Dog Allergy Testing: Best At-Home Test (2024)

If your dog has allergies it can be hard to watch them suffer. I’m sure you’ve tried all kinds of things to help them. Signs of allergies can include itchiness, upset stomach, diarrhea and inflammation. You can spend a long time and a lot of money doing trial and error to figure out what your dog has an allergic reaction to.

The best way to get the root of your dog’s allergies is to do allergy testing or intolerance testing.

Your vet can take a blood sample and run tests. Or they can do intradermal testing similar to a skin prick test for humans. But an easier first step is at-home testing with a hair sample from your pet.

I recently did a food and environmental intolerance test using a hair sample from my dog Lucy.

Although Lucy doesn’t have extreme symptoms like red, itchy skin, she does have various issues related to inflammation. I hoped the allergy test results would give me some ideas on food and things that she has an intolerance to. If I can remove those allergens things from her world, I can improve her quality of life!

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products and services that I’ve actually used and tested out myself in life with my dogs. If you order through my links you might get a discount and I might earn a small commission. I appreciate any orders or shares of my content. Thank you!

lucy dog food intolerances

The Best Allergy Test for Dogs

The test that I used for my dog Lucy is the 5Strands Food and Environmental Intolerance test. This test requires a small hair sample that gets mailed in and results are processed within a week. It tests for food allergies and environmental things that can also cause skin or respiratory allergies.

When I got the results in my email and opened the report I was so impressed with how many common food and environmental allergens are included! There are over 375 things that they test for!

5Strands makes other pet tests including one that only tests for food intolerances and a comprehensive health test that includes food, environmental, vitamin and mineral absorption, and a pet vitamins and minerals test.

The Pet Food & Environmental Intolerance Test that I used cost $148.

I believe this is a great value, especially when compared to DNA tests like the breed identification ones with a similar price point that doesn’t provide as much detailed information. In my opinion, this intolerance test will provide you with more useful information than knowing your dog’s breed mix.

>> Save 10% on your test with my promocode! Just enter torimistick at checkout. 

The goal of dog allergy testing is to help you come up with a plan of what you can eliminate from your dog’s diet and their environment to help them feel better. You might discover that with an elimination plan you’re able to take them off expensive allergy medication.

Or you might find that their constant stomach issues can be solved with a simple food switch.

Since this test is so easy to do from home and provides you with so much information, I think it’s the best allergy test for dogs who are experiencing some discomfort from food or environmental allergens.

What Are Signs of My Dog Having an Allergic Reaction?

Speaking of upset stomachs… how do you know if your dog is having an allergic reaction to something? What signs of allergies should you look out for?

Some common allergy symptoms include hair loss, a swollen face, welts, constant scratching and itchy skin, skin infections or rashes.

An allergic reaction is caused by something that is irritating your dog’s body and causing an immune system response. Some dogs get seasonal allergies caused by pollen, grass or mold. This can lead to itchy and watery eyes or inflammation on their paw pads or biting and licking their paws.

But according to Pet Nutritionist Tazz Latifi there’s a huge difference between allergies and food intolerances.

“People often say, ‘my cat’s allergic to chicken.’ And I ask if it’s a true allergy. Does their pet have an immediate reaction, does their face gets swollen, or do they get welts? Usually, they respond, ‘Well, no. My pet gets diarrhea once in a while.’ So that’s not an allergy, that’s a food intolerance.”

Tazz continues, “For some pets, food intolerances cause the body to become inflamed and have poor digestibility. The reactions can be chronic itching or yeast buildup. With others, it can be loose or inconsistent stools.”

biting and licking paws

Sometimes it’s not so easy to know what’s causing your dog’s allergic reaction. Tazz also told me about a dog who was constantly sneezing and nobody could figure it out.

“I had a client whose dog was an absolute mess and nobody could figure out what was going on. This dog would sneeze 20 times a day, and the vets couldn’t figure it out. Turns out, the dog was intolerant to wool. All the rugs in their home were wool! When the pet owner pulled them up, the dog was fine. Literally, that stopped the sneezing.”

