Your Pet’s Allergies: The RAST Test

You know the sound of dogs scratching at their ears. Sometimes it means allergies. This is a helpful article from Your Pet's Allergies: The...


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The RAST Test For Dogs

You know the sound of dogs scratching at their ears. Sometimes it means allergies. This is a helpful article from

Your Pet’s Allergies: The RAST Test
Well the calendar says it’s Spring – between the heavy flooding in the west, the warm, wet, almost snowless east, and all kinds of climatological mayhem in the middle of the country, I’m sure we’re all looking forward to some “normal” weather.

But what has this got to do with my pet you say? In a word – ALLERGIES!

Itching, scratching, chewing, sneezing dogs and cats everywhere. All this wet, warm weather has brought the plants out of their winter snooze weeks earlier than usual, and many of our allergic pets are starting to react.

It’s that thump, thump at two in the morning as your dog frantically tears at his ears, or that annoying slurping sound as he chews the fur off his rump that has you calling your veterinarian for the first available appointment.

While there are many different ways an allergy may manifest in your dog and many different treatments, one of the tests your veterinarian may recommend is a RAST test – (Radioallergosorbent test). A small vial of blood is drawn and submitted to a laboratory for analysis. Two primary screens are usually performed. The first is a regional test which checks for any sensitivity your dog may have to the common grasses, trees, shrubs, molds and fungi found in your part of the country. The second is a food allergy screen to determine sensitivity to some of the common ingredients in your dog’s diet.

Since the very best way of treating an allergy is to stay away from the causative agent altogether, your veterinarian will then be able to recommend certain diets free of ingredients to which your dog tested positive.

Treating allergies to inhalants like plants and house dust is a little more complex. Various medications like corticosteroids and anti histamines may be used, or your veterinarian may decide to try hyposensitization. Here the laboratory formulates a type of vaccine based on the allergy test results, and your dog is given injections over a period of time to slowly help it develop a tolerance to the offending allergens.

Some allergies will dissipate with time and treatment while others may require continued “allergy shots”. While desensitizing might not be the entire answer for your pet, you may want to consider a RAST test in addition to the other forms of treatment your veterinarian may prescribe.

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