Similar to people, dogs can be prone to pollen-related allergies, including grass pollen. This is one of the most classic skin diseases related to dogs. Pollen, being the allergen, means that your dog isn’t allergic to the grass itself, but to grass pollen. Dogs can also develop allergic reactions from inhaling grass pollens, even if you don’t have a lawn.
Interestingly enough, allergies, including pollen-related allergies, are due to an overactive immune system. It accordingly mistakes grass pollens for a threat and “fights back” with an allergic reaction. Some breeds, like Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, are more susceptible to pollen-related allergies. Because the problem is genetic, dogs are prone to inherit this condition from their predecessors. Dogs usually start showing symptoms between the ages of three months and six years.
Although, like people, dogs can sneeze and develop irritated, red and watery eyes, their symptoms are mostly an itchy face (specifically around the eyes and muzzle), groin and belly, as well as ears, feet (usually between the toes) and armpits. This irritation will probably cause your dog to rub, lick and bite the affected areas. Unfortunately, if left untreated, this can lead to raised ridges on the skin, open sores, infection and loss of hair.
It is accordingly very important to take your dog to a vet the moment you notice any of the above symptoms. In extreme cases it may be necessary to treat the allergy symptoms with medication, eg antihistamines, cyclosporine and corticosteroids, or allergy vaccinations. A topical antimicrobial treatment can also be prescribed. Unfortunately pollen-related allergies can be treated, but not cured.
As a preventative measure, do not over-vaccinate you dog (this is not related to the above-mentioned allergy vaccines), since they strengthen the immune system, which is the main culprit here. Also make sure that you use a pro-biotic when your dog is prescribed an anti-biotic, since it is important for your dog to maintain the correct balance of gut bacteria. Dogs with grass allergies should be kept inside whenever the lawn is being mowed. You should also keep your lawn mowed at all times and avoid walking your dog in areas with tall grass in order to minimize contact with pollens. In extreme cases, it might be necessary to put a strict limit on your dog’s outside time. Otherwise, just be sure to keep him/her indoors when pollen counts are high; usually in late spring and summer. When your dog has been outside it is very important to wipe your dog down. You can also install air filters in your home to prohibit pollen from entering your house. Further, use an anti-itching shampoo when bathing your dog and regularly spray the affected areas with an anti-itching spray. Apart from regular baths, also give your dog regular foot soaks. This is to prevent him/her from spreading the allergens indoors. Vets also recommend supplementing your dog’s food with Omega 3 Fish Oil and Omega 6 Fatty Acids.
Lastly, remember to give your dog loads of love. It’s not nice being itchy and sneezy all the time. TLC is always required.