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
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:
- skin rash
- 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.
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.
- 6 Cool Ways Dog Parents Pay For Vet Bills
- Who Says You Can’t Barter Dog Services?
- How To Be Dog Expense Debt Free
- My Dog Loves Savings Accounts. Surprised?
- 15 Red Flags-Time For a New Vet!
- Easy Dog Emergency Vet Visits Tips
- Creative Ways To Cut Dog Expenses. Easy!
- How To Adopt A Foster Dog
- How to Find the Best Veterinarian
- Steps to Build a New Dog Budget
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.