Got an itchy dog? It could be an allergy to grass pollen
If your dog starts itching around about now when they’re otherwise normally fine and dandy it could be because they’re having an allergic reaction to grass pollen.
Pollen allergies are the second most common cause of itching after fleas and mites.
What is a grass pollen allergy?
Grass pollen allergies belong to the inhaled allergen family: mould, house dust, flower and tree pollen and air fresheners. As it’s not an allergy to grasses but to their pollen it’s a seasonal allergy that occurs in May and June as grasses start to pollinate, to be carried along by wind and breeze.
Which grasses are the worst culprits?
Timothy grass is the big one, it grows on agricultural land, in meadows and by the side of the road. There’s no escape from Timothy grass! But there are plenty of others, often urban, and some we deem to be weeds collectively causing all sorts of mischief: Dandelions (with pollen large enough to see); dock and sorrel all over the UK; nettle largely southern and especially urban; and to a lesser extent plantain and mugwort.
Ironically, a flavonoid found in nettles is added to supplements to relieve itchy skin, but the nettle’s pollen may have contributed to the itchy skin in the first place!
So it doesn’t matter where you live, country, town or city, grass pollens are everywhere. Not only is your dog treading on pollen he or she is sniffing about in it, disappearing into it and bringing it home with them. Pollen comes into the house via their fur and paws, through an open window, and on your clothes and shoes.
How grass pollen allergies affect your dog – symptoms.
Allergies like this are hard on dogs, it’s essentially hayfever but worse for them than it is for us.
- All over itching and scratching
- Especially around the groin, belly, armpits and muzzle
- Paw chewing
- Face rubbing
- Chewing wherever they can reach
- Red, swollen paws
- Itchy ears
- Watery eyes
- Coughing and sneezing
- Incredibly sore paws and pads
- Broken skin
- Sore patches especially where they can get at to chew
- Excessive licking which can become habitual
- Bacterial skin infections if not treated
- Sometimes a rash which can be mistaken for a flea or mite infestation
- Mild depression – who wouldn’t if all they did was itch and scratch all day
How to keep a pollen allergy at bay.
The good news is a pollen allergy isn’t too hard to keep on top of. The objective is to
treat the itch and any sore patches straight away, and build up the immune system over time. The stronger you can make your dog’s immune system the lesser the effects of a pollen allergy will be over the course of their lifetime.
It’s a pretty cheap solution to a potentially expensive problem, an alternative to vet visits, steroids and a lot of stress.
Here’s how it works.
Day to day.
Always wipe your dog down before coming back into the house. Use a damp flannel or towel then rinse and dry it for next time. Paws, pads, all the fur, groin, belly and armpits, inside the ears and all over the face. You’re getting as much pollen off as you can to reduce the symptoms.
Relieve the itch and treat the sore bits.
Wash your whole dog in Skinny Shampoo – including the face and ears – give special attention to particularly itchy bits especially the paws, get right in there. Leave it on for up to ten minutes, or as long as you can. Skinny Shampoo is formulated to kill the itch and soothe the skin with it’s blend of ivy, mallow, arnica and elder. The neem content will also kill any parasites which may be lurking there too.
Then spray with Skinny Spray every day to keep the itch down. The essential oils; lavender and sage oil soothe the skin, along with lemongrass and rosemary.
Any sore patches and small wounds can be treated with Ekoneem or Serendipity Herbals Neem & Coconut Cream. The coconut oil soothes the skin while the neem, vitamin E, arnica and almond oil calms everything down, nips skin infections in the bud and starts the healing process.
You can use all three products together, in fact they were developed to be used together or as a stand alone product. All three bring something to the party.
Paws – a special mention.
Make sure you dry your dog’s paws thoroughly every time you wash them to prevent yeast building up and adding insult to injury.
Building up your dog’s immune system.
An allergy is a normal immune response to something the body doesn’t like; pollen on this occasion. So boosting your dog’s immune system will help offset the symptoms and improve your dog’s chances of fighting the allergy from within.
Add an oil to your dog’s food.
You only need one of these but as Omega 3 is fish based we thought it best to add a veggie option too. Both work well.
Omega 3 and flaxseed oils are anti-inflammatories with an antihistamine effect, essential to fighting off allergies by boosting your dog’s immunity. While many foods, even the very best, have added oils to them, to fight and protect against something like this it needs to be added to the diet as a supplement.
Omega 3 and flaxseed oils reduce inflammation throughout the body. Both help to soothe itchy skin, and omega 3 helps with sore paws too. We recommend Fish4Dogs for the omega 3, and Proflax Skin & Coat which is 70% flaxseed oil, plus you get the benefits of the other 30% which are herbs especially formulated for skin and coat health.
We literally are what we eat.
Foods containing vitamins A, B12 and E further boost immune response so look for dogs food containing good amounts of the following:
Vit A – liver, eggs, sweet potato, carrots, green veg
Vit B12 – offal, beef, oily fish, brewers yeast and eggs
Vit E – flaxseed, broccoli, oily fish, pumpkin seeds – benefit helps with worms in the gut
At Browns all our food is healthy, as natural as you can get and good for your dogs. Have a chat to one of our team and we can guide you through the best Raw, dry and wet foods to give your dog to specifically get the Vitamins you need.
Luckily, grass pollen allergies are a short term irritation for most and by the summer is forgotten about. The pollen will soon retreat leaving you to enjoy the long days and balmy evenings. Happy summer everyone.