Does your doggo seem to have an allergic reaction?
Sometimes, it’s not easy to spot whether dogs suffer from an allergy or some other skin diseases. That's where dog allergy testing comes in.
What pet owners may not know is that you can detect dogs' allergies from home, without taking your pets to the veterinarian and performing expensive blood dog allergy testing or skin testing.
Before jumping in, there's knowledge about specific types of allergies and tests that are available to help you recognise and resolve your pet's allergies issues in no time.
Learn all about dog allergies and dog allergy testing in the next few chapters.
Why Should You Submit Your Dog On Allergy Testing?
Allergy testing is a way to get a positive diagnosis for food allergies, contact allergies, or atopy (breathing in pollen, mold, or dust) allergies. Symptoms like scratching, licking the feet, chewing, and red, irritated skin are all clear signs of atopy in the dog or cat. Next to the flea bite, atopy is by far the most common cause of allergies in dogs.
This is where quick home kits for dog allergy testing come in handy. When an allergy to a specific substance is identified, the dog can receive immunotherapy in the form of hyposensitisation injections.
Why Do Dogs Develop Allergies?
You need to understand that skin covers and protects the dog; it's something like saran wrap, for example, a protective barrier.
The problem is that dogs who develop allergies are born with abnormal skin that allows allergens (they are normally present in all environments) to enter the body through the skin and set off an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, these dogs do not have a healthy immune response.
Additionally, this skin inflammation will change the skin's overall health condition and allow secondary invaders like bacteria and yeast to enter the dog's body and make things worse. Most dogs that are susceptible to allergies have a nasty local immune response to these secondary invaders, so on top of all, developing yeast and bacterial infections is unavoidable.
I made sure to pick (in close consultation with a dog allergist, veterinarian & a dermatologist) the best dog allergy test and review it for you. Here's a round-up of the five dog allergy testing tools that proved to be the best.
In a hurry? After 34 Hours of Research, I Recommend:
Why did I deem it the best dog allergy test?
- Stress-free dog allergy testing for your dog
- Requires only hair samples
- 100% accurate allergy test
- Easy to use
- Quick test results
- Testing for over 300 allergens
- Recommended by a dermatologist and veterinarian
How I Picked:
Reviews considered in making a decision
The consumer opinions matter,
and I pick through those thoroughly.
Sources inspected & researched
I gauge the source authenticity & authority before checking the opinions.
Hours spent comparing & researching
I spent the time so you don't have to. The products are reviewed with utmost care.
My selection included all the popular entries from popular sources and was narrowed down to the finest twenty-two.
Last Updated: April 13th 2021
By Michael T.
This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding dog allergy testing available for those who are interested in taking care of their pets the best way. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best dog allergy tests currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
5Strands Allergy Testing Products
- Comparison Table -
No. Of Allergens
Food & environmental allergens
Metals & minerals presence, drug sensitivities
Food allergies (found in pet treats)
Guide to Dog Allergy Testing:
How to Know Whether Your Dog is Allergic to Something
In 99% of the cases, you should be able to spot common dog allergy symptoms:
- Obsessive, constant licking
- Itchy ears
- Biting the skin and body
- Visible signs of skin infections
But the only certain way to find out is to perform allergy testing.
For any dog allergy testing, make sure that your dog is not taking any antihistamines or corticosteroids (at least 2 weeks before the testing), or it can affect the quality of the testing results.
In the meantime, take a look at some tips to ease the symptoms and help your dog:
Once you are positive your dog has allergy symptoms, perform an allergy test, and gather all the information, it's recommended to schedule a veterinary appointment.
In some cases, the allergic reaction can be eliminated by limiting the exposure to the allergen.
But some allergies in dogs, especially skin infections, may require medication.
A specialist may prescribe corticosteroids or antihistamines for dogs, especially in the case of atopic dermatitis and similar skin allergic reactions. In severe cases, an intradermal injection may be needed.
Consequently, your dog can also develop an allergic reaction to the injection. Symptoms vary and they can be grouped into those that:
Require immediate intervention:
Should be reported:
- excess panting
- frequent swallowing
For milder conditions, just make a brand-new diet plan, with some wholesome ingredients, excluding the things your dog is allergic to.
