Monday, October 14, 2019

Happy National Veterinary Technician Week

Happy National Veterinary Technician Week. 🐴🐶🐾😻🦜🦎🐇🐄🐹 Thanks for all you do! ❤️👍
#vettech #dermatologyforanimals

October 13-19, 2019
Veterinary technicians are critical to the day-to-day function of veterinary practices, and play vital roles in preserving animal health and welfare. National Veterinary Technician Week provides an opportunity to recognize veterinary technicians’ contributions. 🥰

 Make sure to thank your favorite tech!

I have been in the veterinary field since 1994.  I started out at the bottom and quickly learned the ropes.  It is not knowledge that appears overnight.  The information is passed to you from doctors, techs, assistants and other support staff. Things they have learned, losses they have had and victories they have achieved.  Everything I have learned about veterinary medicine has made me the person I am today.  I have been the pet sitter, the kennel person, the veterinary assistant, the receptionist, the front office manager, the IT person, the hospital administrator, the janitor, the office manager, the dog walker and the team member.

Veterinary Medicine is challenging!  Your'e happy one minute to see the new puppy and sad the next to euthanize the older, kidney failure cat.  I can't express enough that this wasn't my career of choice.  I was lucky enough to fall into this field in 1994.  I met a doctor that said, "come work with me"!!  She was my first mentor, my first inspiration and an amazing person.  I worked for her for 8 years and wonder to this day if she hadn't had to change her life - would i still be working with her?  I would say yes, but then I wouldn't have learned all the many new & different "things" I have learned - or would I have?!

This veterinary field can take you anywhere you want to go but you have to want the challenge and need to have the drive to succeed.  Failure is there but you have to learn daily to make the changes you want to see in yourself.  

I remember the first euthanasia I was ever part of :(  It was an older cat that had been making some improvement with different treatments.  I would help this cat at the appointments by administering SQ fluids and snuggles.  I never thought in a million years I would be there for his last breath.  I was so hard!  I was taught in technician school "do not let the client see you cry".  How in the world does this get taught and how can it be?  Needless to say I cried - as I am doing now.  It was hard but best for the cat that was failing to thrive.  This was when I worked in general practice - which I did for more than 1/ 2 of my career.  

Wow! What a career it has been.  I have gained most of my fur babies through different clinics, met most of my best friends and my mentors!  I am proud to be a CVT - Certified Veterinary Technician!  Proud to say I have helped that pet, loved that pet, administered medications, anesthesia, put in IV catheters,  can proficiently use a microscope, have trained employees, assisting in surgery, performed xrays, drawn blood on a furry moving target, looked into the eyes of a parvo puppy, helped with c-sections and brought puppies into this world,  weighed bladder stones that were 1/2 the weight of a Yorkie and made the paw print of a deceased dog so their family would have a last memory.  Not to mention the different doctors and practices that  I have shared many years with...  I've been lucky enough to enjoy - general practice, Chinese Medicine, Chiropractic, start up practices, the sale of a practice, sitting on different boards for certifications, writing online CE's, AAHA inspections, protocol writing, Rehabilitation medicine, urgent care and specialty.  I would like to say I have come full circle!  I started with going to art school in the 80's - graphic design & commercial art, tech school in the 90's and now I am a CVT & Marketing Coordinator for an amazing company.

I have loved every aspect of this field, made great friends and learned to work with many different styles of doctors, all wonderful in their own way.  There has always been one common goal - "doing what is best for the pet".  Sharing our love though our passion and knowledge!

Happy Veterinary Technician week to all my friends and all the technicians/assistants in our big, amazing and wonderfully growing field.  Cheers & enjoy this special week!  🐴🐶🐾😻🦜🦎🐇🐄🐹 

Laura Rice, CVT
Marketing Coordinator, 
Social Media & Website Design
Dermatology for Animals

Friday, October 11, 2019

Ear Mites - Also Known As: Otodectes cynotis

Ear Mites - Also Known As: Otodectes cynotis 

Transmission or Cause: Ear mites are passed from one animal to another through close contact. Humans rarely also can get a skin rash from the parasite, and, on rare occasions, can get the mites in their own ears. Good hygiene usually will prevent mites from affecting people. 

Affected Animals: All animals, including humans, can get mites. 

Overview: Highly contagious, ear mites are a common cause of many ear problems in cats and, less commonly, in dogs. Ear mites are found in cats of all ages, but kittens tend to be infected more commonly. These mites can cause intense itching. Severe trauma to the infected area may result when cats scratch the irritated skin. Often, but not always, a dark, granular substance will be present in the ear canal of a cat with ear mites, and signs of irritation and itchiness will be evident. Diagnosis can be achieved through visual identification of the mites under a microscope from debris or skin scrapings. The prognosis for ear mites is excellent with proper treatment, which generally involves topical application of a miticide to the affected areas. 

