If it itches, don’t scratch it…
Your pet may need to see a Veterinary Dermatologist.
A veterinary dermatologist is a veterinarian who, after completing four years of veterinary school, has completed an internship and residency program in dermatology and allergy. In order to achieve board certification, the individual must then qualify and successfully pass a rigorous examination covering all aspects of veterinary dermatology and allergy. At the present time there are approximately one hundred veterinarians who have achieved board certification by the American College of Veterinary Dermatology. Board certification is the highest level of specialization available today in clinical veterinary medicine.
Skin disease, although rarely life-threatening, is extremely frustrating to treat. In most cases your veterinarian is capable of providing safe and effective therapy for your pet’s skin disorder. However, in some cases, in an effort to provide the latest and most effective treatment modalities, your veterinarian may choose to offer a referral to a veterinary dermatologist. Your veterinarian’s decision to offer referral to a specialist indicates that they want your pet to have the best possible care available.
After each visit, a referral letter will be sent to your veterinarian detailing all clinical findings, laboratory test results, diagnoses and treatment recommendations. Close communication between Dr. Hansen and your local veterinarian is critical in maintaining the highest level of care for your pet. Dr. Hansen is a veterinary dermatologist and only treats skin disease (including ears and nails) and allergies. Therefore, your veterinarian will continue to provide comprehensive veterinary care.
If possible do not bathe your pet for 7 days prior to the examination so that we can see the full extent of the skin disease. Please do not feed your pet for 12 hours prior to the examination. Antihistamines (benadryl, hydroxyzine, chlorpheniramine, etc.) should be discontinued for 7 days prior to examination. Unless otherwise instructed please continue all other medications which have been prescribed by your veterinarian. Please let us know if your pet is receiving corticosteroids, and the severity of your pet’s itching.
The initial office visit will take 45 to 60 minutes. Dr. Hansen will review your pet’s complete history and perform a thorough dermatologic examination. After examining your pet, the Doctor will explain the nature of your pet’s problem, discuss diagnostic tests that are recommended and outline the recommended therapy.
Both intradermal skin testing and serum (blood) allergy testing are offered. Although serum allergy testing can give meaningful results, intradermal skin testing is considered to be more accurate and is the preferred method of allergy testing in dogs. However, several medications can interfere with intradermal skin testing and therefore, the patient should not have any antihistamines (amitriptyline, hydroxyzine or atarax, benadryl, chlorpheniramine) or tranquilizers (acepromazine) for at least 7 days prior to intradermal allergy testing. The effects of corticosteroids (prednisolone) on allergy testing are somewhat controversial, but it is generally accepted that steroids should be withdrawn (if possible) for 2 weeks prior to intradermal skin testing. If the patient’s level of itch makes it impossible to go 2 weeks without corticosteroids, please contact Dr. Hansen’s staff for specific instructions.
When performing an intradermal skin test, a mild sedative will generally be given for your pet’s comfort. A patch of hair (about 4 inches by 7 inches) will be clipped on the side of the chest, and a series of 70 allergens will be given by intradermal injection (very similar to a tuberculin test injection). After an incubation of 10 minutes, the allergy test can be read. Individual allergies are detected by a firm, often slightly pink, wheal in the area of the specific intradermal injection. From these results, an allergy vaccine can be made in an attempt to desensitize your pet to these allergies (if Dr. Hansen feels that an allergy vaccine is indicated).
Specialized tests and therapies, as in human medicine, may be more expensive than in general practice, but may be less costly in the long run. If you have any questions about costs, please do not hesitate to ask our receptionist. Fees are payable when the services are rendered and payment can be made with cash, check or by Master Card, Visa, Discover or American Express. We do not accept Care Credit.
The Dedication behind Veterinary Dermatology…
Our staff realizes that dermatologic conditions are chronic and extremely frustrating for pet owners. We try to do everything possible to keep your pet comfortable. We are never too busy to give you the attention and respect you deserve. Our technicians are trained to handle most routine dermatologic questions, and if they are unsure of an answer, Dr. Hansen is consulted. However, if you wish to speak directly to Dr. Hansen, please indicate this to the receptionist and Dr. Hansen will return your call.