Most dogs love to spend time in their owner's backyards, chasing squirrels and rolling around in the grass. But after about 20 minutes of playing, it's not uncommon for some dogs to suddenly start scratching themselves vigorously.
If this sounds like your dog, your dog might be allergic to something in your yard. At first glance, this can seem overwhelming for an owner since there are so many things in our outdoor environment that we can't control–but fear not. In this article, we'll share with you the six most common yard allergies in dogs and how you can spot them and prevent them.
How does an allergic reaction happen?
First, let's define what an allergic reaction is and how it even happens. Simply put, an allergic reaction occurs when a pet's immune system overreacts to something in their environment. In this case, that "something" can be anything from pollen to plants to grass or even insect bites.
Once a dog's immune system senses an allergen, it will produce antibodies to fight it. These antibodies then release histamines into the body, which can cause inflammation and irritation in the skin and mucous membranes. This is what causes redness, swelling, and itchy skin–all of which can be pretty uncomfortable for your pet!
What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?
The most common symptom of an allergic reaction in dogs is excessive itching and scratching of irritated skin. Your pup might also start to show signs of redness, inflammation, or hives on their body. Some dogs may even experience sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes if the allergen is airborne.
It's important to note that not all dog allergies present themselves in the same way. Some dogs may be more sensitive than others and exhibit different allergic symptoms too. If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these behaviors, it's best to take them to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
6 Things Dogs Skin Can be Allergic to in the Yard
Grass pollens are a major cause of allergies in dogs. They can cause a reaction even if your dog has never experienced an allergy before–this is what we call seasonal allergies. Because seasonal allergies such as grass allergies in dogs are common, they aren't a crazy cause for concern and have a wide range of treatment options available.
Where Do Grass Pollens come from?
Grass pollen comes from different species of grasses. Common grass pollens include bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue. The pollen that causes a grass allergy is released into the air from these plants during certain times of the year and can stay in the area for weeks or months on end.
How Does a Grass Allergy Affect a Dog?
Grass pollen inhalation can cause allergic dermatitis or itchiness on a dog's skin and respiratory inflammation, such as an inflamed throat. Even healthy dogs who don't have chronic dermatitis can experience itching and respiratory distress when exposed to grass pollen in large amounts.
A serious reaction may occur, and your dog's grass allergy may also show up in other ways, such as coughing or welts on the dry skin itself. An allergic response is incredibly uncomfortable for a dog, so it's important to get opinions from veterinary professionals and any over-the-counter medications or allergy shots if needed.
How Can I Prevent Grass Allergies?
To help reduce your dog's symptoms of grass allergies, you should monitor grass pollen levels in the air, and you can try keeping them away from areas with a lot of standing water or high grasses. Weather services often provide information about local pollen counts, which can help you avoid taking your pet out when they are at their peak.
You may also want to periodically mow your lawn to keep grass levels down if necessary, but always remember to avoid mowing when it’s windy, as this can stir up more grass irritants in the air.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are also common culprits when it comes to allergies in dogs, as both can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in damp areas and can be found on surfaces such as walls, floors, carpets, furniture, and even fences. Mildew is a similar fungus that forms in wet or humid conditions.
How Does Mold and Mildew Affect Dogs?
When inhaled or ingested by sensitive dogs, mold spores can trigger an allergic reaction which may lead to a range of signs and symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, and itchy skin and eyes. In some cases, mold may also lead to more serious respiratory problems such as bronchitis or asthma.
How Can I Reduce Mold and Mildew Levels?
The most effective way to prevent infection in your dog is to keep the area dry and clean. You can do this by regularly checking any areas around the yard that may be collecting water, such as low spots or near sprinkler heads, for signs of dampness or standing water.
You should also avoid overwatering your lawn, as this can create a hospitable environment for mold and mildew growth. If you often keep your dog inside, you can use a dehumidifier in your home to help keep indoor humidity levels low and discourage mold from growing indoors.
