top of page

Dog allergy test

Updated: Mar 26

Considering having an allergy test for your dog due to symptoms, but not sure which test is best? Difficult to navigate, because there are several allergy tests, each with its advantages and disadvantages?

In this guide, we will see the difference and the efficiency between the tests:

  • Canine skin allergy tests

  • Canine blood allergy tests

  • Canine Saliva Allergy Tests

Allergy management is a long-term job that requires a lot of rigor. Eradicating the problem would be ideal, but you still need to be able to identify it. That is not always the easiest case.

What is a canine allergy?

An allergy is an abnormal reaction of your dog's body to defend itself against a foreign substance called an allergen. An allergy can manifest itself in different forms:

  • Skin allergy as with eczema

  • Respiratory allergy such as asthma

  • Eye allergies such as conjunctivitis

In order to fight against an allergy, it is important to identify the responsible allergen in order to avoid contact with your dog.

To authenticate an allergen, you need to perform different tests on your dog, but still understand that each has certain advantages and disadvantages, and depending on your situation, one of the tests may be more appropriate than the other.

Which allergy test to choose for a dog?

Many factors should be taken into consideration to select the most appropriate test such as:

  • health status of the skin

  • the general state of health of the dog

  • the ability to withdraw certain medications before a test

  • the time of year

  • and even the breed of dog to be tested

In many cases, the combination of the different tests gives better results.

Skin tests - test under the skin

The intradermal skin test (IDR) is a medical procedure performed directly under your dog's skin through injections of allergens.

The cutaneous or intradermal test is carried out if your dog has allergic symptoms concerning above all airborne allergens, such as:

  • dust mites

  • grass and tree pollen

  • animal epithelial cells (skin cells)

  • mold

The veterinarian-dermatologists will determine the choice of allergens tested according to their environment, because the number of allergens during a test is limited.

How is the allergy skin test performed?

The veterinarian injects a small amount of allergen into the skin to see if any swelling appears at each injection site.

To do this, the dog first receives a sedative so as not to feel pain, then it is shaved on the rib cage where the analysis is carried out. Once the area is marked out, the veterinarian injects the allergens under the skin in a defined order.

After about ten minutes, inflammatory reactions may be visible in the injection area:

  • If a red swelling appears, the dog is allergic to this allergen

  • If no swelling appears, the allergen does not produce an allergy

There are around a hundred allergens that can be detected with this method, but unfortunately the analysis only allows this to be done with a maximum of ten at a time.

The advantage of this intervention is the speed of the results that you receive immediately at the end of the test. This will allow you not to waste time to fight against the allergy.

Blood tests - blood

The blood test is an analysis of a blood sample from your dog to determine the number of antibodies involved in allergic reactions.

This test can be very effective if it is carried out quickly after a new contact with the allergen because the immune system will thus have produced a large number of antibodies to protect itself and therefore more easily detectable.

The IgE antibody is often mentioned in this research because its presence in large quantities can testify to an allergic pathology. However, they are not very specific and can also be found in high quantities in other diseases.

But they remain very effective in determining the existence of a genetic predisposition.

How is the allergy blood test performed?

A blood test is necessary to collect a sample from a vein by inserting a needle after applying compression. Generally, for a dog, the blood sample is taken from the vein in the front leg or the jugular vein in the neck.

A blood test is not painful and is generally performed on a vigilant animal. However, if your dog is too stressed by the operation, sedation can be performed.

Shearing of the punctured area is practiced if the vein is not clearly visible. After the blood test, a bandage pressing lightly on the site of the puncture helps to stop the bleeding. It is removed a few minutes later.

The search for antibodies in a sample is possible thanks to serology.

Serology is a biological method for establishing diagnoses by studying serums and what they contain, such as antibodies and antigens.

It is a specialty of medical biology that is practiced only in the laboratory. You will therefore have no direct contact with the serologist, who sends his reports to the veterinarian to help him establish his diagnosis.

The advantage of serological tests is that they can provide an affirmative or negative answer as to the presence of antibodies. The disadvantage is the wait of several weeks before receiving the results, which they can provide in some cases only partial information and limited interest.

Saliva tests - saliva

The saliva test is an analysis of a sample of your dog's saliva to determine the presence of antibodies that may indicate a food or environmental intolerance or sensitivity.

Attention, it is important to make the difference between allergy and intolerance. The main difference lies in the "immunological" nature of the reaction:

Intolerance does not involve immune mechanisms.

Intolerance is most often manifested by digestive disorders, fatigue or skin disorders. Generally, laboratories propose to analyze IgG antibodies which are markers of transient intolerances, but which can go up to more than 120 food or environmental allergens.

A dog's level of intolerance to each allergen is classified in one of three ways:

  • Strong intolerance positive for the allergen tested

  • No intolerancenegative for the allergen tested

  • Mild intolerancesmall reaction to allergen, but levels are not high enough for a positive reading

How is the saliva allergy test performed?

The saliva test can be taken directly from your home by following the instructions of the laboratory and without the intervention of your veterinarian.

The samples are taken using a mouth swab or a small brush that will allow you to rub inside your dog's mouth for 1 minute. To do this, it is recommended that the dog salivates enough to soak the head of the swab, so the use of a treat can help you during this operation. But avoid giving the treat before the end of the sampling.

As the collection is done from home, please do not waste time sending samples back. The laboratory asks to return the samples the same day as the sampling so that the detection can be the most effective.

The advantage of the saliva test is the ease of the procedure:

  • Painless: it requires no injection

  • Fast: results within 4 to 5 days

  • No trips or operations on the part of the veterinarian

  • Cheaper


Some tests may only be done after stopping medical treatments, including antihistamines or steroid medications.

Under no circumstances should you stop medications without first consulting your regular veterinarian.

In order to safely track waiting times. If withdrawal of the drug is not possible, it is preferable to wait until the end of the treatment before taking the samples. Upon receiving your results, please consult your veterinarian and do not interpret the lab report of an allergy test on your own.


bottom of page