A veterinary dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of benign and malignant disorders of the ears, skin, mouth, hair, and nails. A veterinary dermatologist has also had significant training in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic disorders in pets.
While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many routine skin ailments, certain diseases and injuries require the care of a doctor who has had specialized training in veterinary dermatology in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet.
While your general practitioner veterinarian can handle many aspects of your pet's care, just as in human medicine, sometimes there is a need for the attention of a specialist. If your pet has a complicated or difficult problem, your pet may need the care of a veterinary dermatologist. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet for more specialized diagnostic work or treatment is one that is caring and committed to ensuring your pet receives the highest standard of medical care for his or her problem.
While in some cases, your veterinarian may be able to simply consult with a specialist in veterinary dermatology about your pet's care, in other cases it is necessary to actually refer you and your pet to the specialist for more advanced diagnostics and treatment.
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 general practitioner veterinarian. Certain skin problems, however, can be difficult to diagnose and treat and the help of a specialist may be required. These include skin problems associated with allergies, parasite infestations, infectious, autoimmune, and endocrinologic (hormonal) diseases, chronic or recurrent ear infections, diseases of the feet, footpad, or nails, and skin cancers.
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 cured or made much more manageable with the help of a specialist.
The following general conditions are among those that frequently require the assistance of a veterinary dermatologist:
Most of the allergic disease that occurs in dogs and cats affects the skin. These allergies include reactions to food items (food allergy), air borne and contact substances (atopic dermatitis), and fleas (flea allergy dermatitis). Allergies can be difficult to diagnose and treat and are the kinds of cases where involving a specialist early can not only help diagnose and resolve the problem earlier but also potentially save the pet owner money in the long run.
Your veterinary dermatologist will work together with your veterinarian as part of your pet's total veterinary health care team. Your general practitioner veterinarian will still oversee all aspects of your pet's care, but with the added, specialized input of a veterinary dermatologist.
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.
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American College of Veterinary Dermatology Website