Canine Allergy Testing and Desensitization Procedures Explained

Canine allergy testing can be performed by a vet or by a veterinary dermatologist. Allergy desensitization is an emerging branch of veterinary science that may offer some hope for managing your dog's allergies without steroids.

Canine Allergy Testing Preparation

Before your dog receives a canine allergy test, some preparation must occur. First, any skin infections must be cleared up. This is to ensure that dermatological symptoms are due to allergies and not infection.

Second, your dog should be placed on a hypoallergenic diet for about three months before allergy testing. This will ensure that your dog isn't suffering from a food allergy.

Canine Allergy Testing Explained

Your dog is ready to be tested, your vet will perform an Intradermal Skin Test (IDST). This procedure determines whether symptoms are indeed caused by allergens, and also narrows down the allergens responsible.

IDST is a straightforward procedure in which your vet injects small amounts of allergens beneath your dog's skin to determine which ones cause a reaction. Because of the large number of possible allergens, however, your dog may need repeated IDSTs.

Canine Allergy Desensitization

If your dog is a good candidate, your vet may suggest desensitization therapy. Desensitization therapy relies on a type of vaccine, designed specifically for your dog, that will desensitize him to the allergen. This works because allergies occur when your dog's immune system reacts to something that is not, in fact, dangerous.

It is recommended, however, that such therapy be performed by a veterinary dermatologist, who specializes in conditions of the skin. Desensitization may initially require additional blood and skin tests.