Welcome to VCA Aurora's Dermatology Department!
Skin problems are some of the most common reasons owners bring their pet to the veterinarian. Most routine skin problems can be handled by your primary care veterinarian. However, certain skin problems can be challenging to diagnose and treat, and the help of a specialist may be required. Dr. Matousek and Dr. Simpson's primary focus is to improve your pet's quality of life by providing effective treatment and supportive services.
While it is important to realize that your pet's skin problems, especially those that have been developing over a period of time, often aren't solvable overnight, most can be made much more manageable with the help of a specialist.
Services provided by our Board Certified Dermatologists:
• Diagnosis & Management of Skin & Ear Infections
• Complete Management of Environmental Allergies, Food Allergies, & Flea Allergy Dermatitis
• Intradermal & Serum Allergy Testing for Environmental Allergies
• Therapies for Environmental Allergies Including Allergen Specific Subcutaneous Immunotherapy & Sublingual Immunotherapy
• Diagnosis & Management of Parasitic Dermatology Disorders, Hair Loss Disorders (Alopecias), Autoimmune/Immune Mediated Skin Diseases, Fungal Infections, & Endocrine Diseases
• Otoendoscopy for the Diagnosis & Management of Ear Disease, Ear Flush Procedures, & Ear Canal Biopsies
• Skin Biopsy with Histopathology for Diagnosis of Skin Disease
Did You Know?
Dogs suffer from seasonal allergies just like people, but unlike us, they tend to scratch rather than sneeze when they are allergic to something.
Atopy (allergic inhalant dermatitis) occurs in approximately 10% to 15% of the dog population, usually starting between the ages of 1 and 3 years. Pets can even be allergic to the skin dander from other pets in the same household!
If you believe your pet is in need of a veterinary dermatologist, talk to your VCA vet or find a VCA board certified veterinary dermatologist near you.
Dermatology Welcome Letter & History Form
Please read our Welcome Letter to better understand what to expect on your first visit and how we can help you and your pet. Please complete this form prior to your appointment with Dermatology, and bring it with you to your appointment.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Download Dermatology Welcome Letter & History Form
Some skin disorders are inherited and are therefore hard to prevent. To help avoid those that are preventable, consider these tips:
Make sure you are following your veterinarian's recommendations regarding flea and tick prevention products. Many skin problems are caused by these pests.
Keep your pet's skin and haircoat clean and well-groomed using pet friendly products only.
Think twice before you put any perfumes or sprays on your pet's coat. Some sprays, lotions, perfumes and shampoos made for people can irritate pet's skin.
Prevent boredom. It's easy for bored pets to start itching or licking or engaging in other inappropriate behaviors.
Spend plenty of time with your pet daily, grooming and petting him or her and regularly and taking special note of any irritated looking areas or lumps and bumps. Be sure to have anything unusual checked by your veterinarian.
If your pet's skin problems are a result of an allergy, follow your veterinarian's instructions to minimize your pet's exposure, either by eliminating the food from your pet's diet or keeping your pet indoors when pollens and other irritants are present in high levels outside.
You can help by strictly adhering to the recommendations of your veterinary team for the scheduling of any follow up appointments and care. At every appointment, be sure to write down any important recommendations, or ask the veterinarian or a staff member to write them down for you.
Pruritus: Intense itching.
Erythema: Inflammatory redness of the skin.
Alopecia: Hair loss.
Acral lick dermatitis: Skin wounds that are caused by a dog's constant licking of the site.
Pyoderma: A bacterial skin infection.
Some pets are not allergic to food but to substances in their environment. When inhalant allergens are suspected, this type of skin problem is called atopy. Like humans, dogs and cats can be allergic to pollen, mold spores, dust, or other allergens that can appear in the outside environment or even in the house, that they breathe in or absorb through the skin. The bite of certain insects, such as mosquitoes and gnats, can also cause an allergic reaction. The symptoms are typically seasonal in nature, and tend to worsen as the pet ages. While people tend to sneeze when they are allergic, animals tend to itch. Once recognized, the symptoms generally can be controlled although not totally eliminated. Allergy testing through the use of an intradermal skin test can help determine what the pet is allergic to. Management and treatment consists of removing the allergen from the pet's environment or preventing exposure to it if possible and treating the pet with topical and systemic therapies and medications. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) can also be helpful for some atopic dogs.