Weeds & Shrubs
Weeds and shrubs can also be a potential allergen for dogs, as they are often home to mold spores and other irritants such as pollen. Common culprits include ragweed, dandelion, thistle, and even certain types of grasses.
Additionally, certain shrubs, such as flowering plants, can also contain pollen that may trigger an allergic reaction.
How Does Weed & Shrub Allergens Affect Dogs?
Weed and shrub allergens can affect both the respiratory system and the skin of your dog when inhaled or ingested.
Your pup may experience sneezing and a runny nose if they breathe in the allergens from these plants, and like many dogs with allergies, they may also start to itch vigorously after coming in contact with certain weeds and shrubs.
How Can I Reduce Weed & Shrub Allergens?
While it’s challenging to completely completely remove weeds and shrubs from your yard since they are very common in outdoor environment, there are ways to mitigate your dog's exposure to them.
The best way to reduce weed and shrub allergens in your yard is to regularly remove any weeds that may be growing and also trim back any plants that are flowering. Additionally, you should try to keep your grasses low as this will help reduce the amount of pollen released into the air.
If possible, you may want to consider planting non-allergenic shrubs or flowers, such as pansies, petunias, or impatiens. These produce minimal pollen compared to others, which can help minimize the amount of allergens in your yard.
Insects such as fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and other small insects can also contribute to allergies in dogs. As these pests bite or suck blood from your pup, they can inject certain proteins into their skin which may cause an allergic reaction.
How Do Insect Allergens Affect Dogs?
The most common symptom of insect allergy such as flea allergy dermatitis is intense itching around the bite or sting site. Other signs of a reaction include redness, swelling and even hives in different areas of the body.
In some cases, your pup may even experience difficulty breathing if they are highly sensitive to the allergen being injected by the insect. In cases like this, seek veterinary care immediately and have allergy supplements on hand to maintain future symptoms.
How Can I Prevent Insect Allergens?
To reduce exposure to insect allergens, regularly check your dog's fur for ticks and fleas and take preventive measures, such as using a flea and tick preventative product. You should also make sure to keep any areas of standing water in your yard (such as puddles or ponds) away from your pet's access since mosquitoes tend to breed in these conditions.
A great tip for both you and your pup is to use natural mosquito repellents such as citronella oil or lavender essential oil around the yard to help create a pest-free environment.
Finally, parasites can also contribute to allergies in dogs. Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, or tapeworms may cause an allergic reaction if ingested by your pup and are often found in damp areas or soil.
These parasites are often found in damp areas or soil that is contaminated with feces from other animals. They can also be found in stagnant water sources or areas where your pet may come into contact with other infected animals.
How Do Parasite Allergens Affect Dogs?
Most commonly, parasite allergens will lead to gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea after ingestion. In some cases, your pup may also experience severe itching or skin irritation due to contact with the parasites.
How Can I Reduce Parasite Allergens?
The best way to reduce parasite allergens in your dog's skin allergies in the yard is by keeping it clean and free of any standing water or areas that could collect feces from other animals. Additionally, you should always make sure to regularly deworm your dog, as this can help prevent any potential infestations.
What Are Remedies for Allergic Reactions in Dogs?
Most allergies in dogs can be prevented by mitigating the risk to start with. You can do this by regularly taking your pup in for allergy testing, such as skin testing to test for any skin allergies, a complete blood count, or a bacterial and fungal swab.
Many remedies through your vet are immunotherapy injections or a medicated shampoo. Many anti-itch shampoos are also available as over-the-counter medications. These shampoos can work miracles when used regularly.
Why does it matter?
You and your dog both spend a lot of time outdoors, so it makes sense to be aware and mitigate the risk of any yard allergens for your dog. Allergic reactions can be extremely uncomfortable for dogs and may even lead to more serious health issues if not addressed. This is why regular allergy testing is important to make sure your pup is allergy-free!
By familiarizing yourself with the potential allergens that could be present in your yard, you can take proactive measures to reduce their effects and protect your furry best friend. This will keep both you and your pet worry-free while you enjoy spending time together outdoors.