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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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Grass Allergies Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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French Bulldog

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Two years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bumps Like Hives

We recently cut our grass normally we water it right after but today we didnt, my dog went outside sat in the grass for a while, also its 100 degrees here lol. She came back inside and after maybe 15 mins she had raised bumps all over popping up everywhere and scratching like crazy. I gave her some benadryl helped a tiny bit. Is there anything else I can give her? It's only been maybe a couple hours I could just be over reacting lol.

July 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello From what you are describing, it sounds like your pup is having an allergic reaction. She may be allergic to something in the grass outside or was bit by an insect or bug. Benadryl can help but if the hives do not go away after 1-2 hours, it is recommended that you take her to a veterinarian clinic right away. They will want to give a shot of Benadryl and maybe a steroid shot. Hope your pup feels better soon.

July 15, 2020

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Mixed Sharpei and press o canaries bull mastiff

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hives All Overthe Body

My dog refuses to step on grass anymore. Hives seem to return as soon as the benedryl stops taking effect. We have doused him with a 1:3 solution of apple cider vinegar. He may also be reacting to a flea and tick medication that was applied from his neck to his tail.

July 12, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello, If your dog is continuing to have hives he may need to see a vet. They can give him steroids and prescription allergy medication to help. A common prescription allergy medication given to dogs is Apoquel. This medication should help your dog feel much better. I hope your dog feels much better soon.

July 12, 2020

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LUCY

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French Bulldog

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6 Years

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Fair severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Licking
Scratching
Dry Skin

Our dog walker took our French Bulldog to the park and the next day we noticed she was red all over. Under her belly, her paws, her snout, and even in her ears. We think it's some sort of grass allergy. What over the counter medicine can we give her? Do you recommend any shampoo we can get her?

July 2, 2018

LUCY's Owner

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2 Recommendations

A general mild sensitive shampoo for allergies should be sufficient to bathe her with, however you may give her some Benadryl at 1mg/lb up to three times per day for the allergy; monitor her for improvement and keep her indoors and walk her only on solid ground for a week and see if there is any improvement. If there is no improvement or the severity gets worse visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 3, 2018

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Biscuit

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Shepherd mix

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6 Years

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Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Ear Odor
Lethargy
Itching
Scratching
Lack Of Appetite
Fur Loss
Baldness
Swollen Paws

My dog is a shepherd mix, he is 6 years old and for the last 2 years has done nothing but scratch and chew himself bald no matter what I try. I have done the steroid shots, allergy shots, treatment for the secondary infections, and changed up his food and even have moved to a different apartment. He always has tip toed through the grass or tried to avoid it so it didn't surprise me that he is allergic to it. I have tried everything that the vet has recommended and still he remains bald and itchy...I hate seeing him suffering but I don't know what else to do for him. I live in Texas so it is way too hot here to walk him on the sidewalks without hurting his poor feet so that also makes this difficult. I would appreciate any additional suggestions to try and help my boy!

June 29, 2018

Biscuit's Owner

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2 Recommendations

The problem with grass allergies is that they are practically impossible to handle if the dog walks on the grass; I understand that in Texas it can be too hot to walk on roads or pavement but other options like boots to walk on solid ground may be helpful once Biscuit is used to them. The best way to handle allergies is to remove the dog from the allergen or the allergen from the dog. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 29, 2018

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Bella and Dublin

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German shepherd mix

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7 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Hot Spot
Flakey Skin
Dry Skin
Constantly Itchy

For years I've been trying to treat my dogs' allergies. I've tried so many diets, currently using Natural Balance grain free Sweet Potato and Fish Formula along with a portion of roasted turkey with carrots. I'm constantly searching for fleas and using advantage. I bring them to the vet for steroid injections and prescribed pills to give them. However, it only helps for so long. Every night I give them Benadryl to help them sleep through the night and relieve allergies. Nothing helps my poor doggies :( I don't know what else to do. I've noticed that now it's being to get warmer out that their allergies are worse than ever. They are always eating grass and I was wondering if that could be a cause of their progressive hair loss. Can increasing their Benadryl dose help if I give them each 1 in the morning?

June 1, 2018

Bella and Dublin's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Dogs with allergies can be frustrating (the allergies not the dogs) as it can seem that they are allergic to anything and everything; also it is unusual for two dogs living together to be allergic to the same thing. Benadryl may be given to dogs at 1mg/lb up to three times per day but you should check with your Veterinarian if they are on any other medication to be on the safe side. Allergy testing may be useful as well to help narrow in on possible allergens, it may be expensive but better in the long term. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 2, 2018

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Grass Allergies Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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