Flea infestations are a common cause of itching and scratching in pets. Some pets are so allergic to fleas, that even just a bite or two will cause a severe reaction leading to itching, scratching, lesions, crusting, and hair loss. FAD is particularly difficult to diagnose in cats because of their fastidious grooming efforts: they may groom fleas and any signs of fleas completely away. In addition, because cats tend to groom themselves frequently anyway, it can be hard for owners to tell the difference between normal
and excessive grooming. If a pet has a suspected reaction to fleas, aggressive steps must be taken to eliminate fleas on the pet, in its environment, and from any other pets in the household.
Dogs and cats of any age can develop food allergies. Specifically, ingredients in some pet foods can cause an allergic reaction in sensitive dogs and cats. Symptoms can include itching, ear infections, and gastrointestinal upsets. The problems are usually related to a protein or carbohydrate in the diet. Pets with food allergies tend to itch all year long instead of seasonally. What can complicate diagnosis of a food allergy is that many of these pets also may have concurrent allergies to fleas or other allergens in their environments.
When a food allergy is suspected, the veterinary dermatologist will recommend that you put your pet on something called a 'food elimination diet' that will help determine which food item your pet is reacting to. This is a complex process that takes place over a period of several months. Your pet is first fed a hypoallergenic diet, which is a prescription diet available only through a veterinarian, until symptoms disappear. Then, your pet is 'challenged' by feeding it different special diets that can help determine which food item your pet is reacting to. Once the allergen (s) is identified, it can be eliminated from your pet's diet, hopefully ending the allergic reaction that is making your pet itch and scratch. Note: While on a food elimination diet, it is very important not to feed your pet anything other than the elimination diet and treats and medications that are expressly approved by your veterinary dermatologist.
This is really just a fancy name for an ear infection, specifically the external ear canal. If the middle or inner ear canal is infected, it's called otitis media or otitis interna. Ear infections can run the gamut from a mild infection due to a temporary situation, such as a dog getting water in its ears during a swim and developing inflammation, to a more serious, chronic infection that can be difficult to treat. Ear infections can be caused by allergies, ear mites, water in the ears, systemic disease, allergies, or any number of things. Dogs with flopped ears are also more prone to ear infections. Cats are less prone to ear canal infections than dogs but they do get them. Infected ears are usually red, sensitive to the touch, and may
exude an odorous fluid. Serious, chronic cases may require surgical correction. Severe ear infections can lead to partial deafness, imbalance, and vomiting.
Just like a human dermatologist, veterinarians interested in dermatology must seek additional, intensive training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing. In veterinary medicine, specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Dermatologists (ACVD). A veterinarian that has received this specialty status will list the initials, 'DACVD,' after his or her DVM degree. Or, the veterinarian may indicate that he or she is a 'Diplomate' of the ACVD. The word 'Diplomate' typically means the specialist has achieved the following:
Obtained a traditional veterinary degree (three or four years of college plus four years of veterinary school).
Completed at least a one-year internship in small animal medicine and at least two additional years of residency training in dermatology in a program accredited by the ACVD. This includes focused training in clinical dermatology and dermatopathology as well as study of skin diseases in a variety of species, including humans.
Completed the credentialing application process established by the ACVD, which includes publishing original research in scientific journals and submission of case reports.
Passed a rigorous, multi-day examination administered by the ACVD.
After completing and passing all of the above, the veterinarian is recognized by his or her peers as a board certified specialist in veterinary dermatology. As you can see, when your pet needs the specialized care of a veterinary dermatologist, all of the intensive training and additional education outlined above is focused on helping your pet to recover and/or enjoy the highest quality of life while living with the condition.
VCA Aurora Animal Hospital is participating in a clinical study using a new medication to treat atopic dermatitis and environmental allergies in dogs. This new medication is not a steroid or antihistamine, and is similar in action to some of our current oral anti-allergy medications. The purpose of this study is to examine two dosing regimens for the new treatment and compare those to placebo therapy. Of the enrolled dogs in this study, 2/3 will receive the study medication and 1/3 will receive placebo.
This is a fully funded study. Patient involvement is approximately one month. The study will provide cost coverage of all study related procedures and an owner incentive.
For more information please contact our Dermatology service at (630) 301-6100.