Clinical Signs: Clinical signs of ear mites develop as the mites feed in the ear canal. The feeding causes irritation and the canals will fill with wax, mite debris, and blood. The ear canals typically have a dark, coffee ground-like substance in them. Cats may have itching of the ears, but not always. The mites also can crawl to other parts of the body and can cause itching there. Symptoms: See clinical signs. 

Description: Otodectes cynotis is a type of mite that lives on the surface of the skin, rather than tunneling into it. The mite is able to reproduce in the ears and live approximately two months. They cause an intense hypersensitive reaction that leads to severe itching in many animals. Some animals cause a significant amount of trauma to their ears by constant scratching. Ear mites are very contagious. In addition, they can migrate to other parts of the body and cause itching. Ear Mites 

Diagnosis: Diagnosis commonly is made by using a cotton-tipped applicator to take a sample of the debris in the ear canals. The material then is viewed in mineral oil under a microscope to determine if mites are present. Other ways of diagnosing ear mites include looking into the ears with an otoscope to identify mites visually. The light from the otoscope warms up the mites so that they can be seen crawling around. Skin scrapings, performed by using a dull blade gently to scrape the skin, sometimes are helpful to determine the presence of mites on other parts of the body. The material then is evaluated under the microscope. 

Prognosis: With proper treatment, ear mites can be cured. However, all animals that have been exposed to the infected animal must be treated as well, since mites are highly contagious. 

Treatment: Treatment starts with a very thorough cleaning of the ears to get all the debris and wax out of the canals. If the ears are not properly cleaned, mites can survive the treatment because the wax and debris protects them. There are several medications available for the treatment of ear mites. Some contain miticide only; others will have antibiotics and/or a medication to help break down wax and debris. A typical treatment involves applying a topical medication directly into the ears for several weeks; each animal may not respond to certain medications, so treatments may vary. The use of flea sprays, powders, or topical preparations will be necessary to help prevent mites from re-infecting the ears. Consult with a veterinarian about the various medications that are available. An alternative treatment involves using an injectable or oral medication called ivermectin. Although ivermectin is a highly effective and common treatment, this use is considered extra-label, and should NOT be used in certain breed of dogs, such as collies, Shetland sheepdogs, Old English sheepdogs, and any herding dogs or their crosses. Side effects in these breeds can lead to death. Ivermectin usually is very safe for cats, however, and can be especially useful in animals that are difficult to treat or that are outdoors and hard to catch daily. 

Prevention: Effective prevention requires proper medical treatment of all animals that have mites, or that have been in contact with animals carrying mites. The use of an effective flea control product that stays on the animal for several days helps to control the spread of mites to other parts of the body. Disinfecting the environment with appropriate insecticides also is very helpful. Consult a veterinarian about the use of safe insecticides in the animal’s environment. It is particularly difficult to control the spread of mites in catteries and kennels because so many animals are housed together closely.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Cytology-Microscope Tips!

At Dermatology for Animals we have many services that help us better evaluate your pets skin.  When we set up an in-house fungal test we wait for the plate to change and when it's ready we get the cytology/slide ready for viewing with the microscope.  Dr. Frost has made a short video to show you how to properly make a cytology/slide to easily view a fungal culture.  What is a cytology?

Skin Cytology 

Cytology of the skin is used to identify infection and cells that are indicative of autoimmune disorders. A slide or piece of tape is pressed to the animal's skin (in this case from the fungal plate), picking up samples of the cells and hairs and any microorganisms present.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Why visit a Veterinary Dermatologist?

Why visit a Veterinary Dermatologist?
  • What is a Specialist?
A veterinary dermatologist is a veterinarian with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of animal skin, ear, hair, nail, hoof and mouth disorders. Specifically veterinary dermatologists have significant training and experience in the management of allergic skin disease.
  • All pets itch, so why should I bring my pet to a dermatologist?
Just like people, pets can be overly sensitive to certain irritants that cause them distress. Additionally, certain breeds are associated with skin conditions that bring discomfort to both the pet and the owner. Dermatologists are exposed to a broader range of these conditions on a daily basis and have learned how to identify the subtle differences between each condition. Dermatology for Animals can help provide relief for the pet and answers for the owner.
  • How do I know when to consult a dermatologist?
Your pet can see a dermatologist anytime. If you are concerned with your pet's quality of life, or if a condition or disease has failed to respond to general treatment, then it is time to see a dermatologist. Here are a few signs that an appointment should be scheduled:
  • Hair Loss (Alopecia)
  • Ear Infections
  • Itch
  • Redness of Skin (Erythema)
  • Scale
  • Recurrent Infections
  • Pet's and/or Owner's Quality of Life

