Allergic reactions to food make up about 5 percent of total allergy cases in small animal medicine.
Current blood tests for food allergies in pets have not proven to be trustworthy, so pinpointing the offending substances can be difficult.
Diagnosis often revolves around what is called an elimination diet: feeding only specialized food to which the body should not react. The foods for this purpose are expensive, and trials can last for several weeks until symptoms of the allergy are alleviated.
Food intolerance, on the other hand, is often co-related to allergies in terms of how it's pinpointed or diagnosed. It's far more common than allergic reactions and is thought to be one of the primary reasons household pets have chronic itchiness, irritation, rashes and other symptoms.
Test is widely available, affordable and reliable
A new testing protocol has been developed to detect IgE antibodies, which appear in both allergic and intolerant animals when having a reaction. Veterinarians now know the precise antibodies that react to various foods, giving them the capability to take a saliva sample and determine the allergen in the pet.
This testing is based on similar work being done to find diagnosis tools for humans with food allergies. The test is available at most veterinary hospitals and is considered far more reliable and lower in cost than traditional methods of diagnosis for animals.