An edited transcript is provided below: 

Today, my goal is to save you some money. And that’s because you can go to pet stores and you can buy these various tests. There are genetic tests you can buy but one I’m going to focus on today is the food allergy test. You buy this kit, swab your dog’s cheek, and take some hair samples and send it in. And then magically it will come back and it will tell you what your dog is allergic to. I get people who are asking me about this, and they say, oh, I know what my dog is allergic to: They’re allergic to x, y, z, chicken, or whatever. And I’ll ask them how they know that, and it’s because they send in those samples to the lab. And these tests cost hundreds of dollars. The one locally here is 100 bucks. There’s another one online for like $250. They’re not cheap. So the question is: Why are we sending these in? Are they good or are they bogus?

There’s a great study that came out which really eloquently proved whether or not it is an effective test. What they did is this study took dogs, normal dogs. They took allergic dogs and they took cats. And they sent in samples into the lab, both the hair and saliva samples just like normal. The thing is – what they also did is they took fake animals. They took in animals that were just little stuffed animals that were bought from the store, brand new, never been into a house, and cut off some of these “fur” samples and sent those in as well along with sterile saline, saline that is just water and has nothing else in it. And sent those to the lab as well, just see what would happen. And they sent in a good number of them from various parts of the country, all over, and into the company. And lo and behold, when they got all the samples back, everything had allergies. Both the normal dogs, the allergic dogs, the cat, as well as the stuffed animals also had allergies. So it really clearly showed that even sterile saline, even these stuffed animals are getting results. And so they’re probably not trustworthy.

The thing I really like what the study did as well is then they took those same dogs and then sent in another sample on top of it to see if they would get repeatable results. When then got those results back they were totally different. So the study showed that there was no correlation with anything other than random chance. Whatever result you got, you could’ve thrown something at a dart board, picked chicken, or picked beef, whatever allergy you want, and you would have had just a good of a chance of predicting what that allergy is as this test. So don’t do it. I just saved you so much money, saved you so much heartache and headache trying to think that, “No, this test gave me a result”. But the good news is the result means absolutely nothing. So either take that 100 dollars and just burn it because it’ll be doing you just as good or come talk to us. And we can actually show you what it takes to get through these allergies because the reason why this test exists is because there’s not an easy solution for it. There isn’t any test you can do for food allergies other than these elimination diet trials. And they are time-consuming. They’re difficult. You have to make sure your dogs are really strict with what they eat, or their cat’s really strict with what they eat. So unfortunately, there’s not another good solution. But I’m here to tell you don’t spend your money on these over-the-counter tests.

And the pet store, they’re well-meaning. They’re trying to give you options as well. Everybody’s looking for options. And I don’t fault them for carrying it. But they don’t have the abilities or the resources to evaluate are these tests worthwhile? Are these tests any good? They’re just getting some marketing materials saying this is something you can do. And that’s not their job to evaluate the validity of these tests. That’s our job. And so if you have questions about that, try not to ask the pet store what you should do. Come talk to us. We’re here for that. We have availability. Come in and talk to us, and we can guide you through it. So that’s something to just keep in mind as your pet is having issues. And there’s a couple of these companies that are out there. So just avoid all of them. If you’re seeing any tests or veterinary care or healthcare or even if you’re just looking for nutrition advice, come in and talk to us because we can help dispel the myths that you’re seeing. We have a lot of other really good blog posts on pet foods and other myths that you’ll find on the Internet. And so peruse through there. But we’d love to see you and talk to you about it in detail if you do have more questions about it. I’m Dr. Brian Evans here at Coastal Animal Hospital. See you next time.