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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

When to Visit a Veterinary Dermatologist

An older dog getting an eye examGone are the days of James Herriot, when the good old family veterinarian could save your dairy cow, deliver a litter of puppies, and cast your sheep’s broken leg in the same day. While there are veterinarians out there who still do “it all”, the reality is that with ever-advancing knowledge in the field it has become impossible for one person to be truly great at all aspects of veterinary medicine.

Becoming a veterinarian in general requires a four-year undergraduate degree as well as a four-year education at an accredited veterinary school. Veterinarians who choose to specialize in a field such as dermatology complete another one-year internship and then a three-year residency training program in order to gain extensive experience in the area. They must then pass a board certification examination in order to earn the title of dermatologist.

Such training is impressive, but you may be thinking: “My pet’s regular veterinarian helped her skin problem last year with no issues”. So why would you visit a veterinary dermatologist? Read on to find out.

Reasons to Visit a Veterinary Dermatologist

While not every skin problem requires the help of a veterinary dermatologist, there are certain situations where seeking help from a specialist may be best. These include:

  • Your pet is not getting better – Sometimes, despite the care of your regular veterinarian, a problem may not improve. Worse yet, it may continue to progress. If things aren’t improving after multiple visits to your regular vet, it may be time to visit us.
  • Your pet has chronic problems – Many skin problems such as allergic dermatitis, pyoderma, or autoimmune conditions must be managed rather than cured. These often are best controlled under the close watch of a veterinary dermatologist.
  • Your regular veterinarian has recommended referral – When a pet’s skin disease is beyond the scope of a general practice veterinarian, or if specialized tests or treatments are required, referral may be recommended.
  • You want a second opinion – With many things in medicine, there is no one right answer. If you are not happy with how your pet is doing or just want another opinion, it is perfectly acceptable to want to visit a dermatologist.

Why a Specialist May Be Best

A veterinary dermatologist is often the best choice for pets with skin problems. This is because:

  • They have extensive training in the area
  • They have lots of experience with pet skin problems, even unusual ones
  • They have access to cutting edge research and treatments regarding pet dermatology
  • They have the time and resources to provide you with extensive monitoring and follow-up
  • They are more likely to run fewer tests to make a diagnosis, resulting in less visits and expense to pet owners, and quicker resolution to the pet’s issue.

Skin diseases of many kinds are notoriously frustrating and difficult to treat. Sometimes your pet stands the best chance of being quickly diagnosed and effectively treated when seen by an expert in the field. We are happy to see any pet with a skin problem when needed. Please let us know if you would like to have your pet evaluated.