Pet Talk: Veterinary dermatologists help pets look and feel their best
In addition to the burden of fleas and ticks, pets can experience skin health issues, such as dry skin or allergic reactions. Fortunately, the dermatology service at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) can help.
Most dermatology cases at the CVM involve health issues with fleas and ticks, skin and ear allergies, and bacterial and yeast infections on the skin and in the ears. Dr. Adam Patterson, clinical associate professor and chief of dermatology at the CVM, explained some of the common reasons pets visit the dermatology service.
“In dermatology, we're like allergists are to people,” Patterson said. “Animals can be allergic to many things, including fleas, the food they eat, plant pollen, or even indoor things, such as house dust mites and mold. At the CVM, we mainly treat allergic skin and ear disease of dogs, cats, and horses.”
In rare cases, the CVM also treats more serious conditions, such as autoimmune diseases of the skin. One such case includes Waylon, a Labrador retriever that developed scabs on his nose and painful pimples on his paws.
“His own immune system was attacking his skin,” Patterson said. “His skin disease, called pemphigus foliaceus, can occur spontaneously. Occasionally, we believe it can be triggered by certain drugs or vaccines, but nothing has been fully proven.”
Though veterinary dermatologists are trained to treat emergency cases such as Waylon’s, Patterson reminded pet owners that these cases are rare. However, any changes in skin health, including the appearance of fleas and ticks, itch, hair loss, or other skin sores should always be reported to a veterinarian.
“Skin health is important because it may reflect disease limited to the skin or even signify a potentially more serious illness,” Patterson said.
Whether your pet lives primarily indoors or outdoors, taking care of their skin is important to their overall health. Be sure to consult your veterinarian about any concerns for your furry friend’s skin.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.