Environmental allergy testing

Veterinary Dermatology Specialists offer the latest in allergy testing for animals. There are several types of allergy testing performed by veterinary dermatologists to ensure that your pet receives the correct diagnosis and treatment.  The goal of allergy testing is to identify the specific allergens that are causing your pets allergic reaction and skin or ear symptoms. Based on the allergy test results a vaccine (allergen specific immunotherapy) can be generated with the intent of desensitising the pet to the allergies.

As specialists in veterinary dermatology, we use a method of allergy testing called intradermal allergy testing. This involves the injection of a very small amount of allergens pollens (grasses, trees and weeds) house dust mites, storage mites, moulds and insect extracts into the superficial layers of the skin. This procedure is performed under a light sedation, therefore pets must be fasted for at least 8 hours prior to allergy testing. Intradermal allergy testing not considered to be painful but can create an itching sensation. To obtain the most accurate results, our specialists will often combine the intradermal allergy testing with blood allergy testing.

Intradermal allergy tests

Intradermal allergy tests showing strong positive reactions

Individual allergens

Biopsy & Dermatopathology

When skin biopsies are required to achieve the correct diagnosis and prognosis for an unusual skin disease in a patient, Veterinary Dermatology Specialists work closely with pathologists who have have advanced training in the interpretation of the skin diseases unique to our companion animals. These dermatopathologists can recognize subtle changes in skin biopsies, utilise specialised laboratory staining methods, and consult with our dermatologists on an individual basis to maximise the diagnostic value of skin biopsies, and so enhance our ability to treat our patients successfully.

To ensure your pet is comfortable and pain-free throughout the biopsy procedure our dermatologists will advise you about whether you pet requires a local anaesthethic +/- sedation or a general anaesthetic. Typically, the main factors that dictate which route is most appropriate for your pet include consideration about their general health status, the number of biopsies required and anatomical site requiring biopsy.

1. Skin on a dog's abdomen with pustules, crusting and inflammation.

2. The skin biopsy from the same dog. The tissue has been processed in a pathology lab.

3. The skin biopsy confirmed the patient had an auto-immune skin disorder called pemphigus foliaceus which was creating the lesions seen in the first image.

Skin cancers & growths

If your animal has an unusual lesion or growth on their body then it should be assessed to determine whether it is a benign growth or a potentially malignant cancer. At Veterinary Dermatology Specialists our dermatologists are able to provide expert advice about diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis whilst taking into consideration your pets quality of life.  We can consult with Oncologists (cancer specialists) and take a collaborative ‘team-approach’ to ensure that you receive the best advice and your pet receives optimal care.

Bee & wasp venom testing

The Veterinary Dermatology Specialists offer bee and wasp venom allergy testing. This procedure is only performed on patients that have experienced severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions. Venom allergy testing is performed under monitored sedation by our in-house specialist anaesthetist. Very small volumes of increasing concentrations of bee and wasp venom are injected into the superficial layers of the skin. If there is a strong positive skin reaction at any of the concentrations then the test is stopped. Only patients that demonstrate strong positive reactions on testing will be considered as candidates for venom desensitisation. There is an induction phase to the venom desensitisation which takes approximately 5 months to complete. Patients are then continued on maintenance doses of venom immunotherapy typically for life. More detailed information on bee and wasp venom testing and immunotherapy can be obtained by contacting our clinic on 9204 0400.

Monitored sedation; this patient is undergoing bee and wasp venom testing

Intradermal venom testing: this patient was allergic to bee venom; note the pink swelling second from the right on the top row.

Deep ear flush (Video Otoscopy with image capture)

To optimize treatment of pets with chronic ear infections, the Veterinary Dermatology Specialists utilise video-otoscopy for deep ear flushing. This procedure is performed whilst the patient is under a general anaesthetic and involves the use of specialized equipment which has a highly magnified camera lens used to examine the deeper parts of the ear canal, the ear drum, and the middle ear. It is very helpful in identifying foreign objects and tumours in the canal, abnormalities of the eardrum, and infection of the middle ear. Additionally, tiny instruments can be inserted through the video-otoscope to grasp or biopsy objects in the ear canal, or to flush debris out of the ear canal and middle ear. We like to document our findings via providing photographs and video recordings to our clients and referring veterinarian. Video-otoscopy is a valuable tool in enabling our dermatologist to accurately diagnose and treat challenging cases of chronic ear infections.

