Does tree pollen make you sneeze or ragweed cause your eyes to itch? Chances are, you pop an antihistamine or use eye drops when your allergies kick in.
But what can you do when your dog has an allergic reaction? And how can you tell the cause?
Environmental irritants, like dust and pollen, are among the most common allergies in dogs. And, yes, your pooch could be allergic to a specific plant.
According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, “some of the most common triggers in dogs are tree, grass and weed pollens, mold and dust.” If you think your canine best friend is allergic to grass, here are some signs to watch for.
Got an itch? Does your dog continually scratch yet never seem to feel relief? According to VCA Hospitals, “in most dogs, inhalant allergy manifests with itchy skin.”
If your pup has an insatiable itch, despite regular flea and tick treatment, this could be a sign of an allergy. When exposed to an irritant, dogs can develop rashes, hives, or dermatitis, just as people can.
You may not notice hives on your dog’s skin if his fur hides them. But you might notice patches of swollen, red, flaky, or broken skin.
These may be more visible where there is less hair, such as inside the ears. According to PetMD, dermatitis is generally “localized to one or two spots, but can spread all over the dog’s body.” Due to excessive scratching, your dog may also show hair loss in affected areas.
Recurring ear infections
It’s happening again? Ear infections are particularly common in dogs with untreated environmental allergies. According to The American Kennel Club, grass pollen may cause skin reactions and dermatitis.”
If your dog’s ears are affected, excessive scratching can tear the delicate skin. When open ear wounds are left vulnerable, bacteria can enter the bloodstream, leading to infection.
Before you diagnose your dog with an allergy, make sure his ears are checked for mites. Other pests, like fleas and ticks, can also cause itching, hives, and dermatitis. But if ear infections still keep coming back, it’s likely a sign of an untreated allergy.
Sores on the paws
Sore feet? If your dog has swollen, raw or irritated skin on his paws, he’s probably been biting them. Open sores are another indication. Dogs often lick, chew, or bite their paws when they itch. VetStreet reports that “allergic skin disease is the most common reason why canines lick and chew their feet.”
If your dog is allergic to grass, his paws may be affected when he walks or plays outside. Your dog may also react if he breaths in the pollen frequently. However he’s exposed, if his paws itch, he’s going to want to scratch.
This itchy reaction, according to VetStreet, manifests in “symptoms such as rashes, scabs, pustules, ear infections, backside rubbing, and just plain scratching.” Cesar’s Way explains that dogs will try just about anything to alleviate the itch, including chewing on their own skin.
Runny nose or watery eyes
Need a tissue? If your dog has noticeably watery eyes or a runny nose, these are likely signs of an environmental irritant. PetMD reports that while these “symptoms are less pronounced than in humans,” they can be signs of a grass allergy.
Even a scratchy or raspy throat can be a sign of a grass allergy, according to PetMD.
If your dog shows any of these symptoms, particularly in conjunction with others, grass pollen may be the culprit.
Sneezing or congestion
Bless you! While itchy skin and digestive problems can be symptoms of food allergies, sneezing only seems to occur in inhalant allergies.
Dogs aren’t as prone to this symptom as humans, but sneezing can still mean your dog is allergic. VCA Hospitals reports that “in some cases, the symptoms involve the respiratory system, with coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing.”
Wheezing or trouble breathing
Take a deep breath, now. If your dog is coughing, wheezing, or having trouble breathing, these can be signs of an allergy.
Exposure to an inhaled irritant can cause your dog to cough or wheeze in the same way an irritant does for you. PetGP reports that coughing from “pollens, grasses, and air fresheners are quite common.”
Even if a cough doesn’t seem serious, it can be a sign. The College Of Veterinary Medicine at WSU reports that some dogs have “difficulty breathing between coughing episodes.”
Further, if the skin inside your dog’s throat is swollen, it may lead to further raspatory problems. Although it is rarer, Animal Planet states that swelling may also “affect the throat and make breathing difficult.”
However, be aware that there are many causes of coughing and wheezing in dogs. Bronchitis, kennel cough, and infections are among the top causes.
Swelling of the face
What big eyes you have! Angioedema, or swelling of tissue below the skin, can also be a sign of a grass allergy. Dogs who are allergic to grass may be prone to facial swelling. According to Animal Planet, this usually occurs around the eyes and the muzzle.
Animal Planet also reports that this symptom generally occurs within 20 minutes of exposure. Watch for this sign while your dog is playing outside, or when you take him for a walk. Take note if you detect abnormal puffiness or swelling when he’s walking, running, or rolling in the grass.
Refusal to go outside
What’s up? Some dogs seem to know what’s causing their irritations. If your dog is suddenly reluctant to go outside, he may be avoiding the allergen. This is more likely in the spring or fall when particular pollens are rife.
He may also refuse to go to particular areas. Even if your dog doesn’t know precisely what is causing his symptoms, he may learn to avoid the object of his irritation. Pay attention if your dog doesn’t want to walk in particular areas. He may even refuse to get out of the car at the park.
If you notice symptoms of grass allergies in your dog, try to keep him away from the irritant. You should also book an appointment with your vet to discuss potential treatments.