Treating Pet Skin Conditions
A wide variety of inflammatory and chronic skin conditions can impact dogs and cats. That said, some are more serious than others.
Conditions can include bacterial and fungal infections, skin parasites, hormonal and immune-mediated (auto-immune) issues, hair loss, and allergies. There may also be congenital, neoplastic, or other causes.
We bring our years of training and experience to diagnose, treat and manage all skin, coat, ear, and nail diseases in animals, and work closely with clients and their family veterinarians.
This allows for a more accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment. We serve clients from Englewood, Denver Metro, and the surrounding areas.
Board-Certified Veterinary Dermatologists
A board-certified veterinary dermatologist has completed additional training after veterinary school in dermatology. Throughout this training, a dermatologist completes an internship and specialized residency, passes comprehensive exams, and completes publication requirements to become board-certified in Veterinary Dermatology by the American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD).
What to Expect at Your Pet’s Appointment
Understanding what you can expect at your pet's dermatology appointment will help make the process easier for both you and your pet.
Here are some tips to remember for preparation, the examination and treatment planning run as smoothly as possible.
- Prepare & Fill Out Registration Forms
Please do not feed your pet after midnight the night before your pet’s appointment; water is OK. Please do not bathe your pet for at least 3-4 days before your pet’s appointment. Please do not apply any topical medications to your pet’s skin for at least 24-48 hours prior to your pet’s appointment.
Do not put ear medications or flushes in your pets’ ears the morning of your appointment. Please arrive 15-20 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment time as there is quite a bit of paperwork to be filled out. You may complete some of the paperwork prior to the appointment.
Please fill out the Dermatology Form prior to arriving. You'll also be asked to fill out the Patient Intake Form when you arrive. If you are unable to complete this intake form please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment time to allow time to complete the form.
- What to Bring
Please bring a list of or bring any medications, nutritional supplements, and topical therapies that are currently being used or have been used in the past on your pet. This will help us in creating a treatment plan for your pet. Please also bring information on the diet your pet is being fed.
We also request that, if possible, you bring a copy of your pet’s medical records from your veterinarian for us to keep or have your veterinarian fax the records to us. Our fax number is (303) 874-3203. Please mark it “Attention Dermatology”. It is always best to be over-prepared for your pet’s appointment.
- Examination & Diagnostics
Our dermatology specialist will work with you to determine the cause of your pet's discomfort and will recommend treatment based on their needs.
Please plan to spend about 1 to 2 hours at your first appointment so a complete dermatological history can be obtained and an examination completed by one of our dermatologists.
We may also ask that you leave your pet with us for several hours so we can collect and evaluate samples for diagnosis and write a report for you and your veterinarian. We will try to accommodate your schedule as best as possible. We typically make arrangements with clients so they can pick up their pets later that day.
- Treatment Planning
Once the cause of your pet's skin condition has been determined, we will develop a plan to treat it. Treatment may include prescription medication, shampoo/conditioner, an ear flush, allergy vaccines, or simple changes to your pet’s environment.
- Post-Visit Followup
We will review any instructions for at-home care with you and provide a typed handout.
A fax and/or letter will be sent to your primary care veterinarian within 24-48 hours of your pet’s appointment. Please return to your pet’s regular/primary-care veterinarian for all routine care.
While more than one visit may be needed since many dermatological conditions are not curable and may require long-term maintenance, we do not take the place of your pet’s primary care provider. Annual rechecks are needed to refill prescription medications, ensure your pet is responding to therapies properly, and perform further diagnosis if required.
Here are some commonly asked questions we've received from clients coming in for appointments with their pets at VRCC Dermatology:
- What do your services include?
Our services include consultation, extensive client education, and progressive, advanced, state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment options for each patient. This may include intradermal allergy testing, allergen-specific immunotherapy, and video otoscopy. Diagnostics include skin scrapings, cutaneous, mucocutaneous, oral, nail and otic (ear) cytology, biopsies, and cultures.
- What are your appointment hours?
Dermatology appointments are currently only available on Mondays and Tuesdays.
To book an appointment please call (303) 874-2078 during our office hours, Monday to Friday between 7:00 am - 5:00 pm.
- What if I need to cancel or reschedule an appointment?
Please call (303) 874-2078 to notify us at least 24 hours in advance if you need to change or cancel your appointment so another patient may use that appointment time.
If you do not show for a scheduled appointment and have not called to cancel at least 24 hours in advance, you may be responsible for a cancellation fee.
- How do I pick up my pet's prescription?
To have your pet's prescription refilled, please call (303) 874-2078 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will contact you when your pet’s prescription is ready. To avoid interruptions in your pet’s treatment, please do not wait until the last minute before obtaining refills.
Prescriptions, including shampoos, conditioners, ear flushes, ear and eye medications, sprays, and other products, except certain foods, are non-returnable and non-refundable.