It’s amazing how an allergy or intolerance test can get to the root of an allergic response like that.

Imagine how much time and money that pet parents could have saved on vet visits, medications and more if she’d done the testing sooner and learned about the environmental allergens.

My dog Lucy has more subtle signs of inflammation that can be linked to an intolerance. She has arthritis, a bunch of benign lumps like lipomas and she’s also prone to skin issues like hot spots. Those are all related to inflammation. Doing an intolerance test has helped me realize what foods and environmental elements agree with her and which do not.

Types of Dog Allergy Tests and Intolerance Tests

Pet owners have a lot of options when it comes to allergy and intolerance tests for their pups. Some tests will require a visit to your regular vet’s office, some might take you to a specialist.

I think a good place to start is with an at-home test. It’s going to be the most affordable option and if it gives you the answers you need, then great! If you need further help, you’ll have a lot of great information about potential allergens to share with your veterinarian.

What’s the difference between an allergy and an intolerance? Intolerances can cause discomfort and distress. Allergies are more severe and can even be life-threatening. It’s important that you discuss any symptoms your dog is experiencing with your veterinarian so you can take the right steps to help them.

Types of Allergy and Intolerance Tests:

  • Blood Test (RAST) for severe allergies
  • Intradermal skin testing for severe allergies
  • Saliva or Hair sample test for intolerances

If your dog is having a true allergy, you’ll want to look into blood testing or intradermal skin testing. These allergy tests are the gold standard for true allergic reactions and will need to be done by a veterinarian.

In the case of intradermal skin testing, you will probably need a referral to a veterinary dermatologist. Both of these types of tests can help determine the specific allergens that your dog is having a reaction to.

Your vet will probably conduct other tests and exams to look for health problems before getting to the point of doing a blood test (also called a RAST test) or referring you to a dermatological specialist. An intradermal allergy testing test might require anesthesia, so it’s a serious decision to do that kind of test with your pet.

better vet allergy tests

If you think your pet has an intolerance rather than a serious allergy and want to try something that’s less invasive and can be done from home, there are other options that still give accurate results. 

You can do saliva tests or a hair sample test. Scientifically, as far as I can tell a hair sample doesn’t test for allergies, but for intolerances. This is Dr. Dog Mom speaking… please check with your vet if you’re unsure of what test is right for you and to make a treatment plan based on the results.

Here’s how a hair sample test works. For the 5Strands Test you’ll need to pluck out 10-20 strands of your dog’s hair from the root. I was a little nervous to do this on Lucy because I thought it would hurt her. But once I did it, she was totally unphased and didn’t mind it at all.

You mail your sample to the laboratory where they measure the “bioresonance” of the sample and determine what foods or environmental elements your pet is in alignment with and which one’s they are not.

It’s very interesting how hair sample testing works! It reminds me of t some of the energetic concepts from traditional Chinese medicine. Here’s the description from the 5Strands site: 

“Bioresonance works by scanning a hair sample to create a profile of the energies that radiate from a person or pet. This is called their energetic blueprint or profile. With this created profile, it can now be compared to all of the energetic profiles of all of the other items we test for.”

“If the created profile from the hair sample does not harmonize with the items tested, the energy is distorted and the intolerance or imbalance is detected. The stronger the distortion, the higher the intolerance or imbalance.”

>> Save 10% on your test with my promocode! Just enter “torimistick” at checkout. 

What You’ll Learn from an Intolerance Test for your Dog

An intolerance test is a great starting point for pet parents to make changes to their furry family member’s lifestyle and diet. When you get your test results you’ll know what foods or environmental elements are not harmonious with your dog.

I’m not sure about other at-home dog allergy tests, but the results I got back from 5Strands categorizes all of the 350+ items on a 4-point scale from Level 0 Gray (meaning they’re totally in alignment with your pet) to Level 3 Red (meaning a severe intolerance that can cause noticeable symptoms).

