If you're wondering why your dog's trying to bite the fur off of his paws or your cat is wearing streaks of dried mucous under her eyes, you can bet it's because they have allergies - allergies of some kind... but which ones?
Itchy dog (Photo via Donnie Ray Jones)
Many of us are allergic to certain foods and environmental elements. So are our pets. But, until recently, the only way we could find out if our pets had specific allergies was to have them tested at the veterinarian. Though more thorough testing is available through your veterinarian, you might want to consider investigating your pet's allergies yourself through a few test kits that are available direct to the consumer. BUT, if there are any parts of your pet's body where the skin is cut, blistered, or worn, you should take her to the vet ASAP. Moderate to severe allergy reactions (like those of the cat in the image below) should be treated immediately by your veterinarian, who will be in the best situation to advise you on which of the allergy tests you should administer.
Cat with bad allergy reaction should be seen by a vet! (image)
Veterinarians offer the most complete testing through intradermal allergy testing or "skin testing." This testing costs upwards of $260 and involves a series of solutions placed under your pet's skin with needles (about 66). Your pets would be placed under a mild sedative for this type of allergy test.
Intradermal Allergy Testing (image)
Another type of allergy test your vet might use is a blood test. A small amount of blood is sent to a lab that tests for Immunoglobulin E (IgE), the antibody in the specimen that reacts to introduced allergens. This test gives dependable results, but they may not be as specific as the intradermal allergy test.
Now a few companies are offering a saliva or hair test for your dogs and cats that you can administer yourself and, like the new pet genetic tests, you mail them into the company and get results in about 2-3 weeks. Allergy Test My Pet checks for antibodies (IgM, IgA) that react to as many as 150 common pet food and environmental allergies in the saliva. This test could provide enough knowledge about your dog or cat's sensitivities to allow you to control their food and environment just enough to reduce or even eliminate their itching, sneezing, and coughing when in contact with the element. Food allergies are a lot easier to deal with than most environmental allergies.
Allergy Test My Pet evaluates 150 food and environmental substances for reaction, more than other similar tests currently on the market. Here are just some of things tested for:
Your A.T. My Dog results will include the items that your dog or cat is sensitive to - be it particular foods, household products, or airborne allergens. It also includes advice about appropriate strategies to combat the allergy, such as substituting chicken for a fish allergy or one brand of dog food over another. If the allergy is to a household product, then expect to get advice on ways to substitute for that product.
The test kit contains a small bottle for the saliva sample. You need to collect the minimum saliva sample from your pet, as indicated, but it doesn't have to be collected all at once. Just keep adding each sample to the bottle and send the sample in when it's fully collected. Before you order the test, I would advise you read the company FAQ page.
Allergy Test My Dog is a very new product, but those involved in testing it reported that they received interesting information and valuable suggestions for their pets' allergies. Allergy Test My Pet is part of the DNA My Dog Genetic Testing Group. At least by its description and the extent of information it provides to pet parents, the A.T. My Dog is quite competitive with the other mail-in allergy tests.
And... if there's something that the A.T. My Dog doesn't test for, you can custom order a test, say for a specific brand of dog food or for a particular cleaning solution.
That's the buzz for today!