What is allergy testing?
Many pets are referred for “allergy testing.” The accuracy and purpose of this test is often misunderstood by many people, including very well-intended veterinarians. Allergy testing WILL NOT tell you what you can remove from your home to make your pet better. Allergy testing does not diagnose food allergies. We will take time to discuss this testing, when it is appropriate to do, and how it is done, and decide if it the right thing for you and your pet.
Allergy testing tells us to which allergens your pet is allergic to. We use this information to better understand the pet's allergies and to design an allergy serum (or allergy vaccine, immunotherapy, desensitization.)
Allergy testing is done by a skin test (intradermal allergy test, or IDAT) and/or a blood allergy test. At Oregon Veterinary Referral Associates, we do both skin and blood testing for allergies. Allergy testing is not used so much for making a diagnosis of allergies as it is in designing immunotherapy (see below.) The diagnosis of atopy/inhalant allergies is made by ruling out all other causes of itching and infections.
What about "allergy injections" or "allergy drops?"
Based on the allergy test results, we can formulate an "allergy serum" or "allergen-specific immunotherapy." Immunotherapy involves giving the pet injections or oral drops of the things they reacted to in small but increasing quantities. Over time, the effort with this is to "retrain" the pet's immune system to be less reactive to those allergens and prevent the signs of the allergy from happening.
Not all pets respond to the immunotherapy; approximately 70% of dogs and 50-60% of cats respond to those injections.
What about food allergies?
We do not perform skin or blood testing for food allergies. The best way to diagnose or rule out a food allergy is to do a restricted diet for a specified time period as directed. For more information, please see the "Food Allergies" page.
What if I am coming a long way and want to get as much done in one visit as possible?
We get this question a lot. This is something that can be done at the visit but we like to discuss with you what allergy testing typically entails, what it is used for and if it is right for you and your pet.