Types of Dog Allergy Tests
1. Strand Hair Test (My Recommendation)
Out of all types of allergy testing for dogs, this allergy test provides the most extensive and reliable sample report.
Here’s how it is performed:
- You receive your allergy test kit (currently, there’s no better than the 5strands one). You’ll have to fill out some info regarding your dog and your address.
- Collect the hair. 10-15 strands should be enough (preferably, pulled out or clipped - not shed).
- Send the whole kit with the sample via mail. You will be provided with a pre-addressed envelope.
- Wait. You will receive a notification email that the test has been delivered to their laboratory, and you should wait for around 5 to 7 days.
- Analyze the report. Upon the arrival of the allergy testing result (again, via email), you can observe what your dog is allergic to. It’s pretty easy to follow (signaled in green, yellow, and red - according to severity).
- Improve your dog’s life! 🙂 Now that you know what’s causing allergies, it’s time to stop that scratching & itching forever, and reevaluate your dog's diet - perhaps go with homemade food so that you can control what your dog takes in?
2. Saliva Testing
Although I suggest strand testing, saliva tests can also be a good approach for dogs - certainly better than blood and intradermal skin allergy tests.
The procedure is quite similar to the hair allergy test, so I won’t describe saliva allergy testing in detail. You’ll receive the allergy testing kit, fill in the info, and mail it back in the pre-addressed envelope.
What differs is that you should put the cotton device in your dog’s mouth and collect the saliva sample until the swab indicates that it is enough.
3. Veterinarian (Blood Allergy Testing/Intradermal Skin Testing)
At-home dog allergy tests are much more convenient than veterinary blood allergy testing and intradermal skin testing.
It is reasonably easy to perform at-home allergy tests, and they show the same results as blood and skin test.
Not to mention that blood and intradermal skin testing is almost three times as expensive as the homemade alternative!
You should opt for a veterinary skin or blood test instead of a home-based one only if you don’t find the ingredient you’re suspicious of on the list of allergens. But that’s very unlikely, especially with the gold standard, 5Strands Test, that contains more than 350.
Veterinary Blood Tests
Veterinarian blood tests include blood samples, and - just like us, humans - our dogs are not too fond of blood extraction. No need to submit your dog to torture!
Veterinary Intradermal Skin Tests
Intradermal skin allergy testing is very unpleasant for dogs. If you've ever had one, you'll know what I'm talking about - it involves the injection of allergens under the surface, and the same goes for dogs.
Since the success of blood and intradermal skins tests are considered to be controversial by many dermatologists, professionals recommend administering injections. The dosing protocol can be selected by the owner and he will be giving injections to the pet. Initially, your dog will receive increasing amounts of PNU - protein nitrogen units.
How Do Dog Allergy Tests Work?
There are two main and most accurate types of dog allergy testing - blood testing and intradermal skin testing. Both types of allergy testing are administered differently, and it has different pros and cons.
The best time to perform these tests is during the allergy seasons when the allergens are high and cause severe allergic reactions; therefore, you will most likely generate an accurate result during this period.
The main rule is that testing should always come after examination for other potential causes and irritators like fleas, mites, bacterial and yeast infections, and hypothyroidism.
Also, the chances are high that your vet will recommend a two-week hypoallergenic diet to rule out a possible food allergy. It is very hard to determine a food even when using a test, so the best way is to combine test and h dietary manipulation. Once potential irritations and food allergy possibilities are ruled out, the vet will order a blood or skin test to determine the exact allergen's presence.
Blood allergy testing - how it's done?
Blood allergy testing is the most common form of testing since it is convenient and easy to do.
This test is performed by taking a blood sample from a patient and submitting the sample to a laboratory for further analysis. The lab then tests the blood, looking for allergen-specific antibodies (IgE) for a number of allergens that are expected to contribute to the allergy, including:
- Food allergens
- Allergic reactions on materials
Each lab uses different techniques to perform the test, and these techniques may vary in accuracy and clinical relevance, of course.
As said, blood allergy tests can also determine food allergies and allergic reactions to materials like cotton or nylon, but this test is less reliable than skin allergy testing.
Pros and cons
Blood allergy testing is convenient, and it can easily be performed in general practice. Also, patients do not have to be sedated or shaved, which is great since this might be stressful for dogs. All that is needed for this procedure is a single blood sample.
