Dermatology



Dogs and cats, like humans, commonly experience skin disorders. In fact, there are hundreds of different skin disorders recognized in pets. Because the signs often appear the same - itchy skin and digestive problems are common - accurately determining the cause and the appropriate treatment requires specialized testing and in-depth diagnostic expertise.

At NorthStar VETS, our Dermatology Department provides a variety of diagnostic tests that can help determine the cause of your pet's skin disorder. And our veterinarians are specially trained to recognize, diagnose and treat skin diseases - so your pet can go back to living its life symptom-free.

The Services We Provide

Our goal is always to identify the clinical problems, understand the underlying pathologic process and to find the best way to keep your pet comfortable and as free of skin problems as possible. In order to do this, we have you fill out a questionnaire before we see your pet, to identify the problem, get an idea of how long the problem has been ongoing, and how it has affected your pet. Also, we will examine your pet's records from your family veterinarian to see what therapies have been tried in the past, and what medications your pet has been given. These records are a valuable source of information, and will help identify potential causes such as seasonality, sensitivity to medication, problems with treatment that your pet may have had, and any improvements or relapses in the past. This information, combined with the history we obtain from you, is a vital part of the workup of your pet.

To try and identify the various possible diagnosis, multiple modalities may be employed. The results of some will be available right away, and some may be sent out to a laboratory. We may consider:

  • Skin scraping for various forms of parasites
  • Flea combing for fleas
  • Cytology (cell analysis) of lesions in the skin and hair coat that may show us different bacteria and/or fungal elements
  • Bacterial and/or fungal cultures for severe skin or ear disease to identify particular bacteria/fungal organisms and target the most useful systemic medication
  • Blood work to rule out any underlying systemic illness
    • Intradermal Skin Testing (IDST) and Blood testing for environmental allergic disease
    • Limited Antigen Diet Trials to identify Food allergies/Intolerance
  • Skin biopsies if indicated
  • Aspirates of masses/tumors found in the skin
  • Video-otoscopy (a miniaturized camera that allows us to view and photograph the ear canal and eardrum)
  • CT scans/ MRI for evaluation of middle and inner ear disease if indicated
Once we've identified the cause of your pet's skin disorder, we'll have a differential diagnosis, if not a definitive diagnosis, and will work with you and your primary care veterinarian to develop the most appropriate treatment plan. This might include:
  • Systemic and topical therapies to clear infections in the skin
  • Allergy vaccines for immunotherapy in dogs with certain allergic diseases
  • Dietary changes for dogs with different allergic disease
  • Long-term management of chronic skin or ear diseases which may require ongoing treatment using the most up-to-date medications and treatment regimens for your pet's disease

Conditions We Diagnose and Treat

  • Allergies - the most common cause of skin problems in pets; allergies are usually food-related, environmental, or contact-related
  • Cutaneous and subcutaneous infection of the skin - commonly caused by bacteria and fungi
  • Parasitic infestations - due to fleas, ticks and other parasites
  • Immune-mediated disease - occurs when the body's own immune system attacks the healthy skin
  • Ear infections - often breed-related (dogs with flopped ears are more susceptible) but can be caused by allergies
  • Middle and inner-ear diseases - bulla disease, primary secretory otitis media
  • Skin Tumors
  • Haircoat abnormalities - loss of hair, thinning hair coat, dry hair coat
  • Genetic abnormalities of the skin and coat
  • Endocrine and Metabolic disease affecting the skin and coat
For more information about NorthStar VETS Dermatology Department,
simply call us at 609.259.8300.