How can a veterinary dermatologist help my pet?
In recent years, veterinary offices have begun to see more claims submitted by pet owners regarding diseases related to skin and ears. When these cases become severe or chronic, it is suggested that they seek the care of a veterinary dermatologist: a veterinarian specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of skin and ear disease in animals.
Working for veterinary dermatologists, I have always been intrigued by the “art” of a science. I understood that there could be many paths to a solution, but I learned later that how that journey is taken is where the art of the profession is applied, and in veterinary dermatology, that is very much the case.
Allergies are often the cause of skin ailments and ear infection. Did you know that nearly every veterinarian can submit a blood allergy test for your pet? A number of pet owners have undergone allergy testing through a laboratory and received the results of the test. Then, based upon those results, a course of treatment is administered following a template. When there is little or no change in the pet’s condition, the owner declares, “I’ve tried allergy testing and it didn’t work for my pet.”
It is true that for intradermal allergy injections, the success rate for dogs and cats is not 100 percent, but this is where the art is applied. The veterinary dermatologist can look at other medications and treatments using extensive experience to help find the key to alleviate the pet’s discomfort.
Like snowflakes, each pet is unique. In veterinary dermatology, that uniqueness is often taken into consideration when approaching diagnosis and treatment, although some owners are inclined to believe that treatment of a disease is like fixing a mechanical object or treating any other known condition. “You have an infection? Take an antibiotic.”
However, even in my example of antibiotics for infection, there are a wide variety of antibiotics from which to select and there is the possibility that the infection is resistant to certain antibiotics.
I received a letter from a gentleman whose dog was diagnosed with pemphigus foliaceus (PF). If you have seen pictures of patients with this disease, it is a sad and debilitating condition. He wanted to know exactly what medication was used so that he could treat his dog, otherwise he was going to euthanize him.
The medication used for PF is widely available and can be obtained from most veterinarians, but it is the dosage, the monitoring and follow-up that is critical in bringing resolution to the condition. Without meticulous oversight, treatment could result in added medical complications or even death.
There are many more examples of how veterinary dermatologists apply their specialized skills to discover and recognize the subtle differences of skin diseases, and their knowledgeable approach and application to recovery is the art that creates the picture of a healthier pet.