However, there are drawbacks to blood allergy testing.
These tests are very often associated with false positives that cannot be confirmed through intradermal skin testing. Positive allergy test results have also been observed with no evidence of atopic dermatitis, and usually, allergen-specific IgE does not correlate with the real clinical picture and severity of the allergic reaction
These findings put a shade on the validity of blood allergy testing. However, the patients treated on the basis of blood allergy testing often report clinical improvement, so blood testing can't be ruled out as a bad decision, but skin testing will always be more accurate.
Skin allergy testing - how it's done?
Skin allergy testing is more invasive since it requires sedation due to the length of time the patient needs to be still. Intradermal skin allergy testing involves injecting small quantities of allergens just under the dog's skin. Approximately 40 to 60 injections are given in a single area of the body, usually the abdomen.
A "positive" response to a specific allergen appears as a swelling at the injection site and is observed within 20 minutes of injection. If the swelling does not occur, it is assumed that the dog is not allergic to that specific allergen.
By examining the visible skin reactions, a dermatologist can determine which allergens are triggering your dog's allergic reactions.
Steps when performing skin allergy testing for dogs:
- The dog is sedated and monitored during the whole procedure
- The dog is placed to lay on its side
- A small area on the dog's side is shaved
- Small needles inject tiny amounts of test allergen just under the skin in a specific pattern and order
- After a few hours, the shaved area is examined to determine which allergens caused the reaction.
Skin allergy testing has been accurate in 75% of cases of determining the presence of dog allergies. But skin allergy tests can be inaccurate if patients have received antihistamines or steroids over the course of months before testing.
Pros and cons
When some other allergy tests are evaluated, they are usually compared to intradermal testing, which is considered a gold standard in allergy testings.
There are some cautions and restrictions for dogs that are about to receive intradermal skin allergy testing:
- Female dogs should not be tested if they are pregnant or in heat (hormones impacts testing)
- A test should be performed at the end of the allergy season
- No baths should be given at least five days before testing
- Dogs must fast the morning of the procedure
This test cannot be performed if the dog has received the following medications:
- Long-acting injectable steroids within 90 days prior to testing
- Oral steroids within 30 days prior to testing
- Topical steroids 14 days prior to testing
- Antihistamines 7 days prior to testing
- Essential fatty acids 7 days prior to testing
This can be challenging for some dogs who suffer from severe pruritus when medications are discontinued.
Also, a need for sedation or anaesthesia is a problem for many owners. A small disadvantage is that all hair must be clipped from the test site, which may present a significant disadvantage for show dogs.
Finally, intradermal allergy testing requires an experienced dermatologist to administer the test and interpret the results, which can present a significant obstacle for clients in rural areas.
However, these types of tests are always performed by the vet, if you want to do a quick allergy check up at home on your own, you can always acquire home allergy test kits. Below you can read our comprehensive home allergy kits review.
5 Best Products for Allergy Testing
My Rating: 96/100
I can understand you all feel miserable when you still keep trying to implement their already poor diet with some new ingredients only to watch them becoming once again itchy, bloated, and gassy.
The first option is to visit the veterinarian and schedule blood or intradermal skin testing, which may cost you fairly enough and, in general, is very unpleasant.
The second option is to try an at-home test kit. 5Strands 300 Test For Dogs (pets) is an affordable, stress-free (for both your dog and you) at-home test that will allow you to test your dog for over 300 common food and environmental allergens. To be more specific, you can test your dog for 255 food allergies and 100 environmental allergens. Click on this link for a full list of specific allergens.
The 5Strands allergy test uses bio-resonance technology. The machine runs electronic frequency through the sample of your pet's hair and detects imbalances in enzymes, which allow them to process substances efficiently. Sounds like science fiction, right? But it is actually rather simple to use.
The allergy testing kit includes an envelope you will use to collect 5 to 15 strands of your dog's fur and mail it back to the testing facility. After a week, they will mail your testing results with personalized guidelines for improving your pet's diet.
You can use this kit on all breeds. This test is 100% accurate, and it will detect even long-term skin allergy reactions, which are hard to detect and have a delayed onset.
Remember, this test is no substitute for making a veterinary appointment! The best thing you can after you get your dog tested is to go to your vet with the positive results and discuss them so you can come up with the best possible diet for your pet.
