Symptoms That My Dog Is Allergic to Grass

by Jean Marie Bauhaus Google
Grass pollen is a common cause of atopic dermatitis in dogs.

Grass pollen is a common cause of atopic dermatitis in dogs.

Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Just as some people get hay fever, some dogs are susceptible to airborne allergens such as grass pollen. Dogs sometimes experience respiratory problems, but more often their allergies cause skin irritation and itching. Grass pollen is one of many allergens that can cause atopy in your dog; often, more than one allergen is responsible for symptoms. To be sure whether grass is the culprit, your vet will have to do allergy testing on your dog to identify specific allergens.

Seasonality and Age of Onset

Typically, dogs with atopy only have itchiness during the seasons when allergens such as pollen are most prevalent. This means that allergic dogs may find relief during the winter months -- though in 80 percent of atopic dermatitis cases, dogs who have suffered from allergies for several years become itchy year-round. Seasonal itchiness usually has an early age of onset, typically between 1 and 3 years of age.

Itching and Skin Problems

The most prevalent symptom of atopy is itchy and irritated skin, which is usually evident in a dog’s behavior. An atopic dog can typically be seen scratching, rubbing, biting, chewing and licking himself all over, although most of the itching is concentrated around the face, belly and feet. The skin and coat might be discolored from saliva buildup due to licking, especially on the feet. You might also notice hair loss, scaly, crusty, flaky or greasy skin, bumpy skin, hot spots or open sores. Some dogs chew so much that they end up injuring themselves. Symptoms can lead to skin infections that exacerbate the problem.

Upper Respiratory Symptoms

An atopic dog might also present with upper respiratory symptoms similar to those of hay fever in humans. These symptoms include runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. You might also catch your dog snoring. This is due to inflammation in the throat. By themselves, these symptoms can also be a sign of an upper respiratory disease or infection. You should consult your vet as to whether another condition should be ruled out before chalking these symptoms up to allergies.

Ear Problems

Atopic dermatitis can also affect a dog’s inner and outer ears. A dog with atopy might have ears or ear flaps that have become red and swollen, or skin in the ear area that appears to be thickening or darkening in color. Ear infections are also a possibility. The inner ears might emit a yeasty odor and might also discharge dark, waxy fluid. Again, ear symptoms by themselves might be a sign of mites, infection or another condition, so your vet should rule these out before diagnosing atopy as the cause.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

After more than a decade of devoting her people-helping skills to the confines of one company, one department, one office at a time, Jean Bauhaus has decided that it's finally time to remove the boundaries and expand her availability to the far reaches of the Internet. She has worked in the corporate world, in various support roles, since 1997, all the while honing her skills in web design, blogging and desktop publishing, and refining her craft as a writer of both non-fiction and prose. She has also decided that the time has come to parlay years of experience copy editing and proofreading papers, articles, short stories and novels for friends and colleagues into a workable profession, having recently completed formal copy editor training at Mediabistro. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband Matt and their three pets. When she's not working for clients, she's usually working on her novel.