The condition of your pet’s skin and coat can be an important sign of their general health. Skin care problems in dogs and cats vary from acute, self-limiting problems to life-long problems that need management.
Causes of Skin Problems in Pets
Skin problems in pets are often difficult to diagnose and treat. They can be primary (the problem is directly related to an infection or other acute cause) or secondary (due to scratching, biting, or over grooming). There are four main categories for skin disease:
- Immune-mediated (allergies)
- Physical and environmental (hot spots, lick granulomas)
- Flea and other parasites
Services & Products Provided
Many diagnostic tests and treatments required to manage skin diseases are offered here at Veazie Veterinary Clinic. These enable us to decide the best course of skin care for your pert. Below are a few of the diagnostic tests we provide.
For those patients who show minimal or no response to conventional therapy, “allergy shots” may be of benefit. The testing is a simple blood draw sent to an outside lab.
The lab tests determine your dog’s allergies. The lab can then design a serum that is injected to desensitize your pet. Unfortunately, this test is unreliable in kitties.
Ear and Skin Cytologies (Ear and Skin Infections)
Ear and skin cytology are methods of diagnosing ear and skin infections. We also conduct cytologies to rule out infection before treating allergies. Cytology simply means the study of cells. We examine the samples collected from ear swabs and skin scrapings for evidence of bacteria, yeast and mites through a microscope.
A skin scraping is a useful diagnostic tool for skin infections. It may be performed on dogs and cats that come in with red & irritated skin, scabs, or scaly, itchy skin. A small scalpel blade will be lightly scratched across the surface of the skin to remove a superficial skin layer that may harbor bacteria, yeast or parasites. This is then transferred onto a slide and read in our lab.
Tape prep is a diagnostic tool used to look for an overgrowth of yeast on your pet’s skin. If your pet is excessively itching, the skin is red, irritated or waxy, they may have a yeast infection. To do a tape prep we simply apply a piece of clear adhesive tape to the skin of the animal and peel it off. We then stain it for microscopic evaluation.
For pets with persistent skin infections or suspicious growths, skin biopsies are the next logical step. A punch biopsy can be taken with minimal discomfort from a sedated pet. It leaves a small 1 cm cut and is minimally invasive.
We often send the samples to an outside lab that specializes in determining the specific species of pathogen causing the infection. In the case of suspect malignant growths, diagnostic labs can inform us of the specific cell type and whether or not it is benign.
Shampoo and Topical Medication
We have a full range of topical medication and special skin care shampoos at our clinic. We use these in conjunction with other medications to help relieve the itchiness and discomfort associated with many skin problems.
These medicated shampoos are also often helpful in knocking down overgrowth of natural bacteria and yeast and repairing the damaged skin.