That last one just got easier. Thanks to Affordable Pet Testing, we can mail a fur sample to the company’s lab and find out what our four-footed friends can and cannot eat or be exposed to.
Dogtrotting.net was given the opportunity to try Affordable Pet Testing ($144 US) in exchange for an honest review.
Considering this is a dog publication, you’re likely thinking I tried this service on my dog (and I will). But no, I first tried Affordable Pet Testing with my cat Sally, a beautiful black rescue that arrived at my vet’s clinic three years ago as a young kitten with no fur.
That’s right. No fur. This cat was severely allergic to many things including most cat food and had an intolerance that took eight months to control. She’s now with me – healthy, happy and thriving – but must eat a special prescription diet.
Who better to test the efficiency of Affordable Pet Testing on than Sally the allergy cat?
Now a year on the market, Affordable Pet Testing based in Georgia, USA, is an easy way to find some answers about your pet’s health and intolerances without a vet visit. Simply mail 10 to 15 strands of pet hair in an envelope provided. In seven to ten days, you’ll receive a comprehensive report that includes intolerances for 300 food and environmental items.
After about 14 days (we waited longer because of email problems), Affordable Pet Test sent us the results via email. Admittedly, I mailed the original envelope from the U.S., even though we live in Canada, to avoid customs issues.
Like all customers, we got three reports: The first explains how to read the reports. The second identifies food sensitivities on a three-level scale. (The list is extensive). The third identifies potential environmental irritants your fur baby might encounter outside.
Here’s what the levels mean:
Level 3 – STOP. Don’t expose your pet to items in red on level 3. Likely, your pet’s body is rejecting them. Symptoms can be very noticeable such as swelling, rashes, or diarrhea.
Level 2 – SLOW DOWN. Like the yellow caution light, level 2 items are things your pet’s body is more aware of and sensitive too. Results are mild and can be uncomfortable such as heartburn, bloating, or joint pain.
Level 1 – PROCEED WITH CAUTION. Level 1 items are things your pet doesn’t like, and/or their body doesn’t like. These are low reactive and can be create problems such as sneezing or runny nose.
HOWEVER… According to Affordable Pet Testing, if the same food and/or environmental item appear on multiple levels, this is a red flag. Consider eliminating those items as soon as possible. My Sally, for instance, needs to stay away from lamb.
Speaking of my cat Sally, what did her test results indicate?
No lamb. Because lamb appeared on two levels, that’s one she can’t eat. Good to know because several times I’ve been recommended lamb-based food as an alternative meat source to beef and pork (neither, surprisingly, showed up on her list).
No trout, tuna or halibut. Trout is a level 3 for Sally and halibut a level 2, which was a confirmation for me. When I first fostered her years ago, the vet suggested we try a whitefish diet because she was likely reacting to poultry. (Chicken is a level 2 for her according to this test). Within a week, the result was a bald itchy tummy for poor Sally. Fun fact – the fur grew back white (not black).
Corn and lentils are also a level 3 for Sally – not what cats generally eat, but sometimes used as fillers. Neither duck nor pea is on Affordable Pet Testing’s list to avoid, and those are the primary ingredients in the food she’s successfully eating now.
Outdoors, Sally needs to stay away from pigeon dung, goldenrod, canaries (stop birding, Sally), and wasps. I’ll be hyper-vigilant about stings.
I showed the test results to the vet whose months of efforts restored Sally’s health. “It looks useful,” she said, “a lot can be determined from analyzing hair.” According to Affordable Pet Testing, “Hair stores more information for a longer period of time and is not affected by food, stress or medications like blood testing.”
I didn’t know that. Clip a sample of hair close to the skin – it seems too simple. But that’s the point, and maybe if I had access to this test several years ago when first meeting Sally, her journey to health might have been easier.
New for Affordable Pet Testing: Intolerance Testing for Horses ($189 US). A game changer for some barns. Watch for that review on www.horsetrotting.net soon.