How to Test Allergies in Dogs

Any person who has suffered from allergies knows that identifying the correct type of allergy can be difficult. You probably know just how uncomfortable and miserable—and potentially dangerous—allergies can be if not properly addressed.

Humans aren’t the only animal that can suffer from allergies. Dogs can also experience a range of allergies, from flea bites and pollen to wheat, soy, milk, and other ingredients used in dog food. Allergic reactions can range from minor to life-threatening and can cause unpleasant symptoms that strike worry in the hearts of dog owners.

Diagnosing allergies can be complicated. Vets can offer two types of allergy testing to evaluate your pet’s health. Here’s a look at how to test allergies in dogs and improve their quality of life

Immune response result of an animal intradermic skin allergy test performed by a veterinary allergist for medical diagnosis of allergies on a dog

When to Visit a Dog Allergy Specialist

Most pet owners will identify a possible dog allergy through the symptoms, including behavioral changes, that a dog exhibits. Those symptoms may include:

  • Itching—in specific locations, or all over the body
  • Swelling in the mouth, ears, eyes, or face
  • Sneezing
  • Running eyes
  • Hives
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Hives
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea

You may also notice your dog compulsively licking its skin. In addition, certain allergies can cause chronic ear infections.

When symptoms develop, it’s wise to contact your local vet, report the symptoms, and find out if additional action is required. When the development of symptoms is acute, you may be asked to closely monitor your dog for the next few days, including the food they eat and/or possible allergens they may have encountered in their environment, such as outdoors.

If symptoms are severe, chronic, or your dog is clearly in discomfort, it’s recommended that you visit a vet promptly to make sure this reaction isn’t being caused by other, more serious health complications.

How Do Vets Test for Allergies in Dogs?

Can dogs be tested for allergies? The short answer is yes: many types of allergies can be diagnosed in a dog. But given the complications that sometimes come with identifying a specific allergy in humans, the process can be even more complicated when dealing with a dog.

If the allergy is suspected to be connected to your dog’s diet, the first step your vet might recommend is a food elimination diet. In the absence of a simple dog food allergy test, this process of elimination will attempt to identify the allergy by systematically removing one type of food from your dog’s diet. This can be a long, tedious process but can be effective if your dog’s allergy is tied to a type of food.

Your vet may also recommend a blood test for dogs with allergies. Some test results may be less reliable than other types of testing but can still be effective at identifying certain antigens that your dog may be allergic to. Another option offered by many vets is intradermal testing, which can be used to identify allergies and determine if certain allergy treatments can reduce the severity of these allergies for your dog.

How Do I Find A Dog Allergy Vet Near Me?

If your dog is showing signs of an allergy, diagnosis and treatment are crucial to protecting your dog and improving its quality of life. Proper diagnosis requires that you visit a veterinary office capable of performing skin and/or blood tests to identify the type of allergy your dog has developed.

Large veterinary offices, and animal hospitals, may have a veterinary allergist on staff to handle the allergy concerns of pet owners. But your local vet office may also have the ability to run tests without an allergy specialist working in their office—even if that means sending samples to a lab to have them analyzed. If you’ve already established care with a veterinary clinic, contact them to see if they’re able to provide allergy testing. Otherwise, contact other local vet offices—such as vets that come recommended by friends and family—and find out which ones can help you find answers to your dog’s allergy concerns.

Whether you’re a dog or a human, allergies can be miserable—and identifying the type of allergy isn’t always easy. For best results, consult with your local vet to develop a testing plan that will eliminate possible allergies and identify what is troubling your dog. Once you’ve identified the cause of the allergies, you can make changes to your dog’s diet, lifestyle, or home environment to make sure your dog’s discomfort is kept at bay—and give your dog the quality of life they deserves.