Your pooch can be exposed to a plethora of potential allergens on a daily basis, meaning it can be tricky to pinpoint what your pet is allergic to. This makes the task of minimizing exposure all the more difficult.
Hence, it’s worth considering dog allergy testing if Fido or Snoopy is scratching, licking, or sneezing uncontrollably.
Whether the cause is seasonal allergies, a food sensitivity, or even something as simple as perfume — we’re here to help answer all the questions relating to testing dogs for allergies.
Top Potential Allergens in Dogs
Reducing or eliminating contact with the offending allergen is the main defense in this battle. Yet, as many everyday products and ingredients cause sensitivities and issues in your furry friend — this can be an arduous task. Doggie parents are often shocked when they discover the true cause.
So, before we get into everything you need to know about allergy tests for dogs, let’s take a closer look at a list of the top potential allergens that could be causing your pet problems.
- Grass, weeds, plants, pollens, trees.
- Grains — corn, wheat, soy, or meat products.
- Cleaning products.
- Cat litter.
Signs Your Dog May Need Allergy Testing
Here are some of the typical allergy symptoms to look out for:
- Sneezing or coughing.
- Excessive scratching or biting.
- Obsessive licking of a particular area — usually the feet.
- Skin irritation associated with fur loss.
Most Common Allergens In Dogs
Food allergies are one of the top allergies known to affect dogs. For many pooch parents, it can be a shock to discover their dog is struggling with these issues even after prolonged exposure to a specific brand or type of food. This is also the reason food allergy testing for dogs is so readily available.
Allergies to food usually display themselves after long periods of exposure. This is because of a reaction in your dog’s immune system that triggers the production of antibodies. Almost any ingredient can cause an allergy in your pup, but the biggest culprits are proteins found in dairy, meat, eggs, soy, or gluten.
Symptoms your dog may experience include vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive gas.
If you notice your bow-wow suffering from infections in more of a seasonal pattern, this means your furry friend may be suffering from the same seasonal allergies as us humans do.
Depending on your dog’s sensitivity to certain allergens and their immune system, they may/may not show signs of respiratory symptoms during allergy flare-ups. Sneezing, coughing, and discharge from their eyes and nose are likely. However, don’t mistake this for other illnesses such as infections or heart disease.
For more information, check out our guide to Seasonal Allergies.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
This is when your dog has an allergic reaction to a flea bite. It’s very common in canines and in fact is the most frequently diagnosed dermatological issue in dogs in the US.
Flea allergy dermatitis is more prevalent during the warmer summer months and occurs when a flea bites and injects its saliva into your dog. This is different from a flea bite reaction — it’s a direct result of an allergy to the flea’s saliva.
Most dogs love a good roll in the grass or running through the woods but unfortunately, this can mean that they’re exposed to a variety of potential allergens. These include plants, grasses, or bushes — all of which can cause your dog to have an allergic reaction.
If you think this is a possibility, read our 101 on Dog Allergies to Grass.
Also called atopy, pollen, mold, or dust typically trigger this type of allergy. What’s more, it’s not straightforward to diagnose either. First, you need to rule out other allergies that could be causing similar symptoms.
Allergy Testing For Dogs
If you believe that your dog may be suffering from some kind of allergy there are two ways in which canine allergy testing can be carried out — using at-home testing kits or in your vet’s clinic.
Testing dogs for allergies isn’t a difficult process. And, when armed with the correct information, many pet parents feel great relief in finally getting answers to their questions. There are several techniques, including:
This type of allergy testing is relatively quick and easy to perform by a qualified vet.
A small sample of your dog’s blood is taken and analyzed. The blood is tested for a reaction to a wide variety of suspected allergens such as:
This kind of test can also be used to determine if your dog has an allergy to a certain food or material. It’s also a far less invasive way of performing a skin allergy test. However, it’s not as reliable as others.
One course of action your vet may decide on is intradermal (skin) testing. This is deemed by many as the most accurate at determining the cause.
Your furry friend will be given a light sedative to ensure they don’t feel stressed during the procedure. During the test, a series of different allergens are injected into the first layers of your dog’s skin to see if a reaction appears.
The severity of each reaction is graded, making a note of everything they discover. This provides you with a detailed insight into your furry friend’s allergy testing results.
Home Allergy Test for Dogs
Home allergy testing for dogs has fast become a popular option to get quick and easy answers to your pet’s allergy issues.
These DIY kits are available for hair and saliva testing. It’s quick and painless, and many pet parents opt for this choice to avoid a trip to the vets with an anxious pooch.
Each kit/brand will have its specific instructions, but generally, the process is as follows:
- Collect 10-15 strands of your dog’s hair.
- Submit for testing via mail.
- Sample arrives and is analyzed.
- You receive the results usually within 7-10 days (depending on the brand).
Unfortunately, when it comes to a food allergy test for dogs, you cannot fully rely on blood or saliva testing. However, commonly suggested is the elimination or exclusion diet.
The diet typically consists of either homemade or store-bought food that contains no additives and uses alternative protein sources with a lower chance of triggering reactions.
If your pup shows signs of improvement when taking part in this diet, it’s likely something within their previous meal plan is to blame for the reaction. Hence, your vet will suggest sticking with the revised diet.
You should slowly transition any change in dog food to prevent further gastrointestinal upset and give their system a chance to adjust.
We’ve discussed all the symptoms and variations of tests available on the market. If you need to decide which allergy testing you choose, you can now make an informed decision based on their individual allergy triggers.
And, while dog allergy testing will identify your pooch’s source of irritation, remember, a reduction in exposure to their allergens is the best way to ensure your furry friend feels better.
Allergy Testing In Dogs FAQs
“How Can I Do a Dog Food Allergy Test?”
Allergy testing, when performed by your vet uses one of two techniques. Intradermal skin testing or RAST (blood) testing. Skin testing is the best option for atopic dermatitis but can only be carried out by a veterinary dermatologist.
“How Much Is Allergy Testing for Dogs?”
Pinpointing an exact amount can be tricky due to the variation of tests available on the market today. Plus, each veterinary practice may offer slightly different services. However, as an average estimation, you can expect skin testing to cost around $200 and blood testing upwards of $300.
“Are at Home Dog Allergy Tests Accurate?”
Saliva and blood testing may lack reliability to distinguish between healthy and allergic dogs for allergies to food. This type of at-home dog food allergy test shouldn’t be used for the diagnosis of food allergies.
“How Are Dogs Tested for Allergies?”
The best allergy test for dogs for environmental allergens is intradermal skin testing. This can only be carried out by a veterinary dermatologist.
“What Is the Most Common Allergy in Dogs? “
For food allergies in dogs, it’s beef, chicken, lamb, wheat in the form of soy or gluten.