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Treatment Options for Allergies in Pets

Treatment Options for Allergies in Pets

Introduction: Pets with allergies to pollen, grass, or dust are affected with atopic dermatitis (environmental allergies), or atopy. In humans, environmental allergies cause symptoms such as runny eyes and sneezing, but animals with environmental allergies more commonly show symptoms such as scratching, licking of the feet, and recurrent skin and ear infections. These symptoms may appear only during certain times of the year if the main offending allergens are seasonal pollens, but can occur throughout the year if the allergens persist in the environment year round (such as housedust mites and human dander). Atopic dermatitis typically starts in dogs between the ages of 6 months to 5 years; in cats, atopy can occur at any age. In dogs, there is an increased incidence of allergies in certain breeds such as terriers, cocker spaniels, labradors, golden retrievers, shar-peis, and german shepherds, however, any breed can be affected. The diagnosis of atopy is made by considering the symptoms, seasonality, and response to medications. Additionally, measures must be taken to ensure no other similar itchy skin diseases such as food allergies, skin parasites, or skin infections are present. Once the clinical diagnosis of atopy has been made, treatment options include topical and/or oral medications or allergy testing and immunotherapy to treat the underlying cause of the itching.
Symptomatic Allergy Treatment: Allergic animals with mild or strictly seasonal symptoms can often be managed by just using medications to treat their symptoms. Symptomatic medications include topical products such as shampoos, conditioners, and sprays, as well as oral medications such as antihistamines, fatty acids, steroids, Apoquel, Cytopoint, and cyclosporine.
Topical therapy: Shampoos, conditioners, and sprays used for allergies usually contain ingredients that help reduce itching such as oatmeal, topical anesthetics, antihistamines, or steroids. Allergic dogs benefit from frequent bathing not only because of the anti-itch ingredients, but because bathing helps to reduce environmental allergens that are accumulated on the skin and coat. Due to animal’s skin pH differences compared to humans, topical products designed specifically for pets should be used. Weekly bathing and daily rinses or wipe-downs with a wet washcloth are usually recommended. It is important that the shampoos be gentle (avoid tar and benzoyl peroxide products unless the dog is very greasy) so that the skin and coat do not become dry. Note that topical products that contain steroids (such as hydrocortisone, betamethasone, and triamcinolone) should be used carefully. An excessive use of topical steroids can predispose a pet to skin infections and can cause the skin to become excessively thin or create blackheads.
Antihistamines: Oral antihistamines (such as Benadryl, cetirizine, clemastine, chlorpheniramine, and hydroxyzine) are helpful to reduce itching in 30-40% of allergic pets and help prevent flares. They are not as potent as other treatments, but also do not have unwanted side effects. No antihistamine is better or more potent than another. Just as in humans, multiple antihistamines often must be tried to find the best one for each individual pet. They also need to be consistently given two to three times daily for benefit, and the dose requirements for pets are usually higher than for people so it is important to ask your veterinarian about the right dose for your pet. In some pets, side effects can occur such as sleepiness or excitability. When buying over the counter antihistamines, it is very important to select products which only contain the active ingredient needed and do not contain pain killers or decongestants. Antihistamines may not be appropriate if pets have certain medical conditions such as seizures, glaucoma, hypertension, or urinary retention.
Fatty acids: Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids are derived from sources such as fish oil, flaxseed oil, and vegetable oils. They have mild anti-inflammatory effects on the skin, as well improving skin dryness. They need to be given for 1-3 months before a beneficial effect is seen. An oral combination of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids appears to be ideal for treatment of allergic dermatitis in dogs. There are multiple combination products manufactured for pets, available in capsule, powder, liquid, or chewable tablet form. Fatty acids also work synergistically with antihistamines to help reduce skin inflammation and itching. They may not be appropriate for use in pets with other medical disorders such as high cholesterol or clotting problems. 
Steroids: Injectable or oral steroids such as cortisone or prednisone have many pros and cons in the treatment of allergies in pets. They are inexpensive and work quickly and effectively to reduce itching and inflammation, and for short term use they are relatively safe. However, steroids have numerous side effects such as increased thirst, urination, hunger, and weight gain. With prolonged use at high doses, steroids may cause liver enlargement and increased liver enzymes, can cause high blood pressure and kidney disease, weakened muscles and ligaments, infections of the skin and bladder, and thinning of the skin and hair loss. Animals that are treated with long-term steroids should have physical examinations, bloodwork, and urine testing regularly to monitor side effects. Additionally, other options to treat their allergies and to reduce their dependence on steroids should be used if possible.
Cyclosporine: Cyclosporine (brand name Atopica) is an oral medication which can be used as a non-steroidal way to reduce allergic skin inflammation and itching. It is helpful in approximately 80% of allergic dogs to control itch, but is more expensive than steroids. Cyclosporine is given by mouth daily for 4-6 weeks, then the frequency of administration is slowly decreased to the lowest possible amount needed for comfort. Some animals need it daily, and in some the dose can be reduced to every 2-3 days. Cyclosporine has fewer side effects than steroids, but because it is still an immunosuppressive drug (it is used in human medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection), regular physical examinations with bloodwork and urine testing should be performed in pets on cyclosporine long term. Potential side effects include vomiting and diarrhea, and more rarely skin or internal infections and benign growths on the skin or gums.