When ordering allergen-specific immunotherapy (allergy shots) for your pet, please allow 1-2 weeks for your order to be ready for pick up. Please remember to order needles, syringes, and a sharps container, if needed, when placing your order for immunotherapy. If you would like your immunotherapy order to be filled sooner than 1-2 weeks, a fee will be applied.
By law, prescriptions can only be made for one year. After a year another appointment must be made to refill your pet's medications.
- When should I book my checkup/recheck appointment?
After one year, a recheck appointment must be scheduled to continue the doctor/patient relationship with our dermatologist, or with your primary care veterinarian who can then refill your medications if they feel comfortable doing so.
- How do I pay any outstanding fees?
The fees for services are usual and customary for the specialized service rendered. If intensive diagnostic, therapeutic, or surgical intervention is needed, an estimate will be given. Fees are payable in full at the time of release/discharge. Payment may be made by cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express, CareCredit, and Scratchpay.
- How can I contact you if I have questions or concerns?
If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Here are our hours:
Dermatology Department: Monday - Friday 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
VRCC Emergency: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We also have an emergency service to help answer questions if dermatology staff are unavailable.
Diagnostics & Tools
Here are some of the state-of-the-art diagnostic tests and tools we use in VRCC's dermatology department:
- Biopsies A procedure that involves removing a small section of your pet's affected skin. The skin can then be processed, stained, and examined under a microscope to determine what type of skin disease your pet has. This procedure is frequently performed under local anesthesia, eliminating the need for sedation or general anesthesia.
- Skin Cytology This entails taking samples from the skin's outer layers, staining them with a special stain, and inspecting them under a microscope for infections, inflammatory cells, tumor cells, and so on.
- Ear Cytology
Taking samples from the ear canal (usually with a cotton swab), 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 how to treat it more effectively.
- Cultures When infectious diseases such as bacteria, fungi, or mycobacteria are suspected, cultures may be required. Culturing the skin or skin discharge allows us to grow the organism in the lab and determine which antimicrobial treatments will be most effective for that infection.
- Laboratory Tests
We offer a 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 potential medication side effects.
- Skin Scrapings
A procedure that involves gently scraping the surface of the skin with a dull blade and mineral oil to collect a sample. The sample is then examined under a microscope for mites that live on the skin or in hair follicles. Hair from an area that needs scraping may need to be shaved at times.
Swabs are typically taken from the ears or skin and rolled onto a microscope slide, stained, and analyzed for infection and inflammatory cells. Swabs can also be dipped in mineral oil and placed in the ear to collect a sample. Mites are frequently found using this type of swab.
- Intradermal Allergy Testing
A procedure in which small amounts of allergen are injected into the skin to see if your pet reacts to (is allergic to) the allergen. This procedure is frequently performed under the influence of a reversible sedative.
Vet Dermatology & Allergy Services
We offer a range of advanced, progressive veterinary dermatology and allergy services to treat various dermatological issues in pets. They include:
- Video Otoscopy for Ears
The video otoscope is a fiber-optic scope that enables us to visualize and perform procedures in the ear canal. Did you know that, at no extra cost, nearly every patient will have their ears looked at with our video otoscope?
We also take photos of each patient's ear canals. These become part of the medical record that helps us monitor progress of ear treatments. With our video otoscope, we can visualize the ear canal much better than with traditional otoscopes. Better visualization means better care for your pet! In addition, we can clean the ear more thoroughly and more safely through tiny channels in the scope along with our special suction/flushing apparatus.
Immunotherapy involves giving the pet small amounts of the allergen on a regular basis until they eventually overcome the reaction. For this treatment to be effective, the allergens causing the reaction must first be identified correctly through testing.
- CT Scan
The CT scan is primarily used in our patients with ear diseases that require a deeper, more thorough look in places where the video otoscope cannot "see" such as structures behind the ear drum.
- Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy (Allergy Injections or Oral Allergy Drops)
Allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) involves giving the pet small amounts of the allergen by injection (subcutaneously under the skin) or by oral allergy drops (under the tongue or inside the cheek) on a regular basis to help desensitize the allergic patient to their allergy allergens.
ASIT is considered safe and one of the only disease modifying treatments – that is, it targets the root of the patient's allergy problem. Over 98% of our pet owners administer ASIT at home. For this treatment to be most effective, the allergens causing the reaction must first be identified correctly through allergy testing. There are two types of allergy testing –intradermal (skin) allergy testing or serum (blood) allergy testing. Intradermal allergy testing is considered the "gold standard" by most veterinary dermatologists.
- Clinical Trials
VRCC Dermatology/Allergy is enrolling dogs with allergic dermatitis in a clinical trial evaluating a new medication. VRCC Dermatology/Allergy also enrolling dogs with allergic ear disease into a clinical trial evaluating a new ear medication.
There are inclusion/exclusion criteria that need to be met with both clinical trials – this is very standard for clinical trials. In addition, there are financial stipends for the pet owner. Please contact the Dermatology Department at (303) 874-2078 or email us for more information.