Should My Pet Have an Allergy Test?
If your pet has any of the following symptoms, an intradermal allergy test should be considered to identify if enivironmental/insect allergies are an underlying cause of your pet's issues:
- Excessive itching and scratching
- Licking/chewing of patch of skin, hair, tail, paw
- Discoloration (redness) of the skin
- Recurring skin infections
- Recurring ear infections
- Unpleasant odor from skin, hair, or ears
- Recurring rashes
- Hair loss
- Face rubbing
What are the Benefits of Allergy Testing?
Intradermal Allergy Testing (IDAT) identifies the exact environmental and insect allergens to which your pet is allergic, thus allowing treatment to focus on stopping symptoms at their origin. This approach allows you to break the frustrating cycle of reactions, infections, and treatments which provide only temporary relief and cost you time and money.
After testing, Allegy Specific Immunotherapy (ASIT) is utilized to desensitize your pet to their allergy triggers. ASIT is a disease-modifying therapy in which small amounts of the substances your pet is allergic to are introduced into their system on a regular basis in order to retrain their immune system. Your pet should start responding to treatments in 3-12 months, greatly reducing the frequency and duration of symptoms. You will then maintain your pet on ASIT throughout their life in order to control their allergies.
As ASIT uses only substances found in nature to teach your pet's body to not overreact to allergens, it is much safer and easier than constantly treating allergic reactions with costly medications which may have harmful side effects.
What is the Process?
While your pet comfortably snoozes with the help of light sedation, Dr. Nichols shaves a rectangle of hair from their side and introduces small amounts of local allergens into the skin. He then utilizes his over twenty years of experience administering allergy tests to interpret the inflammatory response of each allergen.
At the time of intradermal skin testing, he also obtains a blood sample which he sends to a specialized dermopathological laboratory for serology allergy testing. Blood (serum) allergy testing identifies the IgE levels in the blood, so serves as secondary information to the detailed intradermal skin test. Allergy identification and immunotherapy should not be based on only blood testing.
How Do I Prepare?
Before scheduling an appointment for Allergy Testing, you will first have an examination and consultation appointment with Dr. Nichols to determine if environmental allergies are the likely cause of your pet's symptoms, as well as diagnose and treat any infections which may be present.
You will discontinue medications and treatments which will interfere with the test results -
- 6 weeks prior to testing, no oral and/or injectable steroids
- 2 weeks prior to testing, no topicals containing steroids or antihistamines (including shampoos and sprays)
- 7-10 days prior to testing, no fish oil supplements or oral antihistamines (such as Benadryl)
There are alternatives to steroid and antihistamine products that we can use in order to lessen itching during the time leading up to the allergy testing.
On the day of testing, you will not feed your pet breakfast, although water is fine.
You will drop off your pet at AADC in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, at which time you will receive the results of the intradermal skin test. The serology test results will return from the laboratory in approximately ten days.
What Happens After Testing?
Dr. Nichols will cross-reference the skin test results with the serum test results to formulate an antigen personalized to your pet's test results. This antigen will be used to desensitize your pet's immune system to their specific allergies.
AADC will custom-make your pet's ASIT antigen which you administer at home through either sublingual (under the tongue) drops or subcutaneous (under the skin) injections. Drops are given twice daily with no food or water allowed fifteen minutes before or after administration. Injections are given under the skin at the nape of the neck every three days for a five week initiation period and then only once per week. The chosen method is determined by the number of allergens your pet is allergic to as well as your preference. AADC provides a free demonstration appointment to learn the simple process.
Claire likes to dress up for her visits to Dr. Nichols.
She feels so much better after starting Allergy Specific Immunotherapy via sublingual drops.