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Why should I consider allergy testing?  

After the cause of the allergy has been determined, it can then be treated specifically with an injectable allergy vaccine or in some cases with oral allergy drops (sublingual immunotherapy) that is formulated based on the allergy test results. Allergy vaccines are not always helpful. However, improvement is seen in 70 to 80% of the pets that go on allergy vaccine.

What is an intradermal skin test?

Our intradermal allergy test involves giving 70 small test injections into a patch shaved on the side of the chest about 5 inches wide by 7 inches long. This is done while your pet is lightly sedated and usually while you wait (usually takes about 40 to 60 minutes). After a 10 minute incubation period positive reactions are red by observing redness and/or swelling at the injection sites. This test helps to diagnose environmental allergies. It does not diagnose food allergies.

What medications do I need to avoid before my pet is allergy tested?

Cortisone tablets such as prednisone, Temaril-P, Vetalog, or Medrol should be stopped two to 4 weeks prior to allergy testing. The waiting period may be considerably longer if injectable steroids have been used. Consult your veterinarian before stopping a cortisone as a gradual withdrawal may be recommended. Cortisone-containing eye and ear drops should also be stopped 7-10 days prior to the test if possible. Antihistamines such as Benadryl, hydroxyzine, Zyrtec, and chlorpheniramine must be stopped at least 7 days prior to allergy testing. Neither Atopica® or Apoquel® have to be stoped: neither will affect test results.

Also, it is best not to feed your pet within 12 hours of the skin test, and water should be withheld for 2 hours before the test. No tranquilizer should be given without first checking with Dr. Hansen.

What if I do not want to skin test my pet?

Serum/blood allergy testing may be recommended in place of skin testing under certain conditions. Concurrent medical conditions, medications or other skin issues may prompt a recommendation to perform blood allergy testing. We will submit a blood sample for serologic IgE-specific allergy assay. This may take 8 to 12 days to receive results.

What can be done once the allergies are identified by the skin test?

Once significant allergies are identified, all avoidable allergens are avoided and those that are unavoidable are generally made into an allergy vaccine. With guidance most owners can learn how to give the injections. Our technicians will go over the technique and teach you how to give allergy shots. Adverse reactions to the allergy vaccine are very rare, and most animals adapt to receiving allergy shots readily. If you would rather not give the allergy vaccines, you can bring your pet by the office where our technicians will be happy to give the allergy injections. Alternatively, you may ask your local veterinarian if they would give the injections.

How is the allergy vaccine administered?

In the initial stages the injections are given on alternate days. Gradually the length of time between the injections increases to once every three weeks, but for some pets the injection schedule may need to be modified to every 10 to 14 days. Allergy injections do not cure allergies, but they do help control the symptoms. While it is possible for animals to outgrow their allergies it often takes 10 to 15 years. Allergy injections will likely be necessary for the life of the patient. Click here for vaccine handling and desensitization schedule.

I cannot give shots. Is there any other way to give an allergy vaccine?

Injections of allergens have been used to control allergies for many decades, and studies have demonstrated their usefulness. Oral allergy drops (also called sublingual immunotherapy [SLIT]) is another newer option to help control allergies. A few studies have shown that they are also effective in most patients and we offer Allercept therapy drops as an alternative to allergy injections.

For more information on Allercept therapy drops: https://www.heska.com/Documents/Allergy/ALLERCEPT-IT-Drops-CB-0412-PR.aspx

What are the differences between the allergy vaccine injections and the drops?

  Needles may be purchased online from: https://www.kvsupply.com/Search.aspx?query=Tuberculin

  or   http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=9547+9719+19871&pcatid=19871

  Click here for a comparison handout.

When can I expect to see improvement from the allergy vaccine?

While some pets improve within weeks most pets require 3 to 9 months of therapy to see benefit. Some may take one to two years to show improvement. The response to the treatment may be total or it may be partial. If it is partial other medications may still be necessary to help control some of the symptoms. During the first few months of the injection program many pets will require additional medications (such as an antihistamine, Atopica®, Apoquel®, or low doses of a cortisone drug) to help with comfort. As the allergy injections take effect, and as the symptoms subside these medications should be gradually weaned. Approximately 25% of allergic pets do not respond to the allergy injections.

What are the costs of allergy testing?

The total cost of allergy testing is usually in the range of $800-1200+ which includes the first set of treatment allergens.  

Refill vials of prescription injectable allergens are $230 which lasts about 6 months with the standard injection schedule (given every 3 weeks). Two vials can be ordered that usually last around 1 year for the cost of $325. The cost of syringes is extra. The cost of the allergy vaccine may be higher for certain types of allergies.

Refills of oral allergy drops are $260 and last about 5 months with the standard schedule (given twice daily).

While animals can outgrow their allergies, you should consider the allergy vaccine to be lifelong.

If you have any questions, please ask your veterinarian or Dr. Hansen during your next appointment.      

My pet has flea allergy and/or food allergy.  Will an allergy vaccine still help?

Unfortunately, injections for flea bite allergies do not work in most instances. Strict flea control measures must be implemented for allergic pets and for other pets in the home. Also food allergies can only be diagnosed and controlled with a strict hypoallergenic diet.