Dermatology and Allergy Service Details

To learn more about any of the services below, simply select the topic to reveal more information.

The initial examination involves obtaining an extensive history, followed by a thorough dermatological examination by one of our Dermatologists. The doctor will discuss you pet’s condition with you and help you decide on the best diagnostic and treatment plan for your family friend. Recheck examinations are important to assure your pet is responding to therapies properly and to perform further diagnostics if indicated.
Dermatohistopathology: A procedure that entails taking a tiny section of affected skin from your pet. The skin can then be processed, stained, and observed on a microscopic level to help determine what type of skin disease your pet has. This procedure can often times be performed under local anesthesia, thereby precluding the need for sedation or general anesthesia.
This entails taking samples from the outer layers of the skin, applying a special stain, and inspecting these samples under the microscope for infections, inflammatory cells, tumor cells, etc.
This entails taking samples from the ear canal (usually with a cotton swab) and then rolling the sample on a microscope slide, heat fixing it, staining it and then evaluating the sample under a microscope. The samples can often tell us what type of infection is present in the ear and then how to better treat it.
Cultures may be needed when infectious diseases such as bacteria, fungi, or mycobacteria are suspected. Culturing the skin or discharge from the skin enables us to grow the organism in the lab and determine which antimicrobial treatments will work best for that infection.
There are a wide variety of lab tests that can be performed to help identify problems with internal organ systems, check antibody levels against certain infections, evaluate hormone levels and monitor for possible side effects to medications, to name a few. Most of the samples are sent to our state-of-the-art in house regional laboratory (Antech Diagnostic Laboratories—one of the two largest national laboratories)
A quick procedure that entails using a dull blade and mineral oil to gently scrape the surface of the skin and collect a sample. This sample is then placed on a microscope to look for mites that live on the skin or in the hair follicles. Sometimes hair may need to be shaved from an area that requires scraping.
Swabs are obtained by using a cotton tip applicator (similar to a Q-tip). Swabs are generally taken from the ears or skin; they are then rolled onto a microscope slide, stained, and evaluated for infection and inflammatory cells. Swabs may also be dipped in mineral oil and then placed in the ear to obtain a sample; mites are often looked for with this type of swab.
Video otoscopy has revolutionized how we evaluate and treat ear diseases in our four-legged family members. The video otoscope is a fiber-optic scope that enables us to visualize and perform procedures on the ear canal and eardrum much better than with old-fashioned handheld otoscopes. We can clean the ear more thoroughly and more safely through tiny channels in the scope along with our special suction/flushing apparatus. Masses in the ear canal can also be biopsied and oftentimes removed or debulked with the aid of the special scope.
A procedure where small amounts of allergen are injected into the skin to determine whether your pet reacts (is allergic to) this allergen. This procedure is often done under a reversible sedative. A guide for Intradermal Testing Preparation is below.

Discontinue all drugs/topicals that interfere with the intradermal skin test (including corticosteroids)

Type of drug/topical                                                                                                  Recommended Withdrawal Time

Topical shampoos or conditioners, e.g. Cortisoothe, Resicort 2-4 weeks
Topical ear medications, e.g. otomax, tresaderm, malotic, synotic, gentaved, tritop, malacetic-HC, burotic-HC, cortisporin-otic, cortastrin. If your pet received any ear medications that may have contained steroids, then please flush ears with a non-steroid containing ear flush 3-6 weeks prior to allergy testing to help remove any residual ear medication. (please note: mometomax may require withdrawal of 8 weeks or more) 3-6 weeks
Topical eye medications that contain steroids, e.g. NeoPolyDex, gentacin durafilm, pred acetate 3-6 weeks
Topical steroid cream, ointments, gels, sprays containing hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, betamethasone, clobetasol, etc. Examples include cortaid, cortisone 10, genesis spray, gentaved spray, gentacin spray, aristocort, cormax, clobetasol, topicort 2-6 weeks
Prednisone, prednisolone, medrol, methylprednisolone, temaril-P, dexamethasone 3-6 weeks
Triamcinolone (vetalog) 8-10 weeks
Methylprednisolone (depomedrol) 8-14 weeks
Betamethasone (betasone) 12-14 weeks
Antihistamines or tricyclic antidepressants that have antihistamine properties
Oral (tablets, capsules), e.g. benadryl, diphenhydramine, tavist, clemastine, chlorpheniramine, chlortrimeton, claritin, hydroxyzine, atarax, allergra, clarinex, zyrtec, amitriptyline, elavil, doxepin 2-3 weeks
Antihistamine shampoos, e.g. histacalm 5-7 days
Antihistamine sprays, e.g. benadryl spray 5-7 days
Acepromazine (tranquilizer) 2-3 days
Pramoxine containing products, e.g. ResiProx, Relief, Aveeno anti-itch cream 2-3 days


Medications O.K. to give to or use on your pet prior to skin testing

  • Most antibiotics, e.g. cephalexin, baytril, clavamox, etc.
  • Antivirals
  • Antifungals, e.g. ketoconazole, fluconazole, itraconazole, griseofulvin
  • Heartworm preventative
  • Flea control products
  • Oatmeal containing products, e.g. EpiSoothe, ResiSoothe, Aveeno, etc.
  • Ophthalmic cyclosporine for KCS (dry eye)
  • Oral cyclosporine, e.g. Atopica, Neoral, Gengraf
  • Thyroid supplementation, e.g. soloxine, thyro-tabs
  • Heart medications
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Any medicines necessary to maintain life should be given to your pet!

Control any skin and ear infections as infections often increase your pet’s pruritus (itchiness) Symptomatic therapy for pruritus (itch) that may be used

  • Cool water baths with oatmeal containing products
  • Barrier methods, e.g. t-shirts, baby sleepers/onsies, Elizabethian collars, socks/booties, etc.

General information

  • No food after 10 pm the night before skin testing. Water is O.K.
  • Plan on having your pet stay with us for the day (overnight stay is not required).
  • A post-card sized “box” will be shaved on your pet’s lateral thorax (side of the chest).
  • Most dogs are sent home in t-shirts—the t-shirts may be removed the evening of the skin test or the next day. We thank the clients and staff members who have donated t-shirts.

More information coming soon.
Laser or LASER is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. We use our laser to remove or ablate small masses, tumors or skin lesions.

VRCC Dermatology Canine Allergic Dermatitis Study
VRCC Dermatology will be enrolling dogs with allergic dermatitis in a clinical trial evaluating a new medication. There are inclusion/exclusion criteria that need to be met.  

VRCC Dermatology Canine Demodicosis Study
VRCC Dermatology will be enrolling dogs with adult-onset demodicosis in a treatment-based clinical trial. This study is tentatively slated to start in July, 2018. There are inclusion/exclusion criteria that need to be met.  If eligible and if study criteria are met, study exams will be covered by the study.

Please contact the Dermatology Department at 303-874-2078 for more information on any of the above studies.