FAQ – Dermatology and Pet Allergy

If your dog or cat is allergic to fleas, they will work very hard to remove them. Furthermore, if your pet is sensitive to the fleas, sometimes all it takes is just a few exposures to create extended uncomfort.

Unfortunately, allergies are usually a lifelong problem. Once the underlying allergy is identified, therapeutic options will be discussed to manage the symptoms.

Antihistamines and steroids, including oral and topical therapies, should be avoided. A wash-out period of 2-3 weeks is needed prior to performing the skin test, as these medications could interfere with obtaining accurate results. Newer treatments, such as apoquel and cyto point, do not interfere with skin test results and can be used up until the day of testing.

Allergy testing on pets is no more uncomfortable than the allergy testing performed on humans. Humans describe a mildly irritating sensation through which they are instructed to remain still. Since your pet can’t be instructed to remain still during the testing, and does not understand why this is being done, a sedative/analgesic (pain relief) may be used to help reduce any potential unease and discomfort that your pet may experience.

In order to reach the skin, a patch of hair is shaved off of the chest, near the elbow. Then, small amounts of 65-70 different allergens are injected into the skin. A specific amount of time is allowed to elapse (8-15 minutes) and then the test site is evaluated. Because pets often can’t remain still like a person would during the testing, a sedative is administered to ensure a safe and efficient testing process.

Topical therapies, including ointments, creams, and shampoos, should be discontinued at least two days prior to the appointment, as they could inhibit diagnostics that need to be performed the day of the visit. Oral medications should not be discontinued prior to your visit unless specifically directed to do so. If adjustments need to be made in your pet’s protocol, we will make recommendations at the initial exam.

A complete and thorough medical history is essential to understanding your pet’s disease process. The dermatologist will perform a physical and dermatologic examination. Minor procedures, such as skin scraping (for mites), cytology (for secondary pathogens like bacteria or yeast), and cultures, are often recommended. Diagnostics and therapeutic choices will be made based on the assessment of your pet’s individual situation, and estimates will be provided for major recommended procedures, such as biopsies, video-otoscopy, and allergy testing.