Is A Dog Home Allergy Test Worth The Money?

Got an itchy dog? Or maybe one that likes to lick? Perhaps you’ve thought that your dog is afflicted with allergies. I know, my dog, Henry has a tendency to lick himself. I started thinking maybe he had an allergy. We all are exposed to a lot of environmental irritants, pollens, and foods that could cause an issue. But how do we know what is really an issue for our dogs? To resolve the question, I purchased a dog home allergy test for Henry.

First, I researched which one would be best and bought it. Then I recently took the results to his vet. I was shocked at what I learned. You might be amazed at this one as well. Today, let’s dig in and discover if a dog home allergy test is worth the money.

*Updated: November 15, 2023

cute dalmatian puppy yawns as his human wonders if a dog home allergy test is worth the money
disclaimer note
Budget tip:

The good news here is the best option is an elimination diet. That means you don't have to waste money on tests. It may take a while to discover the answers you want, but the answers will be accurate. This is a win-win for your dog's health and your dog budget! What could be better? Although, if your dog is allergic to environmentals, pollens, or chemicals, it will take involving your vet. However, even still if you suspect a certain chemical or pollen, trying to eliminate or reduce the exposure may help tremedously! Plus, that's FREE!

What is a dog home allergy test?

You can find these tests easily online at various pet supply stores and big box pet stores. They will ask for either fur samples or saliva. Some of these at-home dog tests will say they simply are a “sensitivity test”. Meanwhile, others will boast they are an allergy test. 

What is tested in a home dog allergy test? 

This will vary by brand and maker. However, most will say they test for various food allergies, chemicals, pollens, seasonal allergies, and other environmental allergy irritants. The number of items tested for will vary, but generally, they will include basic chicken, beef, turkey, rice, grasses, and everyday chemicals (such as those used for cleaning and in such items as dog shampoos). 

NOTE: A dog allergy test at home, whether done with dog hair or saliva is different than a dog DNA test. I have not looked at the accuracy of dog DNA testing. My thought with Henry has always been that half the fun is in the guess. Besides, I’d be very disappointed if I couldn’t call him a “cock-a-freaking-poo” when he does something naughty. 

Are there allergy symptoms can I see in my dog?

Of course, pet allergy symptoms can vary depending on what is causing the allergy and if it’s a seasonal allergy. However, some of the most common symptoms can include:

  • licking
  • skin rash
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • watery eyes
  • atopic dermatitis

What did Henry’s test results reveal?

I had my fingers crossed that these test results would point to the cause of what I believed were Henry’s allergy symptoms (licking, fatigue, constipation). I read them carefully. Actually, I read them several times. According to the dog home allergy test Henry took, which again was a dog hair test and not a saliva test, he is sensitive to (but not experiencing an allergic reaction) most everything. YIKES!

After about my fourth read-through on the test results, I thought, “well this might explain Henry’s stomach and licking issues.” This test showed Henry has a major food intolerance. Okay, I began to think I had some answers.

But what did Henry’s vet say about the home dog allergy test?

I have to say, I was sort of pleased with myself to be able to present this new information to the vet. But, it wasn’t met with much fanfare. He was trying to be polite and not laugh at me. The vet looked at me and asked what was tested. I told him it was Henry’s dog hair. He then explained that research has been done on various home mail-in dog allergy and sensitivity kits. They tested dogs that they knew had no allergies. Dogs they knew had allergies. Even toy stuffed dogs and water in place of saliva.

What were the test results from these home allergy kits?

None of these dog allergy tests were accurate. The dogs that legitimately had allergies come back without any. For those dogs without any allergies, the tests came back showing they had a multitude of allergies and sensitivities. And yes, even the poor stuffed toy dog had allergies as did the water. Henry’s vet continued to say that most vets up to date on veterinary medicine don’t recommend allergy tests for pets anymore.

What can you do to see if your dog has allergies?

The best way to deal with allergy symptoms is with an elimination diet. However, this method isn’t quick and won’t account for pollens, environmental allergy irritates, seasonal allergies, or chemical allergies. 

If you and your vet have serious concerns about your dog’s allergic reaction or allergy symptoms, there is only one accurate allergy test. But it isn’t inexpensive and it requires shaving the side of your dog to do traditional intradermal skin testing for allergens. However, if there is a real need to know the exact allergy issues to provide relief for your dog’s symptoms, this option is available. Although, if your dog has more serious symptoms, then your vet may refer you to a veterinary dermatologist for testing and treatment.

What’s the best dog allergy test available?

During this visit, Henry’s vet said he had his dog tested in vet school many years ago as part of a study on dog allergies. The test he had done was the gold standard intradermal skin testing. This type of skin allergy test will shave your dog and prick his or her skin with a possible allergen. But the test results are very accurate. 

Thus, if you live near a vet school, you could ask if your dog could be tested at the school. That could be a more economical way to skin test your dog for allergies.

Are blood allergy testing for dogs a good option?

