Intradermal Skin Testing


Should My Pet Have an Allergy Test ?

If your pet has any of the following symptoms, a comprehensive allergy test should be considered:

  •    Excessive itching and scratching
  •    Licking or chewing of a paw, tail or patch of skin or hair
  •    Discoloration (redness) of the skin
  •    Recurring skin infections
  •    Recurring ear infections
  •    Unpleasant odor from skin, hair, or ears
  •    Recurring "hot spot" or rash

What are the Benefits of Allergy Testing?

Early testing can improve the success rate of treatment by as much as 90 percent. Testing can help identify the best treatment for your pet therefore eliminating recurring skin and ear infections and relieving the pain your pet may be experiencing. Most of all, testing and subsequent treatment will improve your pet's quality of life and enhance your enjoyment of your animal companion. 

General guidelines, prior to testing:

  • a dermatological examination must be performed in order to diagnose and treat infectious causes of skin disease before allergy testing is considered
  • topical medications, including shampoos and sprays, that contain steroids and antihistamines should be avoided for at least 2 weeks
  • oral antihistamines should be avoided for a minimum of 7-10 days
  • oral steroids should be avoided for a minimum of 4-6 weeks 
  • steroid injections should be avoided for a minimum of 6-8 weeks
  • there are alternatives to steroid and antihistamine products that we can use in order to lessen your pet's discomfort during the time leading up to the allergy testing

The Process:

Very small amounts of 50 different allergens and control solutions are injected into the skin. Histamine is used as our positive control and sterile saline is used as our negative control. After 15-20 minutes, all the injection sites are reviewed for swelling and redness of the skin.  If a dog or cat is allergic to a particular allergen, there will be an inflammatory response in the skin. The size and degree of inflammation is compared with that of the control solutions, and this allows the patient's allergies to be determined.

At the time of intradermal skin testing, a blood sample will also be obtained from your pet and sent to an outside lab for serology allergy testing.  These results are cross referenced with the skin testing results for the maximum benefit from hyposensitization therapy (allergy injections or sublingual drops).

**An important point to understand is that neither blood testing nor intradermal skin testing have proven to be useful for identifying allergy to foods. Although some companies offer blood tests for food allergy, we cannot promote their use. For the same reason, we do not offer skin testing for food allergy. Instead, we use specialized hypoallergenic diet trials containing novel or hydrolyzed ingredients.