If you've noticed that your dog is scratching a lot or is suffering from hives then they may be experiencing an allergic reaction. In this post, our Fairhaven vets share some information about allergies in dogs, how at-home allergy testing can help and what the associated costs are.
What are the common allergies that dogs should be tested for?
Instead of IgE (Immunoglobulin E) allergies, which are caused by the body's immune system, at-home allergy test kits test for sensitivity or intolerance to food and environmental factors that develop over time. IgE allergic reactions occur within minutes of ingestion or exposure and are diagnosed by veterinarians using a blood test or skin prick test.
However, if you suspect your dog has allergies, these kits are not intended to replace a consultation with your veterinarian. These kits should be used in conjunction with the testing done by your vet to help gain a complete view of your pet's allergies and their causes.
How is an at-home allergy test for dogs conducted?
How exactly are at-home allergy tests for dogs performed? For these tests, you will typically need to collect a sample from your pup, either hair or saliva and send it away to the laboratory for testing. The results will be sent to you via email within a few weeks. You should discuss your findings with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for your puppy.
How is dog allergy testing at the veterinary clinic different?
There are two types of allergy diagnostic testing: intradermal allergy testing and serum allergy testing. Your vet will be able to recommend the best option based on your pet's symptoms and needs.
intradermal Allergy Testing: The gold standard in allergy testing for environmental allergies is intradermal testing. A sedative is administered to relax your pet, a shaved area on the side is performed, and multiple allergens common to the Southeast are injected into the skin. After 20 minutes, the test site is examined again to determine which allergens caused a red, raised reaction.
Serum Allergy Testing: Serum allergy testing for pets entails obtaining a small sample of your pet's blood for diagnostic purposes. The serum from your dog will be tested for sensitivity to a variety of potential allergens, including pollen from trees, grasses, weeds, and shrubs, as well as fungi, house dust and mites, and a variety of potential food ingredients found in commercial dog food preparations.
What are some of the most common allergens for dogs?
Dogs, like humans, can develop allergies to a wide range of substances, including:
- environmental pathogens
- Dairy products
- dust mites
What are the typical symptoms of dog allergies?
Allergy symptoms in dogs can vary depending on the cause. A dog in anaphylactic shock, for example, will have a drop in blood pressure followed by shock, which is not the same for a dog with a skin condition.
But In general, some of the most common signs that your dog may have allergies include:
- Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
- Red, inflamed skin
- Itchy ears
- Chronic ear infections
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Constant licking
*Note that some of these symptoms are also symptoms of a lot of other conditions. Make an appointment with your vet for a more accurate diagnosis.
What are the treatment options for dogs with allergies?
When it comes to dog allergies, there is a difference between managing the allergic reaction and treating the allergy itself by removing the allergen. Some of the most common treatments for managing allergy symptoms come in the form of oral or topical medications. The important thing for owners to understand is that while traditional therapies can provide immediate relief, they should only be used in the short term while the root of the problem is addressed. While many treatments provide only symptomatic therapy, an allergy desensitization serum (or immunotherapy) is the gold standard in the treatment of atopic dermatitis.
The best way to determine which course of treatment is best for your pet is to visit your primary care veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dermatologist. A thorough history and physical examination can lead your veterinarian to the next best course of action.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.