If you doubt your pupper might be allergic to something, I recommend you to get it tested with the 5Strands Pet 300 Test and narrow the options if you get a positive result.
My Rating: 92/100
Our dogs are playful little things, aren't they? They will put their paws, noses, and mouths everywhere, literally everywhere they can. Don't get me wrong - that can be very cute, but it can be extremely dangerous since some toxic substances are not obvious. Some are even airborne or found in our regular household products.
For example, did you know that toys, balls, meds, and even your dog's ceramic glazed food or water bowl can be a source of heavy metal and mineral toxicity? This also means tests will indicate positive results for any food-specific reaction.
Household objects and toys are not the only allergens dogs deal with. Indoor appliances such as chemical cleaners and even central heating systems can provoke allergic reactions in dogs. Regular filter and air ducts checking can help, but that won’t make your dog’s allergy any easier in the long-run.
The bad thing is that toxicity symptoms look very similar to digestive problems (fatigue, constipation, appetite loss), so you can easily overlook them. You need to pay attention to some other symptoms, such as specific skin problems, insomnia, anemia, hypertension, etc.
So why risk your pet's health when you can detect heavy metal and mineral poisoning in the early stages by using a simple home hair test by 5Strands? You can get both your dogs and cats tested for the 40 most common environmental metal and mineral allergens.
This hair strand test may detect imbalance of minerals and metals such as:
To get your pet tested, simply pull out 5 to 15 strands of its hair, pack it in the special envelope that came with the package, and send it to the testing facility. Their 5Strand team will screen the sample and mail you the extensive result report in between 5 and 7 days.
Keep in mind that the result will be positive just for items that exceeded the threshold set by the lab. Also, it won't indicate physical measurements of the amount of metal and minerals in the body. For that type of result, you will need to take your dog for blood or HTMA testing.
Knowing what toxins are causing the problem will help you at the veterinary appointment to make the necessary diet changes and eliminate the excess amount of allergen out of your body.
I highly recommend you to use this test for allergy testing alongside the previous one since not all allergies are caused by food intolerance; some might be a result of exposure to heavy metals and minerals.
My Rating: 88/100
Usually, even the slightest amount of allergen may make a mess in your pet's body, no matter the source. Of course, you may not notice this at the beginning since the allergen may need time to accumulate in the body and have delayed onset.
There are numerous cases where pets may be exposed to the allergen on a daily basis without owners even knowing it, through treats. Yes, it sounds ridiculous - but even those tiny teeny amounts of allergens over time can cause some serious allergies and allergic reactions.
Symptoms like hair loss, joint pain, inflammation, and dry skin are the best indicators of skin allergy. Inflammation causes the skin cells not to absorb nutrients properly, which inhibit certain skin & body functions. This nutrient imbalance for certain nutrients occurs since most commercial dog food and treats are of poor quality.
That is why it is always smart to test whether your dogs are positive on the most common foods that can be found in treats. This test will allow you to alternate their food or supplementation according to the allergies you've found.
5Strands Dog Nutrition dog allergy test is an at-home test that will indicate which supplement, mineral, vitamin, or any other food ingredient your pet's body is not absorbing properly. This test tests your dog for 50 most potential food allergens that can be found in popular dog treats such as Bones, Jerky, Tendons, Hoofs, etc.
Even though the limited ingredient list is the main flaw of this test, it will help you to make a decision about which brand of treats you should avoid and which you should continue to use.
If your fur baby suffers from some kind of food allergy, you should keep in mind that many dog treats contain a lot of potential items that can trigger an allergic reaction.
My Rating: 85/100
Just like us, humans, dogs can be allergic to invisible allergens such as pollen, fleas, dust mites in their bed, or they can be sensitive to trees, grasses, flowers... the possibilities for allergies are endless. These kinds of allergies are often mild but make their skin go itchy.
Anyhow, if you are sure your dog has no food allergy and you suspect that something from the surrounding triggers the allergic reaction, this is the solution: you can opt to test your dog at your veterinary clinic, or you can use an at-home dog test.
The 5Strands Dog Environmental Intolerance Test covers dog allergens such as grass, trees, mold, animal dander, fabrics, and cleaning materials. It test covers 100+ allergy triggers.
