Grass Allergies in Dogs: How to Treat Grass Pollen Allergies This Summer!

This post contains affiliate links.

September 13, 2022 / Dog Health / By: iPupster0 Comments

VET APPROVED
DVM Chyrle Bonk

Reviewed & Fact-Checked by

Dr. Chyrle Bonk
Veterinarian (DVM)
Learn more about our Veterinary Review Board »

Canine atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory disease of the skin caused by an allergic reaction to ingredients in food or things in the environment. It causes red, dry and itchy skin.

Just like humans, some dogs can develop allergies to grass, foods, pollen, dander or other things in the environment.

A "grass allergy" is triggered by the pollen that comes off certain grasses particularly during the spring and summer, mainly mid-May to mid-July.

These tiny spores are capable of eliciting an allergic reaction in some dogs where their immune system overreacts to having the pollen in their body. The result is inflammation in the form of redness, swelling and itchiness. 

Environmental allergies aren't limited to grasses. Insect pollinated flowers can also trigger an allergic reaction. 

Staffordshire Bull Terrier sitting in flower pot.

Photo Credit: Instagram/Bexdisney

All dog breeds can develop an allergy to grass pollen at any point in their lives, but, there is a higher risk in the following breeds: 

  • Boxers
  • Pugs
  • Dalmatians
  • Shar-Peis
  • Terriers
  • Retrievers
  • Bulldogs
  • German Shepherds
  • Setters
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Cocker Spaniels

Diagnosing Grass Pollen Allergies in Dogs

Determining whether your dog has a grass allergy can take some time. The method that you can do at home is to not let your dog in the grass for a couple of weeks.

If symptoms get better or clear up, you can let them out in the grass again. If symptoms come back, you know you're dealing with a grass allergy. 

Since dogs can be allergic to many different things in their environment besides just grasses, allergy testing to pinpoint the exact triggers may be necessary. 

A serum (blood) allergy test or an intradermal skin allergy test (IDST), which is carried out by an animal dermatologist may be used to see if grass pollen is the culprit.

The IDST test is considered the better of the two to help identify the relevant allergen.

Symptoms of Grass Allergies in Dogs

Pitbull chest rash skin infection

Photo Credit: Instagram/ricki.and.lori

The most common symptoms of a grass allergy are: scratching, rash, excessive licking, skin redness, and running of the eyes and nose. In severe cases it may even cause difficulty breathing. Coughing, sneezing, and wheezing may also occur. 

Here is a complete list of symptoms if your dog develops an allergic reaction to grass.

  • Itchy skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Hairloss (from scratching)
  • Constant licking
  • Scratching
  • Biting/chewing on tail and paws
  • Red rash/dry belly
  • Sore paws
  • Sneezing
  • Snoring
  • Crusty or moist skin

For snoring remedies read our post on how to stop your dog from snoring here.

Prevention of Grass Allergy Flare-ups

Of course, the best way to prevent a flare-up from grass allergies is to avoid being in the grass all together. This is definitely easier said than done, especially since most pups love to be out in the grass.

So, rather than confining your dog strictly indoors, try a few of these methods:

  • Grass boots can be worn by your dog when you let them outside to protect against grass contact. These are particularly great if your pup gets swollen paws and abscesses.
  • Keep your grass cut short!
  • Mow your yard before seed heads are produced to help decrease the amount of pollen.
  • Remove any weeds since these can also trigger allergies in your pet. 
  • Bath your dog regularly to remove allergens. Wipe their feet when they come in from outside.
  • Use an air filter in your home to remove pollen and mold from the air.

Common weeds that flare up grass allergies include:

  • Russian Thistle
  • Dog Fennel
  • English Plantain
  • Mugworts
  • Marsh Elder
  • Dandelions
  • Sorrels
  • Sage brushes
  • Burning Bush

Treatment

Before beginning treatment, allergy testing with your veterinarian can be a valuable way to see what your pup is sensitive to.  After that, it's all about controlling the inflammation on the skin in the following ways.

Topical products: shampoos, topical ointment such as a cortisone cream (Triamcinolone Topical) or gel, sprays can be used on smaller areas. 

Oral products: corticosteroids, antihistamines, fatty acids, cyclosporine are more commonly used for issues affecting larger areas.

Topical Shampoos & Conditioners

Dog getting shampooed to eliminate dander and allergens

Photo Credit: Instagram/the_vegan_concept

These are medicated shampoos for treating dogs with sensitive or inflamed skin. If your dog is super itchy look for a sensitive canine shampoo to help relieve symptoms. Choose from either an OatmealAloe-Vera or a Herbal Shampoo.

Pros

  • Gets rid of antigens from the skin's surface so minimizes the allergen load.
  • Soothes irritated skin

Cons

  • Can be time consuming.
  • Thick haired dog coats can be harder to clean.

Fatty Acid Supplements

These are of the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that are natural anti-inflammatories. Omega fatty acids can be taken orally or rubbed onto itchy skin. 

Pros

  • Improves skin and fur condition
  • May reduce skin inflammation

Cons

  • Few side effects
  • Gradual noticeable improvements, may take up to 10 weeks.

Antihistamines

These include: Zyrtec, Benadryl, Tavist, Claritin, Temaril and Elavil.  In the case of antihistamines, there may be a little trial and error until you find the right one for your pup. Generally a couple of weeks is required for the antihistamines to work. First check in with your veterinarian for the correct dose to give your dog especially if they are on any other medications to be on the safe side.

Pros

  • May help your pet sleep better at night
  • May reduce skin inflammation

Cons

  • Some antihistamines can cause sedation especially at higher doses.
  • Can be a little time consuming until the right antihistamine is found that works on your pet.

Corti-costeroids

Corti-costeroids such as prednisolone and prednisone may be prescribed by your vet.  These are strong anti-inflammatories and are usually used as a last ditch effort since long-term use can come with some side effects. 

Pros

  • Most effective at healing skin inflammation and itching relief.

Cons

  • Numerous side effects including increased appetite and water consumption, weight gain, and prolonged wound healing.

Cyclosporine

Cyclosporine is an immunomodulator, which means that it controls immune function in dogs. This helps to decrease the immune system’s reaction to allergens.

Pros

  • Highly effective at healing skin inflammation and itching relief.

Cons

  • Expensive
  • It can make some dogs sick.

Finally

It is frustrating and sad to see your pup suffer with skin allergies and feeling helpless.

The first step is to identify the allergens causing the problem and try to avoid them.

Consult your vet to find out what is the best way for you to determine what your dog is allergic to and how you can best treat and avoid it.

WRITTEN BY

iPupster

At iPupster, we're dedicated to bringing high-quality content to help owners take better care of their furry friends. Our team of expert contributors is made up of skilled writers, trainers and enthusiastic pet parents. With an affinity for and love of pets, we apply what we learn and share our knowledge with our readers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

MORE GREAT READS

How to pick an anti inflammatory supplement or food for dogs

16 Natural Anti Inflammatory Foods for Dogs: Canine Joint Pain Relief!

Protein Rich Foods for Dogs

What Is The Best Meat Protein For Dogs To Eat?