If your pet suffers from allergies, your veterinarian may recommend allergy testing. This test helps to determine the specific substances (allergens) responsible for your pet’s symptoms in order to make your pet more comfortable.

Does pet insurance cover allergy testing?

Yes. As long as your veterinarian recommends it, pet insurance can help pay for allergy testing if your pet is suffering as a result of their itchy skin or other issues. Some pet insurance plans not only reimburse the vet-recommended allergy tests, but also the complete sick visit, too.

What are the costs of allergy testing?

One allergy test alone can cost anywhere from $275 to 350.† That does not include the cost of the examination, additional testing or medications, meaning the entire sick visit may result in a bill for over $1,000!

According to Petplan pet insurance claims data, one insured pet exceeded $5,000 in allergy-related care!

How do allergy tests work?

For pets with allergies there are two vet-recommended tests: intradermal skin testing and serum (blood) allergy testing. You may be referred to a veterinary dermatologist as they can perform and interpret the results from both test types. In some cases, both tests may be needed.†

Serum allergy testing

Serum allergy testing requires a blood sample that is analyzed at a laboratory chosen by your veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist.

Intradermal skin testing

Intradermal skin testing is more time consuming than serum allergy testing. First, a large patch of fur is shaved from the pet’s chest region and approximately 60 small allergen injections are placed between the layers of the skin (intradermal). If your pet is allergic to a particular allergen, a hive will form at the injection site. Some pets may have to be sedated for this procedure.

What will allergy tests show?

Allergy testing evaluates the body’s immune response to common environmental allergens for dogs and cats such as:

  • Tree, weed and grass pollens
  • Dust
  • Mold spores
  • Fleas or other insects
  • Cat and dog dander
  • Human dander

Allergy test results allow veterinarians and veterinary dermatologists to tailor a pet’s individual treatment plans by knowing which allergens to have your pet avoid if possible and which allergens to select for immunotherapy.

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Types of pet allergies

Allergies in pets fall within four types:

  1. Flea allergy
  2. Atopy (inhaled allergies)
  3. Food allergy
  4. Contact allergy

While flea allergies are the most common allergy seen in pets,* food allergies are the least.** In some cases, pets may suffer from more than one type.

Immunotherapy, commonly known as “allergy shots,'' is the most effective treatment for atopy.* It slowly builds your pet’s tolerance to their specific allergen(s) by injecting small amounts under the skin or placing drops under their tongue.

Common allergy symptoms in dogs:

  • Scratching, rubbing, licking and chewing itchy areas - especially ears, face, feet, armpits, and belly
  • Self-induced alopecia (hair loss)
  • Recurrent skin and ear infections
  • Scooting and licking hind end
  • Vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence

Common allergy symptoms in cats:

  • Scratching especially around the head and neck area
  • Self-induced alopecia
  • Recurrent skin infections
  • Coughing, sneezing or wheezing
  • Vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence

* Allergy shots may bring relief to itchy dogs. College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

** What every pet owner should know about food allergies. Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University

† Allergy testing for your pet. UW Veterinary Care, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dec 17, 2019
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