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What to Expect From Intradermal Skin Testing

What should you expect if you're referred to a veterinary dermatologist for intradermal skin allergy testing? Our Vancouver veterinarians explain some things you can expect during a consultation in this post.


When your pet comes for its initial consultation, you will first meet one of our technicians from our dermatology department. The technician will record your pet’s medical history and gather any other pertinent information for the doctor. Questions that you may be asked are:

  • How long has your pet suffered from allergies?
  • What medications is your pet currently taking?
  • Has your pet been off of steroids and antihistamines for at least two weeks? (required for intradermal skin testing to be accurate)

After your technician has collected all of the necessary information, the dermatologist will enter the exam room and consult with you. If intradermal skin testing is deemed necessary, it can usually be done on the same day.

Intradermal Skin Testing

Intradermal skin testing is used to determine which environmental allergies (weeds, trees, molds, fleas, etc.) your pet may have. (Please keep in mind that there is no reliable way to test for food allergies.) During the test, 60 different allergens are injected beneath the skin's subcutaneous layer. A welt/hive will form if there is a reaction. The dermatologist will rate the reaction from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best.

Once you have permitted for your pet to be allergy tested, you are welcome to wait in our lobby or to leave to run an errand or get something to eat. Whichever option you select, we usually advise owners to allow at least an hour for testing.

Because the series of injections can be painful, your pet will be given a mild sedative to help alleviate any anxiety and keep them from moving during the test. This is accomplished through an injection and can be reversed before your pet departs.

Following the completion of the skin testing by our dermatologist, an allergy serum will be created based on the results. Each serum is tailored to the specific needs of the patient. No two patients will have the same allergy serum. Our allergen extracts are obtained from the same reputable companies that obtain most human extracts.

My Pet Has Been Diagnosed With Allergies – Now What?

During your discharge appointment, you will be provided with an allergy workbook. This will provide a step-by-step guide on administering injections, frequently asked questions, and more. The dermatology technician will do an injection demo with you so that you feel comfortable giving your pet their allergy injections at home. You will be instructed on when to give, how to give, and any reactions that you should watch out for.

Your pet’s serum will be made here in our office, and their injections can be started the same day. Similar to immunotherapy in people, there is a build-up phase required until the full, most effective dose is achieved. It takes one month to get to the build-up dose for dogs and six weeks for cats.

The great thing about allergy immunotherapy is that the serum your pet will receive is not a drug! It is simply an allergen extract that helps the body change its immune response to the allergens themselves. While many drugs that are approved to help with allergies have the potential of side effects, immunotherapy is the safest, long-term option in the management of allergies.

Contact our Vancouver veterinary hospital to learn more about the dermatology services we offer.

We Welcome New Patients

Columbia River Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients by referral and for emergency services. Our experienced emergency vets  and specialists are passionate about the health of Vancouver companion animals. Ask your vet today about a referral.

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Contact (360) 694-3007