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What are Grass Allergies?

Your dog gets allergies just like you do, from different foods (corn, grain, fish, chicken, beef) to pollen, dander, and fleas. A grass allergy is caused by the pollen that floats through the air even though we cannot see it. These microscopic spores can be absorbed by your dog’s skin and cause an allergic reaction. In addition, your dog’s fur can pick up pollen, not just from grass but from other surfaces that have grass pollen on them, such as the ground. As a matter of fact, even if you keep your dog inside during the spring and early summer, you can be bringing in the pollen on your clothes, shoes, and body. Some of the symptoms are scratching, licking excessively, rash, red and oozing skin, and redness and watering of the eyes and nose. If your dog has a severe reaction, it may produce inflammation of the airway (anaphylaxis) and cause a constriction that makes it hard to breathe. Anaphylaxis due to grass pollen inhalation is not well recorded in dogs,  but researchers feel it can be a possible occurence. Because of this, if you notice your dog sneezing, coughing, and wheezing you need to go to an animal hospital right away.

Dogs with a grass allergy will have many different symptoms that are difficult to diagnose. The scratching and inflammation may be mistaken for fleas, dry skin, or chronic dermatitis when it is actually the grass that your dog is allergic to. In fact, it is not the grass causing the skin irritation, but the grass pollen. That is why your dog may seem fine during the fall and winter, and is only affected when the pollen is being released from the grass. Even if you get rid of the grass and have a rock garden instead of a lawn, your dog will have symptoms anyway due to the airborne grass pollen.

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Symptoms of Grass Allergies in Dogs

Symptoms of grass allergy may vary, but the most often reported are:

 Types

All dogs of any species, gender, and age can develop an allergy to grass, but it is more frequently seen in:

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Causes of Grass Allergies in Dogs

Grass allergies in dogs are caused by pollen, which is the powdery yellow material that you see all over everything in the spring and summer. This powder is the substance that flowers and grasses put out to be transported from plant to plant by the birds, bees, or wind. There are several ways your dog can be exposed to grass pollen:

  • Absorbed through the skin
  • Breathed into lungs
  • Brought into the house by owners or guests who then pet your dog
  • Licking fur with pollen on it
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Diagnosis of Grass Allergies in Dogs

Diagnosing your dog may be hard to do because it seems to be just a general, all-over itchiness and the veterinarian may think it is just dry skin or chronic dermatitis. You should mention to the veterinary team the seasonal differences (if your dog is fine during the winter and fall) so they can test for grass allergy. The veterinarian will do a complete and thorough physical exam including vital signs, general health, skin and coat condition, and will order laboratory tests. Some of the tests your veterinarian may suggest are a complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, electrolyte level, bacterial and fungal swab, urinalysis, and fecal examination.

Even with a physical examination, the veterinarian may not suspect an allergy to grass because skin afflictions are so common. However, if your dog is fine during the winter and fall, but itchy in the spring and summer, grass is probably the culprit. It can also be accompanied by sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and runny nose, which are not related to chronic dermatitis so be sure to mention these to your veterinarian.

Serum Allergy Test

If you think grass pollen is the cause of your dog’s itchiness, be sure to mention this to your veterinarian and ask for a serum allergy test. This test is done by using a blood sample that is tested under a microscope for signs of allergic response. If the test is positive, your veterinarian will send you to a pet dermatologist to do an intradermal allergy test.

Intradermal Allergy Testing

This test is done by the dermatologist and costs a little more than other tests, but it is considered to be the most accurate test for topical allergens. In this procedure, your dog will be sedated and they will shave an area to be tested (usually on the side). The dermatologist will use a small needle to inject your dog with different allergens (usually about 50-75 of them) and wait to see if they show signs of inflammation or redness. This usually only takes about five minutes.

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Treatment of Grass Allergies in Dogs

The best treatments for any allergy in dogs are corticosteroids, antihistamines, and a topical ointment, such as a cortisone cream or gel. Additionally, a special shampoo may be prescribed to decrease the itching and an antibiotic to prevent infection.

Immunotherapy Shots

These shots are just like allergy shots for humans, and they are effective but can take a long time to work. The veterinarian will show you how to give your dog a shot with a small amount of allergen (grass) daily, adding a bit more each day to desensitize your dog to grass gradually. The problem with this method is that it can sometimes take several months of shots before your dog is fully desensitized. In rare cases, it may never work. Also, these shots can trigger a serious reaction called anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening emergency. Your veterinarian can provide you with an epinephrine pen (epi-pen) to inject your dog with epinephrine in case this complication happens.

Treating the Skin

Your dog’s skin is the best way to determine allergies, so it is important to get the skin back to normal as soon as possible. A hypoallergenic shampoo and cortizone cream for the rash and inflammation will help relieve the itching within a few days.

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Recovery of Grass Allergies in Dogs

Usually, your dog will show improvement within the first several months, but it can take up to 12 months in some dogs. Immunotherapy or skin creams do not cure the allergies, but it does make your dog more comfortable and can prevent a secondary infection from scratching. No matter which treatment works for your dog, you have to stick to the regimen for the rest of your dog’s life in order for it to work. If you stop the treatment, the symptoms will come back and they may be worse than before. If you have questions or concerns, give your veterinarian a call right away.

