New Saliva Tests for Food Intolerance in Animals

Vet McKinney

By Dr. Ed Mapes

Stonebridge Animal Hospital


Allergic reactions to food make up approximately 5% of total allergy cases in small animal medicine.  Exposure to proteins in food items stimulates the immune system of some animals to react abnormally, resulting in the symptoms of food allergy.

Those symptoms can include itch of the face, ears, tail region, and underside of the belly.  Many patients also develop loose stools or diarrhea, may vomit occasionally, and may have excess gas.

Current blood tests for food allergies have not proven to be trustworthy, and pinpointing the offending substances has been very difficult.  Without reliable lab testing procedures, the diagnosis often revolves around what is called an elimination diet (the process of 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.

Vets in McKinney now know that a different type of immune reaction can also cause a host of symptoms in animals. This disorder is called food intolerance or food sensitivity. Signs of food intolerance can include scratching, skin rashes, dermatitis, diarrhea or constipation, excess gas, oral ulcerations, cramping with abdominal discomfort, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Antibodies responsible for food allergy are known as IgE antibodies, and they are detectable in blood serum.  Studies have shown that food sensitivities are more accurately detected by measuring IgA or IgM antibodies in the saliva.  These antibodies can actually be identified before other testing, including intestinal biopsies, to demonstrate the problem.   Salivary testing can therefore identify sensitivities at very early stages of the disease.

A new testing protocol has been developed to detect the presence of these salivary antibodies, enabling vets in McKinney to determine precisely what foods actually cause the reactions and symptoms.  Diet recommendations can then be made to help eliminate the offending foods and gain control over the symptoms.

The procedure identifies antibodies that react to the most common allergens in food; including beef, chicken eggs, corn, barley, wheat, millet, soy, oatmeal, cow’s milk, salmon, lamb, rabbit, venison/deer, rice, chicken, quinoa, turkey, potato, whitefish, peanut/peanut butter, pork, sweet potato, duck and lentil.

This new testing is very simple, and yields more trustworthy information.  This is an invaluable new tool that allows vets in McKinney to treat animals with a wide range of symptoms.   Now we can definitively relate symptoms in our patients to food intolerance, and then take corrective measures to overcome the signs of disease.  Armed with this information, we’re able to make recommendations for foods that eliminate the offending substances at the core of the problem.

Vet McKinney
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
5913 Virginia Parkway
McKinney, Texas 75071

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