Grass Allergy in Dogs

By Christie Gross

dog image by Ergün Özsoy from Fotolia.com

Grass pollen allergies are a common canine atopy allergen. Atopy allergens represent a group of irritants dogs inhale, such as dust, pollen and mold spores. Dogs generally suffer from grass pollen allergies on a seasonal basis--the time the irritant is at its peak. When a dog comes in contact with grass pollen, he may itch. Treatment is available to help alleviate allergy symptoms and provide your dog much needed relief.

Grass Pollen Allergies

Dogs with grass allergies are actually allergic to the pollen it generates and not the actual grass blade. All types of grasses release pollen into the air, but Bermuda grass produces the most of each grass type.

Symptoms

Dogs inhale grass pollen when they’re outdoors. The pollen triggers an allergic reaction causing him to itch. According to Sniksnak.com, itching may be localized, occurring on parts of his body that touch the grass pollen, or generalized, resulting in itching all over his body. The itch may be so intense that the dog continuously scratches and chews on his skin and coat, which can cause inflammation, loss of hair and sores. The dog may also lick his legs, paws and coat.

Diagnosis

A grass pollen allergy is often diagnosed using a skin test conducted by a veterinarian. A patch of hair is removed from the dog to bare his skin. A small amount of various allergens are injected underneath the skin’s surface. The dog is monitored for skin reactions indicating a particular allergen. Skin testing is an effective way to identify canine allergies even though it’s not completely foolproof.

Treatment

Avoidance is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction in dogs. Peteducation.com recommends limiting time outside, keeping grass short and bathing the dog regularly to prevent grass pollen from accumulating on his coat.

Peteducation.com notes fatty acids recently have been found to reduce symptoms associated with allergies in some dogs. Fatty acids are found in fish oil and are safe and effective with little side effects reported.

Steroids and antihistamines prescribed by a veterinarian can block the allergic reaction from happening when the dogs exposed to the irritant and reduce allergy symptoms.

Allergy injections are sometimes used when other treatments provide the dog little relief and avoidance isn’t possible. This treatment exposes the dog to small amounts of grass pollen through a series of weekly or monthly injections. The goal is to help the dog build resistance to the irritant over time. Peteducation.com reports that allergy injections have a success rate of about 80 percent in preventing allergic reactions and/or reducing allergy symptoms.

Consideration

Dogs with grass allergies don’t necessarily need to be kept off grass during pollen-producing season. However, keeping your grass mowed and limiting its movement may help decrease the amount of pollen in the air.

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Author

Christie Gross has been writing since 1998. Her work writing public policy platforms for elected officials nationwide has been featured in national and local newspapers under various client pen names. Gross has a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.