You might have heard about blood allergy testing for pets. While it’s easier to do a blood test than shaving the side of your dog and administering possible allergens, it’s not as accurate. It can often return a false positive. But it is cheaper than the best allergy test of skin testing for dogs. However, if it’s not accurate, it’s really not worth doing in the first place. 

What did I learn from Henry’s home dog allergy test?

After this experience I decided that even if I think I’m doing a good thing and I’m being proactive, to call and talk with Henry’s vet first before acting. The good news is I didn’t waste any real money, just credit card points. 

FAQs

How accurate are dog allergy tests?

The only accurate dog allergy test is a traditional intradermal skin test performed by your vet. All other dog allergy tests at this point in time are very inaccurate.

Are at-home dog allergy tests accurate?

No. They are not accurate at all. It’s best to not waste your money.

Does pet insurance cover dog allergy testing?

That will depend on your pet insurance. I always recommend reading your policy or calling your insurance support number to verify.

How much does a dog allergy test cost?

Honestly, it will depend on the type of allergy test you select. Hopefully, at this point you won’t waste your money on an inaccurate home test. However, those can be as low as $30 (or free if you use your credit card points like I did for Henry).

But if you decide to do an accurate traditional intradermal skin test, it can vary by vet and location. For example, a vet school should be much more economical. Although, you can expect to pay in the range of $80-350.

Summary of is a dog home allergy test worth the money?

There are so many things us dog parents try to do for our dogs to make their lives better. Sometimes we succeed. Other times we fail. But even when a failure comes from a space of love, it can’t be considered a real failure, just a learning experience. That’s at least what I think of these bumps in the road, especially when there was ultimately no harm done. 

Although I do have to admit, I was disappointed to learn that these at-home dog allergy tests are not accurate at all. I had such hope. But then again, I always say, that anything worth doing is never easy. So, learning about Henry’s allergies won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

With this knowledge, I will continue with his elimination diet to at least figure out his food allergies. I am hoping the winter freeze helps with the seasonal allergies. As far as any environmental allergens and irritants go, I’ll just keep my eyes on Henry and hope they decrease as well. I can always do intradermal skin testing if he should get worse, but I’m hoping for the best with his allergy symptoms.

cute bulldog pup rests while his human wonders if a dog home allergy test would help

Have you ever tried an at-home dog allergy test for your pup? Did you know they were so inaccurate? 

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About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

8 thoughts on “Is A Dog Home Allergy Test Worth The Money?”

  1. Great post and I often question the home testing. I did a DNA one on Layla and was shocked to get the results although she is still my HaShiPoo. I have not done allergy tests on Layla but she is allergic to pollen and the environment but have learnt to deal with it but since she is on her mushrooms no more allergies at all. Phew

    Reply
    • That’s a terrific point about mushrooms, Ruth! I hadn’t thought about it so much for seasonal allergies, but more for overall health. I’ll have to look into that a bit more. Thanks for that one!

      I know it’s a little tempting to do a DNA test. I just have always loved calling Henry a “cock-a-freaking-poo” and I really do love the guess. It’s part of the fun with a rescue. A DNA test could be more accurate than home allergy tests. I honestly haven’t looked at them. The most important part is to just love your furball. And I know you love your Layla. Thanks for your continued support. I really appreciate it!

      Reply
  2. We did our share of “official” allergy testing. If I were to use an at-home kit, I’d likely do it simultaneously with an “official” test to compare the results.

    I did a similar thing when I had to monitor my dog’s temperature and didn’t want to shove a rectal thermometer in her bum each time. I did multiple measurements with a digital ear thermometer and compared them with the rectal temperature.

    I learned that the highest from multiple ear measurements were likely accurate. And when it was high, I then went to confirm with the rectal approach.

    I think that at-home kits for things do have a future, but it doesn’t seem they’re there yet.

    Reply
    • That is a great idea to have a control you can test against. I use to do that a lot when I was in college. It’s a great idea and often yields surprising results. I do agree with you that as fast as technology moves that these home test kits will probably advance to a more accurate level in the future. They just aren’t there yet.

      Reply
  3. It’s so disappointing to hear that the home allergy tests are bogus! I was really hoping they could be helpful in pinpointing allergies as my newly adopted dog is very itchy. Thanks for sharing this great insight!

    Reply
    • First, congrats on your newly adopted dog! That’s wonderful news, Cathy!

      Second, I know it is disappointing. Henry is currently on a prescription diet. I’m hoping that the winter freeze will help with the seasonal allergies. However, you can talk with your vet. I’m certain he or she will have some great advice for you with your new little furry family member.

      Give your newest furry ball a pet for Henry and me!

      Reply
  4. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me dinner simply because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this subject here on your internet site.

    Reply
    • I certainly hope you had a great meal with a yummy dessert!!!! Maybe dessert first ;). I have to say I was a bit shocked to find that dog home allergy tests aren’t what they are cracked up to be either. Thank goodness my vet was so kind when I told him about the test I did for Henry. Let me know if I can help settle any more dog issues.

      Reply

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