Dottor Paolo Mascaretti Dermatologo veterinario a Torino e in Piemonte
Dottor Paolo MascarettiDermatologo veterinarioa Torino e in Piemonte

What allergy testings are for ?  What is Immunotherapy ?

Skin test

Following the diagnosis of Atopic Dermatitis (see factsheet), allergy testings are used to identify to what substances (allergens) the dog\cat is allergic, in order to choose the most effective therapy.
In particular they are essential if you want to use immunotherapy (vaccine) as a treatment.

It 's a mistake, instead, using them, as many do, to achieve the diagnosis of atopic dermatitis.

Commonly used allergens are grass and tree pollens , dust mites, molds etc.  Food  allergens are not included because results are unreliable.

Allergy testing can be done withe two techniques:

  •   Intradermal or skin-test: allergens are inoculated in skin thickness at the chest wall. After few minutes, if 

         the animal is allergic to one or more of them, an evident wheal appears.

  •   Serological test: serum specific  IgE (ie antibodies typical of allergies) are sought in blood.

The two techniques have both advantages and disadvantages to be discussed with the veterinay surgeon.
In any case it is essential, before allergy testings, to suspend the administration of some drugs (eg. Corticosteroids).

Immunotherapy or desensitization:
Immunotherapy (so-called "vaccine") is made by injecting increasing doses of allergens, ie those substances to which the animal was found to be allergic.
The aim is to gradually reduce the abnormal reactivity of the organism towards these substances.

The choice of allergens is made on the basis of:
a) the results of allergy testings
b) the clinical presentation of the animal (eg. seasonal or continuous itching)
c) the actual presence of the allergens in the environment
d) the chance of avoiding them

How is administered: injections are made subcutaneously.  It's  necessary that at least the first two-three inoculations are made at the Vet clinic.  Adverse reactions to the "vaccine" are rare; however, in the case, must be immediately reported to the Veterinarian.
The bottles should be stored in the refrigerator and should be softly shaken before use.
During desensitization it's possible, if necessary, to associate other treatments.
It should be always mantained at least for the first cycle of a few months.

Oral immunotherapy: is an innovation of the last few years.  The vaccine is "sprayed" into the mouth of the animal twice a day.  It may be a useful alternative for owners who can not do injections.

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Paolo Mascaretti, Dermatologo Veterinario a Torino