5Strands pet food intolerance allergy test

Food and Environmental Intolerance Rating Scale:

  • Level 0 Gray: Insignificant response, meaning that these things are in harmony with your pet. Safe to keep!
  • Level 1 Green: Mild intolerances
  • Level 2 Yellow: Moderate intolerances. Try to avoid these things
  • Level 3 Red: Severe intolerances that likely cause physical reactions and noticeable symptoms. It’s recommended to avoid these things for at least 60 days and see if symptoms improve.

Since I did this test with my dog Lucy hoping to get some clues about what is causing inflammation in her body, I immediately looked at the food report and started to read which protein sources are in agreement with her and which are not.

I was surprised to find out that one of her best proteins is chicken! I hear so many people talking about their dog being allergic to chicken that I had been actively avoiding dog treats and food with chicken. Meanwhile… it’s one of the most harmonious proteins for Lucy!

Another intolerance I was very surprised about in this report is that Lucy was a Level 3 Red for hemp. I had been giving her CBD oil for years and couldn’t tell if it was working. In fact, I had a CBD salve I was rubbing on some skin tags that popped up on Lucy and my other dog Burt.

The salve actually shrunk the bump on my dog Burt but made no difference on Lucy. It turns out, she has a serious intolerance for hemp (what CBD comes from).

Not only can I eliminate help from her diet now, but I’ll also save about $70 per month when I stop buying CBD oil. At $148 for the test, that means this intolerance test easily pays for itself in 2 months!

Create an Elimination Diet Based On Your Dog’s Test Results

Once you get your test results and see what foods or environmental elements your dog ranks for a Level 3, 2 and 1, you can start to come up with an elimination diet or a plan to remove some elements from your dog’s environment.

I found it really helpful to work with a canine nutritionist for this. Through 5Strands, dog owners can book a consultation with Pet Nutritionist Tazz Latifi. We had a phone call that went way over the time allotted and Tazz generously went into so much detail and provided me with such great information!

To address food allergies, or in this case food intolerances, you want to come up with an elimination diet. Tazz can help you make a plan for that! For Lucy, we switched over to chicken-based food – eliminating beef, pork and rabbit because she’s a level 3 for some form of all of those.

Food Allergies 5Strands Test

I choose to keep Lucy on half kibble and half raw food mixed in. For the kibble, now I buy a limited ingredient diet kibble so there are fewer ingredients that might come up as Level 2 or 3 for her intolerances.

With this elimination plan, you will want to implement it for a few months and see how your dog does. For Lucy, we’re going to alternate between a chicken diet and a lamb diet, switching them every few three or four weeks.

Tazz also helped me change out some of Lucy’s supplements so that she wasn’t getting as many oil-based foods that can be less digestible for a dog of her age.

The goal of this whole plan is to feed Lucy foods that are easy for her body to digest, and that agree with her so her body doesn’t have to work so hard.

Let’s talk environmental factors that cause reactions

I chose to do the 5Strands test that looks for food and environmental intolerances. The environmental stuff can give you pointers for what might be causing another discomfort for your dog.

There’s the story I included earlier about the dog who had an intolerance for wool and all the rugs in their house were making him sick!

For Lucy, one of her Level 3 intolerances is polyester. It occurred to me that all other dog beds have polyester covers or blankets made of polyester. To do an elimination plan for this, Tazz recommended putting a cotton beach towel over Lucy’s beds to help. 

Create a Dog Friendly Backyard Space You'll Love

See, we don’t have to make it super complicated and get all new things. Simply putting down a cotton towel can make a difference.

I highly recommend you do the 5Strands test with your pets to see what other common environmental triggers come up for them. You might be able to make some changes that create a significant improvement in your pet’s life!

In my opinion, this is the best allergy test for dogs because it’s easy, affordable and accurate. Of course, by now you know that it’s really an intolerance test and why that’s important!

