vet dermotology

Skin, Allergy and Ear Care for Animals

Does your pet constantly lick, chew, bite, scratch or shake his head?
Is there a bit of dandruff or hair loss?
Has the color of their coat changed? Texture?
Is there an odor coming from the pet's skin or ears?

Doctor Zwilling has a special interest in Skin, Allergy and Ear Care for Animals. Animal Medical Center treats skin diseases associated with bacterial infections, fungal infection, parasitic skin diseases, viral conditions, hypersensitivities, autoimmune/immune mediated skin diseases, endocrine diseases, alopecia, and genetic skin disorders. These conditions often affect the skin, the nails and ears. Some issues and services provided are:

  • Parasitic Diseases - demodex, cheyletiella, scabies, fleas
  • Alopecia - the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows
  • Pododermatitis - bacterial or yeast infections in the paws
  • Keratinization Defects - defects that alter the skin surface appearance: seborrhea or ichthyosis
  • Endocrine and Metabolic Skin Disease - cushings, adrenal sex hormones diseases, hypothyroidism

The most common dermatology services provided by Animal Medical Center involve the diagnosis and management of allergies and recurrent ear infections. However, a variety of other diagnostic services are also performed.

Diagnosis and Management of Allergic Skin Disorders

Allergies are a common cause of skin and ear problems in dogs and cats. Allergies can make a pet very itchy and uncomfortable. Typically a pet will scratch when it feels itchy; however, other signs of itchiness are chewing, licking (especially of the paws), rubbing, scooting and over-grooming (as seen in cats). Allergies can also cause recurrent skin infections and recurrent ear infections.

Diagnosis and Management of Recurrent Ear Infections

Recurrent ear infections occur commonly in dogs, but are uncommon in cats. Ear infections can cause significant pain and discomfort to a pet. Ear infections should be addressed promptly before chronic changes in the ear canal develop, so as to avoid surgical intervention in the future

Diagnosis and Management / Treatment of Other Conditions

In addition to allergic conditions and recurrent ear infections,Animal Medical Center also diagnoses and manages other skin disorders, including:

  • Infections affecting the skin, paws and nails
  • Parasitic infections like mange (mites)
  • Endocrine/hormonal disorders
  • Immune mediated (autoimmune) conditions
  • Keratinization disorders
  • Congenital/hereditary disorders
  • Some neoplastic (cancer) conditions
  • Idiopathic/unknown causes

Additional Diagnostic Services

Skin Cytology is the best diagnostic test to assess infection on your pet's skin; various methods are used, ranging from tape sampling of the skin to swabbing of the skin. The sample is then examined under a microscope.

Skin Biopsies involve taking a small sample of your pet's skin under local or general anesthesia. The skin sample is then sent to a dermatopathologist (a pathologist that specializes in skin conditions) for review. Biopsies may be necessary for various types of conditions, such as auto-immune disorders, to allow for definitive diagnosis.

Skin / Ear Cultures involves taking a sterile swab of your pet's skin lesion or taking sterile biopsy samples of the skin and submitting it to a microbiology lab to assess what infection (bacterial and/or fungal) may be causing your pet's skin problem. Ear cultures involve taking a sterile sample of the discharge on your pet's ear and submitting it for bacterial culture.

Various Bloodwork Analyses> to assess for systemic / internal conditions or hormonal problems that may be causing your pet's skin condition.

DTM (Dermatophyte Test Medium) involves taking hair samples and placing them in a special medium for culture. This test can take several weeks to obtain results and it is useful in the diagnosis of dermatophytosis (ringworm infection).