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Grass Allergies Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Written by Kim Rain

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 08/17/2016, edited: 04/06/2021

Grass Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Boston terrier Mix

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3.5 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Grass Alergy

I took my puppy out for a walk and he played in the grass and his chest and legs are pink i put some vasaline what should i do?

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 23, 2020

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

My two staffy girls they are 3 and 1 they both lie on the fake grass in the sun and they come in scratching and licking especially under their arms and belly and they are red raw and have scabbed some sores where they keep licking

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is okay. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment that might be needed.

Oct. 24, 2020

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Pit mix

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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5 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

Was playing in the grass this morning at the park and now everything is red in his chest down to his boy parts when I touch it he cry’s out

Sept. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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5 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that he is not feeling well. It sounds like he is reacting quite severely to something. You can try a couple of things, including giving him a cool water bath, washing off whatever got on his skin, and you can try giving him one mg per pound of Benadryl. A 50 lb dog would get 50 mg of Benadryl. If those things are not helping he is still red and painful, then he needs to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. He may need stronger medications. I hope that he is okay.

Sept. 5, 2020

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Pit mix

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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His Whole Chest Is Red All The Way Down To His His Boy Parts

When I tired to touch it he cried out

Sept. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that he is not feeling well. It sounds like he is reacting quite severely to something. You can try a couple of things, including giving him a cool water bath, washing off whatever got on his skin, and you can try giving him one mg per pound of Benadryl. A 50 lb dog would get 50 mg of Benadryl. If those things are not helping he is still red and painful, then he needs to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. He may need stronger medications. I hope that he is okay.

Sept. 5, 2020

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Terrier mix

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Breathing Fast Licking Paws

Hi there, my dog has been breathing rapidly on and off for the past few months (when it happens, around 70 breaths/min) and we’ve done two ultrasounds, an x-ray, and a blood Test and urinalysis And everything came back normal. Her gums are bright pink, so it seems like she’s getting enough oxygen. It sounds like her nose is stuffed up. We are in a place with a lot of grass, and she runs around in it. Could it be grass allergies? Or is there something else you think it could be?

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. She has had many diagnostics, and it seems that you would safely be able to try some anti histamines to see if that helps her as this point, if nothing else has shown up as the cause. It would certainly be worth discussing with your veterinarian, as there are many good anti histamines for dogs that can be given for potential allergies. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 30, 2020

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Abby

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Labrador Retriever

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Shaking Her Head, Rubbing Her Ears

Hi, I have an adopted rescue lab who has very itchy ears. The vet cannot find any infection, etc that would cause this; I've changed her food to grain free, I've used ear ointment, OTC allergy meds, she had a shot for allergies which should have lasted a month but only worked for a little over a week, washed bedding, etc. She eats grass constantly not because she's sick but I think she just loves it. My question is, could there be any corrolation between eating grass and intense itchy ears, which are not red and do not smell.

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Sophie

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Blue Heeler

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Red Rash

Sophie has started getting a red rash on her belly. Almost smells yeasty but only on her belly. We just moved into a house with a backyard of Bermuda grass. It's only happening in fall and winter. I give her brewers yeast during the week but it gets worse when we come back on the weekends. Benedryl helps along with cream but it's short term. Is this more of a yeast infection or an allergy problem?

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Casey

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Labrador Retriever

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11 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Hot Red Hives On Belly

Casey, 11 month old Lab broke out last fall with hives on her belly and legs. We took her to the vet who gave her a shot and she was fine until about March when she broke out again. We thought it was a food allergy so we changed to a salmon and sweet potato food. Now we think it is something from outside. We just did another shot from the vet to help her, but we can't keep spending $120 at the vet to help with this. Is there something better to give her that is more affordable?

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Kenna

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Jack Russell Chihuahua mix

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Watery Eyes
Dandruff
Scratching
Bumps
Red Rash

My dog has had a bad rash on her belly and legs. She scratched and bites so much that shit is losing hair on her lower back and legs. It only happens in the summer time though. I had her get take a skin graph of the little bumps on her leg to check for mites and it was negative. She also gets really bad dandruff and watery eyes. What would be the best way to help her without having to go spend a bunch of money at the vet?

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Riley

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Border Collie

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Skin Issues

Hello, My Border Collie Riley has been through so much with what we first thought that was food allergies but to make an extremely long story short, it turns out that she is allergic to grass and trees. I never thought that even though I was feeding her a limited ingredient food that I was actually feeding her grass because alfalfa was an ingredient in it. Now we are feeding her Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe(I still read the ingredients to make sure that it is not in it). ONE THING THAT WORKED FOR Riley is she gets a Cynopoint injection, (CYTOPOINT is a safe, effective, long-lasting treatment for chronic itch due to allergic or atopic dermatitis. It is an injection that is given by your veterinarian that targets itch at its source. CYTOPOINT works like your dog’s own immune system. It is specifically designed to target and neutralize one of the main proteins that send itch signals to your dog’s brain that triggers scratching, licking, and chewing. CYTOPOINT blocks signals that trigger itch, so the constant scratching can stop, and red, irritated skin can heal. In fact, in a study, CYTOPOINT helped damaged skin begin to heal within 7 days.) It might sound like I work for the company but I do not I just want to let folks know that this is out there, it works for Riley and I can tell you that this is a blessing for all of us!

Grass Allergies Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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