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Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center

Longer. Healthier. Happier.

Allergy testing and immunotherapy

Allergy testing is expensive but usually effective

Allergies are frustrating for both dog and owner. It may be necessary to go through multiple food trials for a suspected food allergy — requiring a careful food elimination dietary plan — or medication trials to see what causes the dog to respond. These approaches are time consuming, and costs can add up very quickly.

Cornell's Companion Animal Hospital recommends starting treatment for severe allergies with allergy testing and allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT). While it may cost a few hundred dollars, allergy testing can pinpoint which allergens are problematic, helping form a targeted treatment plan.

ASIT involves a cocktail of allergens custom-made for each dog to desensitize them to specific triggers. Injections are given under the skin at regular intervals. This treatment is usually effective, but can be cost prohibitive, and some dogs do not respond well. If you’re interested, the first step is to talk with your veterinarian about the potential usefulness of this test.

This article has been reprinted with permission from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s DogWatch newsletter, published by Belvoir Media Group. When you become a member of the Riney Canine Health Center, you will receive a free subscription to DogWatch.