Most owners should be aware that dogs can have allergies. But can dogs be allergic to pollen and grass? Find out all about pollen allergies and hay fever in dogs here.
Pollen Allergy as an Environmental Allergy
To come to the point: Yes, dogs can be allergic to pollen and grass. In this case, experts speak of an environmental allergy, similar to an allergy to house dust mites. In comparison to other allergies, environmental allergies in dogs are rare. However, they are on the rise. With a pollen allergy, four-legged friends, like some people, are allergic to certain grasses or pollen. Your immune system switches to defense mode when it comes into contact with the allergens. This overreaction leads to allergy symptoms in the dog.
Symptoms of Hay Fever in the Dog
With a pollen allergy, the symptoms appear seasonally. This gives us – with a little patience – a good way of distinguishing them from other allergies. In contrast to hay fever in humans, dogs with pollen allergies rarely suffer from sneezing and runny noses. Symptoms of a pollen allergy in dogs include:
- reddened eyes;
- crusts from scratching;
- skin infections with pustules and wheals;
- bald spots;
- rare: shortness of breath.
The skin symptoms mainly occur where the dog comes into contact with the allergens. So around the paws, on the lower abdomen, and in the head area. The symptoms described on the skin, in particular, can have many other causes. For example, an infestation with parasites such as mites or other allergies. A combination of different allergies is also possible.
When Does Hay Fever Occur in Dogs?
As in humans, the first symptoms of hay fever can occur in dogs as early as mid-February. Then Hazel and alder pollen fly through the air. As spring progresses, poplar, willow, ash, hornbeam, and birch are added. Grass pollen and associated allergic reactions are in the high season from mid-May to mid-July. Depending on which allergen your dog reacts to, his hay fever can be limited to a few weeks. If he reacts to several pollen, the symptoms can last for around six months. However, this is rarely the case. It makes sense to familiarize yourself with a pollen count calendar.
Allergy Diagnosis at the Veterinarian
Make an appointment with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may have an allergy. It is advisable to keep a pollen diary if a dog is suspected of having a pollen allergy. Make a note of your dog’s symptoms and the amount of pollen count for the day in question. You can find these on many weather portals. If you do not know what kind of allergy it is, a food diary can be useful in parallel. These “allergy diaries” can give your veterinarian valuable information to support a diagnosis. The vet may also do a prick test or examine the airway secretions.
Therapy: Treat Pollen Allergy in Dogs
Those suffering from hay fever among the readers suspect it: A pollen allergy is incurable. Therapy for the dog aims to reduce the symptoms as much as possible. It is based on different pillars.
Try to keep your dog’s exposure to pollen and grasses as low as possible. Use a vacuum cleaner with a special allergen filter and pollen protection fleece on the windows in the apartment. Wash the blankets of your four-legged friend regularly at 60 degrees. In the case of severe allergies, it can be helpful to clean the fur in which the pollen clings with a special shampoo. However, discuss this with your veterinarian. Because here the condition of the entire skin plays an important role. In any case, it makes sense to wipe paws and face with a damp cloth after the walk. Use a pollen count calendar to plan longer trips. For example, after rain showers, the pollen concentration is much lower.
Desensitization for pollen allergy
When desensitized, the vet gradually injects tiny amounts of the allergens into the dog to get the body used to them. In the best case, the allergy symptoms subside after a few sessions. However, desensitization does not always lead to success. Experts also refer to this type of therapy as immunotherapy.
Medicines for hay fever in dogs
The vet can prescribe medication to relieve symptoms, such as itching. Antihistamines, which help many people allergic to pollen, only improve symptoms in one in three dogs. Cortisone is effective but has some potential side effects. Since seasonal environmental allergies such as pollen allergies are only used for a short time, cortisone can be a pragmatic solution. Some animal lovers report that homeopathic remedies for hay fever helped their dog with pollen allergy. Ask an animal healer for advice.
Can You Prevent Hay Fever in Dogs?
In general, dogs are rarely affected by pollen allergies. Food allergies or allergies to parasites such as fleas and mites are far more common. Certain breeds are more prone to allergies than others. Responsible breeders, therefore, do not breed dogs that have allergies. Sufficient time with the mother who is suckling the puppies, as well as a high-quality diet, help to keep the dog’s body in balance. This prevents allergies. Experts suspect that a healthy microbiome in the intestine – that is, the entirety of the “good” intestinal bacteria – can protect against allergies such as hay fever.