Hair and saliva test fails to identify allergies in dogs

J Small Anim Pract. 2019 Feb;60(2):121-125. doi: 10.1111/jsap.12952. Epub 2018 Oct 29.


Objectives: Several companies offer saliva and/or hair tests for food and environmental allergies in companion animals, but provide no validation of test accuracy. We examined one such hair and saliva allergy test to determine whether it could reliably differentiate between a normal dog and an allergic dog, and to examine test repeatability.

Materials and methods: Ten fur and saliva samples were submitted from a known allergic dog and a normal, non-allergic dog. Five fake fur samples and water were also submitted to determine whether the test could differentiate between a real dog and toy animal. The company performed testing for 128 food and environmental allergens. Statistical analyses were performed to determine whether the response distribution differed significantly between dogs, using the Pearson chi-square coefficient, as well as to determine test-retest reliability by calculating Cohen's kappa for each allergen.

Results: The distribution of test results from samples obtained from allergic, non-allergic or fake dogs was not different from that expected due to random chance. Test-retest reproducibility was poor to slight.

Clinical significance: Hair and saliva testing should not be used to diagnose allergies and is not a substitute for veterinary-directed allergy evaluation and diagnostics.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens
  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases
  • Dogs
  • Hair
  • Hypersensitivity / veterinary*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Saliva / immunology*


  • Allergens