for you and your dog.
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To explore more, check out other articles that we have covered on dog allergy.
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