Much like us humans, dogs can get allergies too. These allergic reactions can greatly impact their quality of life. Sometimes, even more so than us humans, because they can't just pop a pill or take some eye drops.
This is where allergy testing becomes vital. In this post, we'll explore the ins and outs of allergy testing for dogs, and also discuss some of the options.
What causes allergies in dogs?
Allergies in dogs can be triggered by a variety of allergens. Common substances include environmental irritants like pollen and dust, certain food ingredients, and even fleas or other parasites.
The symptoms of these allergies often manifest as persistent itching, skin problems, or gastrointestinal issues. Unlike humans though, it's more difficult to see skin changes on a dog. Although underneath the fur the skin may look reddened and have rashes, this is not immediately obvious to the naked eye.
If you find that your dog seems to scratch a lot, or keeps changing positions, or sneezes frequently, these may be a sign that he or she is allergic to something.
It's essential to identify these allergens early to provide your dog with the relief they need.
Common Allergens for Dogs
|Pollen (see below), Dust Mites, Mould, Grass (see below)
|Beef, Chicken, Dairy, Wheat, Soy
|Certain fabrics, Cleaning products, Rubber, Plastic
|Seasonal Pollen Allergens
|Tree Pollen (spring), Grass Pollen (summer), Weed Pollen (fall)
Dog Allergy Test Options
Intradermal Skin Testing
In humans, the skin prick allergy testing is one of the most common ways to test for allergies to different substances.
Intradermal skin testing is, if you wish, the dog equivalent to skin prick tests. It is also regarded as the gold standard in allergy diagnosis for dogs. A veterinarian injects a small amount of different common allergens under your dog's skin and then observes their reaction.
For this to be done, dogs and other pets would need to be sedated (otherwise they just won't stay still). The sedation is quick and reversible and is the safest way to perform this test.
If the dog is allergic to an injected allergen, there will be a localised swelling around the injection site. The larger this swelling, the stronger the allergy. If no swelling develops, then the dog is not allergic to the corresponding allergen.
Common allergens that are tested include house dust mites, moulds, various foods, and different types of pollen that may be present throughout the year. If you think your dog is allergic to a particular type of pollen, you could check a pollen count tracker to see what the counts are. If high in your area, and your dog is having troubling allergy symptoms, that's a high indication that there may be an allergy there.
Blood Testing (RAST)
A blood test, or RAST/ radioallergosorbent test is used to determine whether a dog is allergic to certain substances.
RAST requires a single blood sample which needs to be drawn by your veterinarian during one of the routine check up visits.
This blood sample is then sent to the laboratory and the results usually come back within 1-2 weeks.
Sedation is not always necessary, as the blood sampling process can be quite quick. However, this depends on how well your dog behaves.
RAST testing can be done on a wide variety of foods, moulds, pollens (trees, grasses, weeds) and other substances.
This last method only really works if you are concerned your dog may have a food allergy. It's also not really an allergy test.
This method involves feeding your dog a restricted diet and gradually reintroducing foods to identify the allergen. It's advisable to consult with either a vet or a dog nutritionist before attempting this.
Preparing for your dog's allergy test
If you do decide to get allergy testing done for your dog, you must follow the instructions received from your vet. Not doing so could give false positives or false negative results.
Generally the advice here is to let your dog continue to eat what they normally do and not make any changes prior to the allergy test.
If your dog is taking any medication, including antihistamines, these should stop for at least 5 days prior to the test.
Managing your dog's allergies
So now you've identified that your dog has certain allergies. What's next?
Once the allergens are identified, a combination of environmental control, dietary management, and medical treatment often becomes necessary.
For environmental allergens such as dust and pollens, simple changes like regular bathing, using hypoallergenic bedding, and air purifiers can make a significant difference.
For food allergens, dietary management, such as hypoallergenic diets or specific nutritional supplements, plays a crucial role in controlling food allergies.
Medical treatments for all allergies might include prescribed medications such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, or even immunotherapy for more severe cases.
Importantly, ongoing consultation with your veterinarian is essential to monitor your dog's response to treatment and make adjustments as needed.
The role of supplements in managing dog allergies
Supplements can have a life changing role in managing allergies in dogs.
Certain supplements such as probiotics for dogs help support the immune system which is often compromised in allergic conditions. They also aid in maintaining a healthy gut flora, which is vital for dogs with food sensitivities and can improve overall immune function.
Our collagen for dogs helps support the skin, which again can be irritated, often found to be dry and laden with eczema. This formulation also contains vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, which help skin and coat health as they are both essential nutrients that might be lacking in a dog's regular diet.
All our products are thus designed to provide nutritional support that complements your dog's allergy management plan. They are also made in the UK, always natural and pure, with no fillers, bulkers or artificial flavourings or colours.
Allergy testing is a crucial step in ensuring your dog's well-being. If you suspect your dog has allergies, we encourage you to consult with your vet and consider allergy testing.
Explore our range of natural products and feel free to reach out for more information on how we can help.