Categorized | Skin Care

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Treating Dog Allergies With Prescription Pet Meds – Canine Allergy Testing

Patches of inflamed skin, chewing and licking the feet may be indicators your dog suffers from atopy. If you have ruled out flea allergy dermatitis as the cause of your dog’s constant scratching, his allergies may be from inhaling dust, mold or pollens. Your veterinarian may recommend coat tar shampoos or topical ointments as initial treatment of the inflamed, irritated skin.

Relieving the itch with skin soothing shampoos may allow the skin to heal if the problem is a temporary allergic reaction further aggravated by chewing and licking of the area.

If the allergic reaction in your dog continues, your vet might suggest allergy testing in order to isolate the specific source of the animal’s discomfort.

Blood Testing

The most accurate results are from the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) blood test which looks for antibodies in the blood that are a result of an allergic reaction.

A second blood test commonly used is a RAST (radioallergosorbent) test.

To check for antibodies, the vet will draw a blood sample which is tested by a lab which screens for a wide variety of allergens. The range includes dust, molds, and pollens most commonly found in the area. The tests can also look for food and contact allergies that might be caused by fabrics or other common irritants although blood tests are less accurate for this type of reaction.

The problem with blood testing using ERISA and RAST is that the tests were developed to isolate human allergens. They test for different antibodies in dogs and there are often false positives.

Blood testing for canine allergic reactions can be a useful screening method to narrow the range of possible causes for the irritated skin. The tests are non-invasive and are commonly used for young dogs, dogs that cannot tolerate corticosteroids and for show dogs with hair that cannot be shaved for other tests.

Testing for Allergies with Intradermal Skin Testing

The most accurate and thorough test for allergic reactions in dogs is the intradermal skin testing. This is the same method often used for people with unknown allergies and involves shaving a small area of fur. Minute amounts of antigen are injected in a pattern on the skin. The precise pattern is important so that any raised areas showing a reaction to the allergen can be identified.

Skin testing works more accurately when it’s done during the season when the animal has shown allergic reactions in the past. Reading the results of skin tests accurately can result in identification of the cause of the allergy to be as high as 75%.

Allergy Tests Share Similarities

Identifying the cause of your dog’s itchy, irritated skin allows your veterinarian to prescribe a course of treatment to avoid future reactions. He may choose to treat the animal’s response (antibodies) to the irritant or may devise a treatment plan to desensitize the dog. A series of injections administered over weeks or months can allow the animal to develop immunity to the item he is allergic to. After immunity is established, an occasional booster shot is all that’s needed to keep your dog’s skin healthy and itch-free.

Prior to testing for allergies in dogs, your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical to rule out other causes of skin problems. Fungi, yeast or bacterial infections, fleas and mites can be the reason your dog’s skin is red and itching. Those possibilities must be ruled out before moving forward with tests for specific allergies.

Your vet my also ask you to restrict your dog’s diet for several weeks prior to conducting any allergy tests. Eliminating parasites, infections and the possibility of a food allergy will narrow the range of potential problems. If mites or infection are the problem, these are easily treated with prescription pet meds.

Identifying and treating the cause of allergies in dogs requires patience and commitment of the pet owner. Not all veterinarians are skilled in the art of skin testing for allergies so taking your dog to a vet that specializes in dermatology may be necessary to solve the problems.

The owner can monitor for food allergies with the advice of his vet and can find discount medications for allergies in dogs online when they are prescribed. The skin testing for allergens should only be pursued if the owner is willing to follow a long course of treatment to desensitize the animal and if the treatment is available from a veterinarian in his area.

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