Dermatology is the study of the skin and the associated structures. Many dogs and cats encounter skin problems throughout their lives, especially in our humid Houston environment. The most common skin disease in our area is caused by fleas. Dogs and cats become very sensitive to the saliva and the bite of the adult flea. There are numerous products on the market to control flea populations, and it is important to note that flea control must be approached in two distinct phases for control to be complete. The adult flea must be killed, hopefully before it does much damage to the skin of your pet. This "adulticide" therapy greatly reduces the number of live adult fleas in the environment and dramatically reduces the number available to bite the animal. However, no adulticide is 100% effective. Controlling the flea population with growth inhibition also controls the number of fleas that can reproduce in your immediate environment.
However, there can be many other causes of a pet’s itchy skin, including inhalant allergies (atopy), food allergies, cutaneous mite infestations, fungal skin infections, and occasionally dermal tumors. We look for patterns in the history of symptoms to help guide our diagnostic choices to determine the specific cause of each patient’s disease. Diagnostic tests performed in our office include impression skin cytology, skin scrapings, ringworm culture, needle aspirates, and biopsies of affected skin lesions. Treatment of skin disease is targeted to control symptoms associated with infection and itch while also managing the underlying disease. Referral to a Board Certified Veterinary Dermatologist, when appropriate, helps to provide comprehensive care for our dermatology cases.