Allergists often use blood tests to detect allergic sensitization to dogs, cats, horses and other furry animals. Now they may be able to use a special blood test to identify if patients are sensitized to molecular allergen component proteins found in furry animals and pets.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently cleared the ImmunoCAP Allergen Components Test for Furry Animals for use in diagnosing allergies and sensitivities to specific proteins found in the skin, fur and saliva of dogs, cats and horses. Doctors may be able to build treatment plans by determining the primary animal allergen causing symptoms.

The results of the blood test can also help patients and families determine pet selection and assess the development and severity of allergic asthma.

The ImmunoCAP Allergen Components Test for Furry Animals was developed by Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Allergic reactions to cats and dogs are caused by proteins found not only in the animal’s dander, but also in their saliva and urine. Pet proteins may cause mild, moderate or severe allergy or asthma symptoms of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, rhinitis, sinusitis, hives or itching. Pet allergies can also affect the eyes; symptoms include itching, burning, swelling and tearing.

While some dog and cat breeds may produce more allergen than others, there are no hypoallergenic (allergen-free) dogs or cats, since all have allergen proteins in their saliva, urine and dander. However, not all people with pet allergy develop symptoms around all dog or cat breeds.

Talk with a board-certified allergist about undergoing testing for animal allergies.