Most pet owners are unaware that scratching, licking, biting, and chewing are tell-tale signs of an underlying skin problem. While there are numerous different skin diseases that can affect pets, managing skin problems is possible.

Skin disease or irritation can cause distress. To relieve that suffering, we offer dermatological testing and treatment that can help your pet live comfortably. In trying to diagnose and treat skin disorders, your role as a pet owner is essential. Discovering what causes flare-ups and irritation will primarily be your job. Pay attention to your pet’s reaction after eating, playing outside, and interacting with other animals. During your appointment, the veterinarian will discuss your observations to determine a series of laboratory tests that will help diagnose or treat your pet’s skin issues.

Common dermatological issues for pets:

  • Chronic ear disease
  • Disease of the foot 
  • Ear infections
  • Flea allergy dermatitis(not as common in the Intermountain West)
  • Hair loss
  • Hormone disorders
  • Parasitic, bacterial, or fungal infections
  • Skin allergies caused by environment, food, or contact
  • Skin cancer
  • Autoimmune disorders

What does treatment involve?

Our veterinarian will work with you and your pet to determine a treatment plan that is manageable. Trying to find the best method of therapy is an ongoing process that may take several attempts in order to discover an effective treatment.

To help with diagnosis, we may perform the following tests to supplement our initial prognosis of your pet’s condition:

Skin scraping - This aids in helping the veterinarian determine if your pet has any external parasites such as mites that are causing itchiness or other skin wounds. They around the edges of a skin lesion and place the scrapings on a slide to be viewed under the microscope. 

Food Trial - Food trials using a prescription diet are sometimes used to determine if your pet's itchiness is due to food allergies. While fairly uncommon compared to environmental sensitivities, your veterinarian may want to try a food trial if your pet's signs are more indicative of a food allergy.  

Otoscopy – Otoscopy is used to diagnose and treat chronic ear infections and diseases. An otoscope is inserted deep into the ear canal to identify any abnormalities, tumors, or foreign bodies that might exist. If immediate treatment is needed, tools can be used to flush waxy build-up, or remove foreign objects. Our clinic does have a video otoscope that helps to visualize the ear canal better than a traditional otoscope and allows for retrieval of foreign objects such as grass seeds. 

Biopsies – A biopsy is often performed to diagnose various skin cancers and autoimmune skin disorders. A biopsy is executed by removing the affected skin or tumor, processing it, and examining the sample under a microscope. By enlarging the area, the veterinarian can usually determine the underlying issue.

Intradermal Allergy Testing – The intention of performing intradermal allergy testing is to discover exactly which allergens your pet reacts to. This test is not performed at our clinic, but can be performed at a dermatology referral center. To perform the test, a patch of hair is shaved, and a grid is drawn on the skin. Common pet allergens are injected into separate squares on the grid. The dermatologist then examines the grid after a waiting period of 20 minutes. All swollen, red injection-sites indicate a positive allergen.

Skin Cultures – If your pet exhibits a skin disorder that is resistant to all previously tested forms of treatment, a skin culture is typically used to test numerous treatments at one time. This will help determine a successful treatment to heal the affected skin without continually unsettling your pet.

Blood Tests - In some instances, your veterinarian may ask to perform blood tests to look for hormone imbalances that can cause skin and hair abnormalities. 

If you have any questions about pet dermatology or think your pet might have a skin condition, contact our office today.