Wondering what to expect when you're referred to a veterinary dermatologist for intradermal skin allergy testing? Here, our Little Rock, Arkansas vets explain some of the things that you can expect during a consultation.
When your pet comes for their initial consultation, you will first meet one of our technicians from our dermatology department. The technician will record your pet’s medical history and gather any other pertinent information for the doctor. Questions that you may be asked are:
- How long has your pet suffered from allergies?
- What medications is your pet currently taking?
- Has your pet been off of steroids and antihistamines for at least two weeks? (required in order for intradermal skin testing to be accurate)
After your technician has gathered all of the necessary information, the dermatologist will come into the exam room and provide her consultation. If intradermal skin testing is deemed necessary, it can generally be performed that day.
Intradermal Skin Testing
Intradermal skin testing is performed to determine what environmental allergies (weeds, trees, molds, fleas, etc.) your pet may be allergic to. (Please note: no there is no reliable way to test for food allergies) During the test, a series of 60 different allergens are injected under the subcutaneous layer of the skin. If there is a reaction, a welt/hive will develop. The dermatologist will grade the reaction on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest.
Once consent has been given for your pet to be allergy tested, you are welcome to either wait in our lobby, or leave to go run an errand or get something to eat. Whichever you choose, we usually instruct owners to expect at least an hour for testing.
Because the series of injections can be uncomfortable, your pet will be given a light sedative to help ease any stress and keep them from moving during the test. This is done with an injection and can be reversed before your pet leaves.
After our dermatologist has performed the skin testing, an allergy serum will be formulated based on the results. Each serum is developed based on that individual patient’s needs. No two patients will have an identical allergy serum. Our allergen extracts are ordered from the same reputable companies that most human extracts are ordered from.
My Pet Has Been Diagnosed With Allergies – Now What?
During your discharge appointment, you will be provided with an allergy workbook. This will provide a step-by-step guide on administering injections, frequently asked questions, and more. The dermatology technician will do an injection demo with you so that you feel comfortable giving your pet their allergy injections at home. You will be instructed on when to give, how to give, and any reactions that you should watch out for.
Your pet’s serum will be made here in our office, and their injections can be started the same day. Similar to immunotherapy in people, there is a build-up phase required until the full, most effective dose is achieved. It takes one month to get to the build-up dose for dogs and six weeks for cats.
The great thing about allergy immunotherapy, is that the serum your pet will receive is not a drug! It is simply an allergen extract that helps the body change its immune response to the allergens themselves. While many drugs that are approved to help with allergies have the potential of side-effects, immunotherapy is the safest, long-term option in the management of allergies.