Hair and saliva analysis fails to accurately identify atopic dogs or differentiate real and fake samples

Vet Dermatol. 2019 Jan 24. doi: 10.1111/vde.12716. Online ahead of print.


Background: The availability of direct-to-consumer medical testing for human and veterinary health conditions has increased in recent years. For allergies, several companies market proprietary hair and saliva tests directly to pet owners. These tests have not been validated and there is limited regulatory oversight for such tests in veterinary medicine.

Hypothesis/objectives: To examine the accuracy and reproducibility of a commercial direct-to-consumer hair and saliva allergen test.

Animals: Seven healthy animals (six dogs, one cat); six animals (five dogs, one cat) with atopic dermatitis; 11 samples of synthetic fur and sterile saline.

Methods and materials: Duplicate animal hair and saliva, and 11 synthetic fur and saline samples were collected (total samples 35) and submitted to the company for analysis, yielding 12,075 outcomes for statistical analysis.

Results: Positive test results were provided by the direct-to-consumer pet allergy for all submitted samples, including synthetic fur and saline. The test results for healthy and atopic animal samples were no different from each other or from synthetic fur and saline samples. Reproducibility for paired samples was not different from random chance. The results for real animals correlated strongly with results for synthetic fur and saline samples (r = 0.71, P < 0.05).

Conclusions and clinical importance: The direct-to-consumer hair and saliva test for pet allergies examined in this study performed no better than chance and the results were not reproducible.