The environmental intolerances are classified into three levels based on the response after exposure. Level 3 allergens cause discomfort to your pet, and it is recommended to avoid exposure to them for 6 to 8 weeks until it passes through the system. Level 2 allergies may cause significant health issues and noticeable symptoms. Level 1 allergies may affect your pet's body on a cellular level.
Click on this link to find out the complete list of environmental factors tested.
This test will help you manage symptoms your dog might be experiencing. Keep in mind that intolerances do not involve the immune system, unlike allergies.
Pluck out 5 to 15 strands of your pet's hair and mail them to the testing facility in an envelope provided for that and wait 7 to 10 days to get your results back.
The results will come with guidelines provided by the 5Strand team of experts, but it does not include the food recommendations. Then you can visit your vet with all the information you obtained and find the best possible solution.
When you know that the food is not a trigger for your pup's allergic reaction, the next logical step is to check the living environment. Fleas, dust mites, and molds are common skin allergens for dogs, and this Pet Environmental Only test will help you discover if your best friend is in danger when exposed to them.
My Rating: 88/100
Most dogs suffer from food allergies. There are so many allergens in food that we are not aware of; it is not unusual that you discover dogs have an allergic reaction to certain food ingredients after years and years of living together.
Food allergies usually cause an upset stomach, vomiting, nausea, skin itching, hair loss, paw biting, etc. Consider testing dogs for food allergies if you notice some of these symptoms. They will appear between several hours or even 2-3 weeks upon exposure.
Causes of the most common food allergies are proteins, peanut, wheat, corn, and dairy. Most commercial dog food contains ingredients like wheat, corn, and chicken, so it is a great idea to test your furry best friend on foods on time and prevent exposure to irritants.
The 5Strands Food Trial Test covers 250+ items that include proteins, fats, grains, veggies, fruits, seafood, additives, and preservatives. The results will show only the allergens your dog registered sensitivity to. This test does not register allergies that are caused by the immune system.
Level 3 allergies need a 6-8 week elimination period and in this period, make sure not to feed your dog with any unfamiliar food item. You can never know how they will respond to them, and you can harm their overall health. Level 2 and Level 1 allergens should not be consumed by dogs more than 23-3 times per week.
After you send the hair sample to the testing facility, you will get the result back in 7 to 10 days.
The result will show what food items are causing allergies, so you will be able to eliminate them from the dog's diet and soothe the symptoms until they disappear.
Make sure to consult your vet after getting the result back. In most cases, after the elimination period (6-8 weeks), you can reintroduce foods to your dog one at a time in small amounts and see if the symptoms reappear.
Food intolerance is the main trigger for allergic reactions in dogs and cats, so why not use this 5Strands Food trial and prevent unpleasant reactions by testing them in advance!
- Frequently Asked Questions -
Q: Is allergy testing for dogs accurate?
A: If you’re wondering at-home allergy tests can substitute expensive skin or blood testing at the veterinarian - yes, they can. These allergy tests are accurate in the sense that they will determine the cause of allergies, skin problems, etc. It’s important to find a reliable testing brand, though, and that’s what I did in my review - 5Strands Pet is the gold standard.
Q: How do you test for allergies in dogs?
A: There are different kinds of testing methods for detecting allergies in dogs. The best are hair tests.
You can also perform a skin test or a blood test if you make an appointment with a veterinarian, but it isn't necessary.
For more info, refer to the type of dog allergy test.
Q: What is the most common food allergy in dogs?
A: Some of the most common food allergies dog owners report include:
- Peanut allergies
- Believe it or not, corn
- Proteins (beef, pork, turkey, etc.)
- Dairy products
Q: Is there a shot to get rid of dog allergies?
A: In severe cases, your dog might need an intradermal injection shot to help him with a strong reaction in the immune system, but mostly, you will cure allergies by determining the allergen and getting rid of it.
After All Is Said & Done, I Recommend:
Why did I deem it the best dog allergy test?
Dog Allergy Testing - Final Word
Now you learned how to solve all the persistent infections, skin issues such as atopic dermatitis, swelling, etc. The key to the solution is finding the cause, and these allergy tests will help you!
Your doggo will be immensely grateful for this.
I also recommend getting a test as a preventive, even if your dog doesn't show clear symptoms of allergies.