Animal Allergy & Dermatology Center of Central TX

2207 Lake Austin Boulevard
Austin, TX 78703


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/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?

Instead of constantly treating the symptoms of allergic reactions, allergy testing identifies your pet's specific allergies and allows Dr. Nichols to make a plan for desensitizing your pet to those allergens via subcutaneous shots or sublingual drops containing a personalized formula for your pet's needs, thus relieving the symptoms and pain your pet has been experiencing. Allergy testing and subsequent antigen treatment will save you time and money in the long run and improve your pet's quality of life as well as enhance your enjoyment of your animal companion. Early testing can improve the success rate of treatment by as much as 90 percent.

General guidelines prior to testing:

  • A dermatological examination must be performed by Dr. Nichols in order to diagnose and treat infectious causes of skin disease before allergy testing is considered.
  • On the day of testing, do not feed your pet breakfast; water is fine.
  • Topical medications, including shampoos and sprays, that contain steroids and antihistamines should be avoided for at least 2 weeks prior to testing.
  • 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 itching during the time leading up to the allergy testing.

The Process:

Very small amounts of 50 different allergens and control solutions are introduced 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 your 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, allowing determination of your pet's allergies.

At the time of intradermal skin testing, we also obtain a blood sample which we send to a specialized dermopathological laboratory for serology allergy testing.  Dr. Nichols then cross references the blood testing results with the skin testing results to determine the make up of the antigen formula specific for your dog or cat. Over time, your pet then becomes desensitized to their allergy triggers, greatly reducing their suffering and need for constant veterinary care for their allergy symptoms.

Food Allergies:

Neither blood testing nor intradermal skin testing have proven to be successful in identifying allergy to foods. Although some companies offer blood tests for food allergy, we cannot promote their use.  Instead, if a food allergy is suspected, we use specialized hypoallergenic diet trials containing novel or hydrolyzed ingredients to determine your pet's possible food allergies.