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There are currently a substantial number of diseases of the skin that are recognized in cats, dogs and other small companion animals. Many of these skin conditions are treated and managed by general practice veterinarians. For more complex cases, including melanomas, congenital defects, autoimmune and endocrine disorders, fungal/viral/bacterial/parasitic infections, endocrine disorders and allergy testing and therapy, the primary care provider may refer the patient to a veterinary dermatologist for specialized care.
Veterinary dermatology is concerned with various specialized testing/diagnostic and treatment procedures. Skin scrapings are performed when looking for mite infestations. Swabs are obtained from the skin or ears and utilized to diagnose seditious cells and infections. Biopsies and cytologies are performed for the purpose of determining the presenting skin disease by collecting a small amount of the affected skin and staining, processing and observing it under a microscope, to look for infections, cancerous cells and inflammatory cells. Skin and discharge cultures are taken for animals suspected of having a bacterial or fungal infection in order to assess the appropriate antimicrobal treatment to pursue.
The methods of therapy employed by the dermatologist include ingestible treatments, externally applied topical ointments and injected medications.