Apoquel®: Apoquel (Oclacitinib) is an exciting, new, unique drug for treating itching associated with allergic dermatitis, especially atopy (environmental allergies). This novel non-steroidal drug is unique in that it targets a specific pathway involved in itching and inflammation. It has a rapid onset of action, with improvement generally seen within 1-2 days (improvement may take longer if concurrent infections are present and being treated). As it targets a pathway involved in itching, rather than affecting multiple areas of the immune system as steroids and Atopica® can, it is thought to be a safer drug than these alternatives. Additionally, it does not have the adverse effects that we can see with steroids. It is generally prescribed twice daily for a maximum of 14 days with a chronic maintenance dose of once daily if needed. It can be used for acute flares for short periods of time or long term as a maintenance therapy for non-seasonal environmental allergies. As this drug does still affect the immune system and does require a healthy liver to metabolize it, regular examinations as well as routine bloodwork and urine monitoring are recommended. This drug is contraindicated if there is a history of cancer or demodicosis (mange mites).
Allergy Testing and Desensitization: Allergy testing is performed in environmentally allergic pets not to make a diagnosis of allergies, but to indicate which allergens are to be included in desensitization therapy. Remember, the diagnosis of atopy is made by symptoms, response to medications, and eliminating the possibility of other itchy skin diseases such as food allergies or skin parasites/infections. Allergy testing and desensitization (immunotherapy) are appropriate in animals with allergic symptoms that last longer than 2-3 months per year, in pets in which the symptomatic treatment for allergies is not helpful, or pets who require medications longer than 2-3 months out of a year. Allergy testing can be performed with a blood test (which is more convenient and can be performed by most primary care veterinarians, but may be less accurate than skin testing), or by intradermal/skin testing (performed by veterinary dermatologists) it requires light sedation and shaving a patch, and is considered the “gold standard” of allergy testing. Immunotherapy injections are given every 1-2 weeks or sublingual drops are given by mouth daily and are helpful in 70-75% of allergic pets to reduce symptoms and the need for medications. Allergy immunotherapy is usually a lifelong treatment and the degree of response to therapy varies with each individual animal. Some pets only need immunotherapy, some still need low doses of symptomatic medications such as antihistamines, and some still need other medications but at lower doses, less often, or only during certain seasons. Allergy immunotherapy addresses the cause of a pet’s itchy skin by changing/calming down the hyperactive immune response to the environmental allergens, but require time (2-18 months) for effect, so symptomatic medications are continued while immunotherapy has time to take effect.
Cytopoint: Cytopoint is a new, innovative option for treating itching associated with atopic dermatitis (environmental allergies) in dogs. This novel therapy is a canine monoclonal antibody that specifically targets a molecule within the body called interleukin-31 (IL-31), a key protein responsible for signaling to the brain that the skin is itchy. By neutralizing IL-31, Cytopoint blocks an important step in the itch pathway. Cytopoint is available as an injectable liquid that is administered subcutaneously (beneath the skin) as frequently as once per month, though in some dogs it may prevent itching for even longer periods of time and can be administered less frequently. Like Apoquel, Cytopoint has a rapid onset of action, with improvement generally seen within 1-2 days. Since Cytopoint only targets IL-31 and does not affect other interleukins or other parts of the immune system, it is believed to be safer than steroids, Atopica, and Apoquel. No serious side effects have been associated with the use of Cytopoint. However, it is possible that it could cause an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis similar to what is seen in dogs with vaccine reactions. Consequently, it is recommended that dogs be monitored for a few hours after receiving a Cytopoint injection. Some dogs may experience lethargy for 1-2 days after receiving a Cytopoint injection. As this drug is so new, regular examinations and routine bloodwork and urine monitoring are recommend to evaluate for other possible side effects.
Summary: Although allergies in pets are not “curable”, they are very treatable and controllable in most pets. Every animal is an individual and often different medications need to be tried or combinations of medications may need to be used for maximum comfort. When the motivated pet owner, primary care veterinarian, and in difficult cases, a veterinary dermatologist work together, our allergic pets can live long, comfortable lives.