Environmental Allergy Testing – A Quick Overview

Not a week goes by that we don’t see a couple dozen dogs and cats bothered by one form of allergy or another. Sometimes we manage our allergy patients with medical treatment, other times with diet therapy, and still other times with immunotherapy.

One of our owners asked us to e-mail some information regarding environmental allergy testing. After we sent the e-mail, we thought it best to rework it into a blog post so it could be helpful for other owners-of-allergic-animals to consider.

(I should say at this point that for the purposes of this post, “allergy testing” refers to pursuing the cause of environmental allergies, not food allergies. Animals with suspected food allergies can be tested in the manner described below, but a more reliable method of diagnosis is with an appropriately designed food trial. Please consult us or your regular veterinarian for details about how to conduct an appropriate food trial.)

Bad Skin

Allergy testing in dogs consists of pursuing one or two types of testing, or both. The first, serum allergy testing, we perform at the Clinic. This consists of taking a sample of blood and submitting it to a lab that tests the serum against a variety of environmental allergens specific to our region and, when we’re suspicious of a food allergy component to the symptoms, food allergens.

The second type of testing is skin allergy testing. We do not perform this at the Clinic, but rather we refer our patients to a local dermatology specialist (there are two in the area) when this is warranted.

After we receive the results of serum allergy testing, we set up a plan based on those results. Sometimes the results show that the patient isn’t allergic to any of the allergens. This is how Atopic Dermatitis is diagnosed, and a specific treatment plan is devised.

Sometimes the results show that the patient is allergic to one or more allergens. In these cases, immunotherapy injections are formulated specifically for the patient, and a plan of treatment is devised. This includes determining and sometimes adjusting the volume, concentration and frequency of injections to be given at home.

For the best opportunity to obtain reliable test results, patients should not be given cortisone or steroid therapy for six weeks prior to testing.

Hopefully this provides a good foundation for you, and if you have any questions or thoughts on the subject, feel free to bring them to our attention at 330-929-3223.


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