Grass allergies are common in dogs and caused by grass pollen. The pollen floats in the air, so dogs do not need to be physically in the grass for their allergies to be triggered.
Allergy attacks tend to occur more often in fall and spring, when pollen is more abundant due to the variation of seasonal grass species. However, more sensitive dogs can have grass attacks all year round.
Grass allergies can occur at any age and in any dog breed. Nevertheless, most dogs exhibit grass allergies after 1 year of age due to previous exposure to allergens (pollen), and some breeds are more prone to them than others, such as the German Shepherd and the Golden Retriever. Although the clinical signs can cause your dog discomfort, grass allergies are rarely life threatening.
What Are Grass Allergies in Dogs?
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system determines a non-harmful substance (allergen) in the body’s environment to be a threat. For example, if your dog plays in a certain type of grass (e.g., ryegrass), and their immune system sees this grass as a threat, an allergic reaction will occur. Other species of grass that can cause allergies in dogs are:1
Pollen allergies can be caused by weeds, such as ragweed or pigweed.
Certain dog breeds are more sensitive and prone to allergies and allergic skin reactions produced by grass, including:
The predisposition to grass allergies is also influenced by geographical location.
What Are the Signs of Grass Allergies in Dogs?
Many owners do not realize that their dog is allergic to grass because the clinical signs usually disappear once the allergen is removed from the pet’s environment. For this reason, it is recommended to take your dog to the vet for an evaluation if you notice a change in their behavior or general mood, especially with the arrival of spring or autumn.
Pollen can cause skin allergies and atopy (an inflammatory skin condition).4 For an allergic dog, the pollen that reaches the surface of the skin is irritating, causing intense itching, licking, biting, and scratching. They may even create bald spots with open lesions, which can become infected.
Paws are among the most sensitive areas of the body, and they can easily come into contact with pollen scattered on the sidewalk or in the grass. Allergic dogs will lick and bite their paws more intensely than usual. The irritation causes discomfort, red and swollen paws, and in some cases, limping.
Here are the signs that you should look for if you suspect that your dog is allergic to grass:
In rare cases, signs of anaphylactic shock can be observed, which include:
Anaphylactic shock is life threatening, which makes it a medical emergency. If their airways swell, dogs can die because they cannot breathe.
How Do Vets Treat Grass Allergies in Dogs?
Allergies can be treated topically (locally) with specific ointments or creams or generally with antihistamine medication or steroids. Unfortunately, your dog will have to deal with this sensitivity for the rest of their life.
For skin allergies, frequent bathing with medicated shampoos is also recommended. Bathing will reduce itching and soothe your dog’s skin. Daily brushing can also help because it removes allergens from your dog’s fur.
Supplementing your dog’s diet with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help your four-legged friend with the itching and inflammation caused by their grass allergy.
How Long Will It Take for My Dog to Recover From a Grass Allergy?
A grass allergy cannot be cured, but if you and your veterinarian find a treatment that works well, you will likely administer it to your dog for the rest of their life. When you stop the treatment, the clinical signs can return and might be more severe.
In general, it takes up to a year for dogs with severe grass allergies to show signs of improvement. In mild allergies, improvement can be seen in a few weeks.
How to Prevent Grass Allergies In Dogs
Pollen cannot be avoided because you can’t lock your dog in the house forever, and even if you tried, pollen can be transported on your clothes or enter the house through the window. What you can do to help your allergic dog is to take a few measures to reduce the effects:
Dogs can be allergic to grass and more precisely, to pollen. A grass allergy can occur at any age and breed, but certain breeds are more prone, such as Pugs, Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Bulldogs. Grass allergy has no treatment, but if it is detected early, the clinical signs can be considerably reduced. Dogs that are allergic to grass recover in a few weeks with treatment in case of mild allergy or up to a year in case of severe allergy. To reduce the effects, you can mow your lawn often, shake your clothes before entering the house, and wash your dog with hypoallergenic shampoo. In most cases, grass allergies do not endanger dogs’ lives.
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