Dog Allergy Testing

Allergy testing should be performed on pets that display allergy symptoms and are suspected to have a negative reaction to various irritants. The tests are meant to identify antibodies in the dog’s system, which are produced as a reaction to the irritant. In some cases, the allergy testing can be successful in detecting the culprit irritant, so it will be easy to manage the dog’s condition and find a suitable course of treatment. The allergy testing may be performed on the dog’s skin (i.e. intradermal testing) or on blood samples. Allergen trials can also be performed if the dog has food or contact allergies.

Blood Testing Dogs

Blood testing is commonly performed to detect allergies in canines. The tests should identify the presence of particular antibodies that are produced if the dog is allergic to certain substances. Vets may perform 1 of the 2 available allergy blood tests:

  • The radioallergosorbent test (RAST)
  • The enzyme linked immunosorbent assay test (ELISA)

The antibodies are secreted if the immune system reacts negatively to an allergen and the dog develops an allergic reaction. The dog produces specific antibodies to each type of allergens, so that the vet can detect the allergen. This will help in the future management of the condition, as the allergen may be removed from the dog’s surroundings.

Intradermal Testing to Find Allergic Reactions

Intradermal testing is performed on the skin. The tests involve administering injections with various allergens under the skin. If the dog develops an allergic reaction within 5 hours, the allergen is detected. The main drawback of this type of testing is that it may not detect allergies to rare substances.

Trials to Detect Allergens in the Dog

Contact and food allergies can be common in canines and are difficult to detect through blood or skin testing. Consequently, several trials will be required to be able to pinpoint the allergen and reduce the allergic reactions in the future.

The trials can be performed through elimination. In the case of contact allergies, the culprit allergen is most certainly a material the dog is constantly in contact with, so it must be in the home or yard. You can eliminate the bedding and replace it with bedding made of different materials. Monitor if the dog’s allergic reactions persist. Remember that it may take up to 2 weeks for an allergic reaction to clear, so wait 2 to 3 weeks before establishing if the eliminated allergen is indeed the culprit irritant. Eliminate a material each 2 to 3 weeks, until you identify the irritant.

In case of food allergies, you will have to transition the dog to a new diet that is made up of 1 new source of proteins (e.g. venison, or other types of meat your dog hasn’t consumed before) and 1 new source of fibers. The dog should get 1 new ingredient in his meal every 2 to 3 weeks. If he starts developing an allergic reaction, this means that he is allergic to the latest ingredient introduced.

Contact allergies may be detected through intradermal testing, but food allergies can only be detected through trials.