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Diagnosing Dog Allergies

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Dog Scratching It may be difficult for a veterinarian to form quick diagnoses for suspected allergies in dogs. Often the source of the allergen is detected through trial and error. The vet will first give the dog a through and systematic examination and ask the owner some detailed questions relating to the dog’s diet and lifestyle. With a good medical history a proficient veterinarian can group symptoms together to form a diagnosis.

Usually the vet will rule out the possibility of a food allergy first. If the dog is displaying both skin and gastro-intestinal symptoms it is more than likely to be suffering from a food allergy. The vet will start the dog on an elimination diet to pinpoint the suspect ingredient. Protein is the first culprit in the form of beef, lamb or chicken but preservatives, colourings and additives in some commercial dog foods can cause allergies as well.

If the vet suspects an inhalant allergy he will carry out a scratch test or an 'Intradermal' test which involves allergens being injected just under the skin. The dog is examined after 20-30 minutes. If the dog reacts to a particular allergen a swelling will appear under the skin.

In some cases the vet may take a blood sample to be sent to the laboratory for testing. The blood test will include a Radioallergosorbent (RAST) test this indicates the presence or absence of allergic antibodies in the dog. The RAST test has the disadvantage of taking longer.

Diagnosing a flea allergy is relatively easy. If fleas are present, by parting the dog’s fur behind the ears or at the base of the tail, fleas may be visible to the naked eye. If fleas are not visible their dirt will be. The vet will shake some of the fur onto a damp white tissue. Flea dirt will turn red as it is mostly comprised of digested blood.

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Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs
Dog Allergy Symptoms
Dog Food Allergies
Treating Allergies in Dogs

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