Allergy Season for your Pets
It is now spring time and just like humans our pets get allergy problems too. It is always good to have your pet tested for allergies, because an allergic reaction can be fatal. Testing for allergies is very simple and there are only two types of test you can have done with your veterinarian. The first type is a blood test that tests for Antigens.
The Antigen test has two ways to test the blood. One is called the RAST test (radioallergosorbent). The other test is called the ELISA test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). Both test are administered in your local veterinary clinics but most veterinary doctors prefer the ELISA test because it tends to be more accurate.
To perform either of these two tests to determine what substances an animal may be allergic to, a blood sample is drawn from a suspected atopic dog and sent into the lab. The blood is screened for a reaction to a broad range of allergens including pollens, dust, and molds that are common to the geographical area in which the dog lives. Tests for reactions against different foods and contact allergies such as cotton or nylon can also be done, although, the tests perform less accurately for these allergens. The testing generally takes several weeks.
Unfortunately, the RAST and ELISA tests have some inherent problems in their design. They were initially developed for humans and the circulating antibodies that they test for are different in dogs and cats than in people. The result is that there are a lot of false positives. In other words, the test results indicate that your animal is allergic to things that he is really not. For this reason, veterinary dermatologists may opt for intradermal skin testing. The RAST and ELISA tests, however, are used in special circumstances in which intradermal skin testing cannot be performed, such as:
- The skin is too unhealthy to test either due to infection or severe inflammation.
- Prolonged drug withdrawal for antihistamines and corticosteroids cannot be tolerated.
- The dog is very young.
- The dog is a show dog whose hair cannot be clipped.
- Intradermal skin testing is unavailable.
- The intradermal skin test (IDST) is negative, yet atopy is still suspected.
- As a screening test to limit the number of allergens tested for in intradermal skin testing.
Of all of the blood tests performed, the ELISA is the most accurate, and if a blood test must be used then this is the one the author recommends performing.
Another way to test for allergies is similar to what we do with humans. It is called the skin test. They take your pet and shave a square location usually in the belly. Then they set a series of scratches into the skin to see of any reactions. The series of allergies can range from 10 to 20. What ever the pet reacts too is usually what the animal is allergic to.
If you like to learn more about allergies Peteducation.com can tell you all about the allergic process. We hope you have a great spring time with your pet and keep there allergies, like yours at bay so we can enjoy more of the great San Diego weather.