Facts Regarding Allergy Testing

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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  oral allergy drops (sublingual immunotherapy) that are 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 an allergy vaccine.

What is an intradermal skin test?

Our intradermal allergy test involves giving 72 small individual injections into a small shaved patch of skin 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?

Steroid tablets such as prednisone, Temaril-P, Vetalog, or Medrol should be stopped 2 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 steroid as a gradual withdrawal period may be recommended. Steroid-containing eye and ear drops should also be stopped 7-10 days prior to the test, if possible. Atopica and antihistamines such as Benadryl, hydroxyzine, Zyrtec, and chlorpheniramine must be stopped at least 7 days prior to allergy testing.  Apoquel® and Cytopoint® are okay to continue as they will not affect test results.

Certain sedatives/tranquilizers (such as trazodone and acepromazine) can also interfere.  Gabapentin is okay.  Please check with us prior to testing. 

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 addressed andthose that are unavoidable are generally made into an allergy vaccine. With guidance most owners can learn how to give the injections easily. Our technicians will go over the technique and teach you how to give allergy shots.  Most animals adapt to receiving allergy shots readily and adverse reactions to the allergy vaccine are rare. If you would rather not give the allergy injections, you can schedule to have one of our technicians administer it in the office. 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. 

You will be provided with a prescription for needles which may be purchased online or at your local pharmacy.

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 efficacy. Oral allergy drops (also called sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT) are another option to help control allergies and we offer them as an alternative to allergy injections.  The drops are given once daily inside the lip or under the tongue based on a dosing schedule provided with the vaccine.  It is imperative that your pet not eat or drink for 10 minutes before or after administration.  

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

***Prices below are subject to change***

SLIT vs SQ Table

 Click here for a vaccine comparison handout.

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

While some pets improve within weeks, most pets require 6 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 complete control of symptoms or there may be partial control. If there is partial control, other medications may still be necessary for control of the remaining symptoms. During the first few months of the injection program many pets will require additional medications (such as an antihistamine, Atopica®, Apoquel®, Cytopoint® or low doses of a cortisone drug) until control is achieved. As the allergy injections take effect and as the symptoms subside, these medications should be gradually reduced/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 $900-1200+ which includes the first set of treatment allergens.  

Refill vials of prescription injectable allergens are $255 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 $350. There is an additional cost for syringes. The cost of the allergy vaccine may be higher for certain types of allergies.

Refills of oral allergy drops are $280 and last about 4-5 months with the standard schedule (given once 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 one of our doctors 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 pets. Strict flea control measures must be implemented for allergic pets and for other pets in the home. Food allergies are unable to be controlled with an allergy vaccine and must be avoided. Any food indiscretion (food or treat outside of the approved ingredients) may result in the return of your pets symptoms.

Locations

Office Hours

appointment hours vary - see request appointment page

Springfield - front desk hours

Monday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Leesburg - front desk hours

Monday:

Closed

Tuesday:

9:00 am-3:00 pm

Wednesday:

Closed

Thursday:

By appointment only

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed