Dog Allergy Test Procedures

Allergies are a reaction of your dog's immune system to different environmental factors. A dog allergy test can be of several types: blood test, trials (elimination of factors or overexposure) or intradermal testing. Each of these diagnostic methods is applied according to the suspected allergen.

Allergen Trials

The easiest and least expensive way to test for allergens that cause negative reactions in your dog are trials. Dogs may be allergic to different foods or materials they come in contact with.

  • Food testing can be a long process, as you need to eliminate one ingredient at a time and your dog will have to be monitored. An ingredient should be eliminated for a period of 2 to 3 weeks.
  • If you suspect that your dog may be allergic to his bedding, replace this with different natural materials. Dogs may be allergic to plastic, so if he has plastic food and water bowls, get some metallic or ceramic ones.
  • If your dog is allergic to grass, you should keep him indoors and see if he displays the same allergy symptoms.

You can also tell if your dog is allergic to a substance if he starts sneezing immediately after he has been exposed to it.

Blood Tests

Blood tests can be used to detect dog allergies. There are 2 types of tests that are used for pets: the radioallergosorbent test (RAST) and the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay test (ELISA). These tests are used primarily in humans, but can be effective in detecting dog allergies as well.

  • Both the RAST and the ELISA require a sample of the dog’s blood. When a dog is allergic to a substance, there will be a specific antibody present in his blood. If the dog is allergic to pollen, there will be a specific pollen IgE antibody in his bloodstream.
  • The ELISA test is more expensive than the RAST test, but may give more conclusive results.

The main disadvantage of blood testing is that it cannot be used to detect food allergies. Food allergies can be identified through food trials.

Intradermal Testing

Inhalant allergies can be diagnosed through intradermal testing.

  • The test will be performed on a small area of the dog’s skin. This area will be injected with common allergens and the allergens that you may suspect. There will be an allergic reaction on the skin in the spot injected with the culprit allergen.
  • The reaction will be a slight swelling and redness, and in rare cases, anaphylaxis. This reaction may occur within 5 hours of the injection.
  • Intradermal testing cannot be used to diagnose contact allergies and food allergies.

If your dog displays symptoms such as sneezing, panting, redness, swelling, itchiness, weakness or coughing, he may be allergic to something in his environment. Using a dog allergy test to find the allergen is the first step towards healing your pet. The vet will be able to prescribe a few drugs to relieve the allergy symptoms and will advise you to keep your dog away from the allergen, if possible.