The goal of allergy testing is to identify specific substances that are causing an allergic reaction, so that desensitization through allergy shots may be attempted. There are several types of allergy tests performed by veterinary dermatologists.
There is a great deal of controversy about the reliability of blood testing, since the organ that is affected (the skin) is not the organ being tested for a reaction. There are several different types of blood tests offered by biomedical companies, and test results may vary in accuracy which can affect the success rates of immunotherapy. Most veterinary dermatologists use a method of allergy testing known as intradermal skin testing. This involves the injection of very small amounts of pollens (from trees, weeds, and grasses), molds, and insect extracts into the superficial layers of the skin. The test is administered under a light sedative/analgesic so that the patient (dog, cat, or horse) feels no discomfort. This is the only type of allergy testing used at MissionVet Specialty & Emergency (except in very rare cases), as we feel it is the most reliable method.
An important point to understand is that neither blood testing nor intradermal skin testing are useful for identifying food allergies. Although some companies offer blood tests for food allergy, we cannot promote their use. For this reason, we do not offer skin testing for food allergies. Instead, we use specialized hypoallergenic diet trials containing novel or hydrolyzed ingredients.