Who would’ve thought that a dog could be allergic to grass… I didn’t even know that was a thing until I found out that our dog was one of those pets. I say those pets because I’m the person who laughs at other people’s pets who have random oddities about them like the dog who is allergic to grains, or the cat who can only eat chicken as opposed to salmon because he’s allergic to fish! Yea those kinds of pets.
When we first bought Zoey our 3 year old GSD (for a whopping $100! Best $100 I ever spent) from a retired K9 officer in Tennessee, she was perfectly fine running around the yard or at the dog park, we never had any skin issues with her when she was a puppy and well after she turned 1 and then we moved… to Florida. Great weather, sunny beaches and all kinds of awesome food… not so much in the grass department. Her paws went from perfectly furry to bald, red, raw and inflamed within a matter of days. She’d come home from a trip to the dog park with bleeding paws and scabs the size of fingernails spanning all the way to her hock bone (ankle for humans). We were stunned because we had no freaking clue what was wrong with our dog. Being that I used to work as a vet tech I tried to remedy the situation on my own but nothing I tried was working… it was heartbreaking for me. Eventually we took her to our vet and we found out that lo and behold she’s allergic to St. Augustine grass which is a type of grass that grows in this region.
We went through a lot of trial and error situations to find the best way to help Zoey cope with her allergies and this is what I came up with:
1. Limit The Amount of Time Spent on Grass
With Zoey our biggest challenge was limiting the amount of time we took her to run around at the dog park. Her favorite activity whenever we go is to play fetch and she will literally play fetch until her paws fall off so we really had to curb how long we played with her especially since she’s a hard runner and a lot of the times her pads would tear along with her carpal pad whenever she would screech to a stop. We used to let her run around for about 30 minutes with breaks in between but since discovering her allergies we only play fetch with her for about 15 minutes max.
2. Wipe Paws After Each Walk
This applies to trips to the dog park as well. I use the Petkin Allergy relief Petwipes, they smell great, help with the irritation on her paws and also do a great job of removing all the dirt and debris she collects on our walks (or from the dog park). I know it may be a little tedious having to do this after every single walk and it might be costly but honestly it’s helped significantly with managing the irritation plus it keeps the furniture clean!
3. Use Ointments for Dry / Cracked / Inflamed Skin
I use Neosporin religiously whenever Zoey’s feet get out of control i.e she had a friend come over and they were running around the yard all afternoon or we took her to the dog park and she started chasing dogs around (rare, but it happens). I usually wipe her feet down with the petwipes, apply the neosporin and then bandage her paws for a few hours just so that the ointment has a chance to work otherwise she’d either lick it all off or wipe it off on the floor and leave streaks all over the place. I’ll do this every other day for a week if her feet are really bad if not I’ll do it once or twice and that’s usually enough. The other ointment or wax I use is Musher’s Secret, this stuff is primarily used on dogs who live in colder climates and have to walk out in the snow as it prevents snowballs from forming in between their pads but I like to use it to moisturize her pads as they tend to get very dry and cracked. This I’ll use once a week or so depending on how dry her paws are.
4. Wear Booties
Making sure your dog wears booties may be the best thing you could do as it literally prevents their paws from ever touching grass! We bought Zoey a pair of Ruffwear Grip Trex Boots that we’ll occasionally have her wear whenever we take her hiking (tons of gravel and grass). We also use them whenever we take her out for walks during the day and the pavement is scorching hot! Good investment!
My holy grail has always been Benadryl and probably always will be. Although I’m not a fan of medicating my pets this was the only thing that got Zoey to stop scratching herself into oblivion! Her grass allergies got so bad at one point that not only were her feet jacked up but she also got an ear infection and got a staff infection on her belly for scratching, licking and biting so much. So I not only used benadryl 2% cream but also gave her 2 / 25 mg tabs twice a day for almost a week! That week was a rough one but we made it through with the help of some good ol’ benadryl! Now and days I rarely give her any benadryl, so long as I keep to my current regime I don’t need it but I’ve noticed in the spring and summer when pollen season starts I do have to keep her allergies in check with one dose of benadryl a day.
Currently our Zoey is allergy free with a full set of fur on all four paws (yayyy! that took forever to grow back in and I honestly thought it never would).
What products or tips do you use to help your pup with grass allergies?