>> Save 10% on your test with my promocode! Just enter “torimistick” at checkout. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Dog Intolerance Testing

What is the difference between allergies and food intolerances in dogs?

Answer: Allergies in dogs typically involve a severe immune response with symptoms like swelling and welts, while food intolerances usually cause less severe reactions like chronic itching, poor digestibility, or inconsistent poops.

How does the 5Strands Food and Environmental Intolerance Test work?

Answer: The 5Strands test uses a small hair sample from your dog, which is sent to a laboratory. The test measures the bioresonance of the hair sample to determine the dog’s alignment with various foods and environmental elements, identifying intolerances that you may want to eliminate for them.

What can pet parents learn from an intolerance test for their dog?

Answer: An intolerance test categorizes various items on a scale from Level 0 (insignificant response) to Level 3 (severe intolerance). This helps pet parents identify what foods or environmental elements are not in alignment with their dog and may need to be eliminated to reduce reactions like itching, runny poops, red eyes, etc.

How can an elimination diet help dogs with food intolerances?

Answer: An elimination diet involves removing foods that show higher intolerance levels in the test. It’s designed to reduce discomfort and improve the dog’s overall health by avoiding items that cause physical reactions or symptoms. When you cut their diet back to the bare number of ingredients, then you can slowly add things back in and see what’s causing a reaction.

Did you enjoy this post? Check out more posts to learn about your pet’s health:
Best All-Natural Chews for Aggressive Chewers
Healthy Kong Stuffing Recipes
The 7 Categories of Canine Enrichment 
DIY Pill Pocket for Dogs Recipe

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best allergy test for dogs

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products and services that I’ve actually used and tested out myself in life with my dogs. If you order through my links you might get a discount and I might earn a small commission. I appreciate any orders or shares of my content. Thank you!



  1. Chichi

    This is one of the most useful posts I have ever read! Thank you Tori! My dog Roxy suffers with intolerances and we have even been to a vet and it has been inconclusive. I know we could get an answer by paying a lot more money but we don’t want to do that if we can avoid it. An intolerance test is a great idea! Thanks again!

    • Tori

      Thank you for reading Chichi! I think it can be so hard to gen answers and get to the root of the cause of reactions. Especially be cause all the reactions can be so different! I was really impressed by this test and learned so much about the differences between intolerances and allergies for this post. I hope Roxy can find some relief!

  2. Brandy (Grumble Farm)

    Wholey shit, Tori – you really outdid yourself on this one! What a comprehensive and information-packed blog pos – absolutely loved it!!!

    • Tori

      Thank you SO much Brandy! This is why it takes me a while to write all my posts, I want to make sure to answer any question I can think of. Thank you for reading this one!

  3. Lulu

    This is super helpful as this was the first year I had to take my German Shepherd in for an evaluation as she was biting and chewing on some hot spots on her skin. It was so hard to watch as she was so miserable and she needed to wear a cone to protect herself from biting. I truly appreciate this info and research you provided.

    • Tori

      Lulu, I’m so happy to be able to help! I hope that the 5Strands test can help you and your veterinarian figure out what’s bothering your sweet pup. I learned so much doing the test and researching with the pet nutritionist. Good luck!!

  4. Angela Booker

    My German Shepard suffers sore ears, scabbing on his belly, which has a yeast small he scratches and chews these spots. Vet said it’s grass allergies but has never done any tests, he’s been on Apquel steroids but nothing seems to help he is raw fed.

    • Tori Mistick

      You might want to try this. It could be grass. It could also be the main protein in the raw diet. Or fragrances in laundry detergent. It’s so hard to know! It sounds like you’ve tried a lot of solutions, maybe a test like this would help get some more answers.


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Tori Mistick is a blogger, podcaster and certified Canine Enrichment Specialist. You might call her a professional dog mom! Tori has a soft spot for senior dogs and loves the color pink. Based in Pittsburgh, PA.


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