Treating dermatological problems in dogs and cats is one of our key areas of specialisation. At West Coast Veterinary Clinic we believe in getting to the cause of the problem, not just giving an injection for "the itch". We have the expertise and the equipment to do most laboratory tests needed for skin problems in the clinic. A digital photographic record of all of our skin cases is part of our investigation protocol. This enables us to accurately monitor progress. We will only prescribe treatment that we are confident is the most appropriate one for your animal. We understand that chronic skin problems can be irritating, frustrating and costly to the owner as well as affecting the quality of the life of their pet. If your pet suffers from a chronic skin problem, consider asking Zoran to do a full case work up and receive a written "plan of action".
Dermatological diagnostics tests that we might need to do :
- skin scraping; Skin scraping is one of the most common dermatologic diagnostic tests. This relatively simple and quick test can identify many types of parasitic infections. Although not always diagnostic, the relative ease and low cost makes it an essential test in a dermatological minimum data base.
- cytological preparation; Cutaneous cytology is the second most frequently employed dermatological diagnostic technique. Its purpose is to identify bacteria or fungal organisms (yeast), the infiltrating cell types, neoplastic cells, or acantholytic cells (typical of pemphigus complex).
- acetate tape preparation; Tape preps are used to evaluate a variety of different conditions.
- Ear swab; Otic swabs are useful to determine if a normal appearing ear canal actually has exudates deep in the ear. They are used to identify the presence of parasitic, fungal or bacterial organisms in the external ear canal.
- trichogram; A trichogram is used to visualize the hair for evidence of pruritus, fungal infection, pigmentation defects, and growth phase.
- Woods lamp examination; A Woods lamp is a special UV light source that uses a wave length of 340-450mm (UV A spectrum that does not hurt the skin or eyes). This unique combination causes tryptophan metabolites produced by some strains of Microsporum canis to fluoresce a bright apple green color. Unfortunately, not all Microsporum strains will produce the cell product making the Woods lamp useful in only approximately 50% of Microsporum canis infections. This technique is not able to identify Trichophyton species or Microsporum gypseum.
- cultures; There are several different types of culture procedures. They are used to identify specific microbial pathogens.
DTM fungal cultures are used to isolate and identify dermatophyte organisms. Dermatophyte test media is made with special ingredients that inhibit bacterial growth and turn red when dermatophytes grow.
Bacterial and fungal cultures are an important part of dermatology diagnostics. Any deep cellulitis-like lesions, especially with draining tracts, should be cultured for bacterial and fungal organisms. Nodules and tumors should be cultured if infectious etiologies are on diferential diagnostic list.
biopsies; Cutaneous biopsy has the potential to provide the most information in the shortest period of time. Even if cutaneous histopathology can not identify the exact etiology, the pathologist should be able to classify the cutaneous changes into 1 of 6 general categories: neoplasia, infection, immune-mediated, endocrine-like, keratinization defects, allergies.
- diascopy; This simple test is useful to differentiate vasodilatation from ecchymosis.
- food allergy; The only accurate method of diagnosing adverse reactions to foods is to place the patient on a restricted diet of a single novel or hydrolyzed protein and a single (preferably novel) carbohydrate for a minimum of 8-10 weeks.
- allergy testing; Allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) is recommended by veterinary dermatologists for the long term management of atopic dermatitis and other diseases associated with reactions to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dusts, danderâ€™s, and mites. ASIT is biologic, and the only therapy that truly modifies the disease process. Side effects are minimal for the vast majority of patients and there are no long-term side effects.
It is important to understand that the allergy test is not used to make the diagnosis of atopic dermatitis; it is used to select allergens for immunotherapy. A careful work up needs to be done BEFORE the allergy test to rule out other causes of pruritus.
- blood tests; some skin problems are caused by underlying endocrinology problems that need to be diagnosed with blood test (hypothyroidism, Cushing disease etc)
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