Normal ear drum with wax in the ear canal abutting the ear drum.

Polyp in an ear canal

Marked inflammation of an ear canal due to secondary infection. Note the narrowing of the canal irregular surface of the canal wall.

Hormonal & nutritional disorders

At Veterinary Dermatology Specialists our dermatologists are able to perform endocrine testing to assess for hormonal irregularities (thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones) that may be contributing to your pets skin, ear or hair coat condition. Occasionally, skin biopsy is also required to confirm the diagnosis. Our dermatologists can guide you through your pets diagnostic work-up in a step-by-step customised plan.

CO2 Laser Surgery

Veterinary Dermatology Specialists is proud to own a state-of-the-art carbon-dioxide surgical laser. Laser surgery can be performed by our Dermatologists whereby a highly focused laser beam can efficiently ablate (vaporize) abnormal tissue. The surgical laser also seals capillaries, small blood vessels, lymphatics, and nerve endings, with significant benefits to both patients and surgeons.

Laser surgery benefits for patients

  • Less Bleeding: As it cuts, the laser seals small blood vessels. This drastic reduction in bleeding enables many new surgical procedures that are not practical with conventional scalpel.
  • Less Pain: The CO2 laser beam seals nerve endings and lymphatics, resulting in less swelling and pain. The patient experiences a far more comfortable post-operative recovery.
  • Reduced risk of infection: This is one of the unique features of the CO2 laser beam. It efficiently kills bacteria in its path, producing a sterilizing effect.
  • Quicker recovery time: Reduced risk of infection, less bleeding, less pain and less swelling often allow the patient a far quicker recovery after the surgery.

The carbon-dioxide laser can be used effectively for many skin, ear, mucous membrane and lump conditions: For example:

    • Viral papillomas (warts)
    • Actinic in situ carcinoma (actinic keratosis) – sun damaged skin
    • Lump removals
    • Acral lick granuloma
    • Aural (ear) hematoma
    • Ear canal polyps
    • Feline ceruminous cystomatosis laser ablation
    • Interdigital cyst ablation
    • Perianal adenoma
    • External ear canal growth
    • Interdigital cornified growth
  • Sebaceous cyst
  • Sebaceous hyperplasia (adenoma)
  • Meibomium gland tumour (eyelid)
  • Canine pigmented viral plaques
  • Feline bowenoid in situ carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Pinna tumours
  • Calcinosis circumscripta
  • Follicular cysts
  • Follicular tumours
  • Skin tumours located in anatomical areas poorly accessible by classical surgery techniques.

A French Bulldog with oral papillomas (warts) prior to laser surgery.

The same dogs mouth post-laser surgery, showing successful removal of the oral papillomas (warts).

Cryosurgery

Cryotherapy freezes the abnormal area of tissue and in doing so, causes the cells within that target area to die. This is possible since the majority of the cells are made from water. When the water inside the cell is exposed to extreme cold, it freezes and ice crystals form, causing the cell to rupture and die. Additional damage also occurs to the supplying blood vessels and sensory nerves.

Smaller lesions on the face, eyelids, nose, ears, paws and body that are often not considered important enough for surgery under general anaesthetic are ideal for cryotherapy.

The process itself is very simple. In most cases, the target area on your pet’s body will be sprayed with a nitrous oxide gas, whilst normal healthy tissue is left unaffected. The temperature of the nitrous oxide gas will be around -89° causing freezing to occur rapidly. The damage to the cells will not be visible immediately, but over the course of the next week to ten days, the targeted tissue will die and break away.

Most cryotherapy sessions can be conducted in less than 30 minutes. Sometimes multiple sessions are necessary.

Benefits of pet Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy offers both pets and their owners a number of distinct benefits over surgery and other treatment methods. These include the following:

 

  • Minimal discomfort during the procedure since the extreme cold is naturally numbing.
  • A non-invasive procedure that requires no anaesthesia.
  • A safer alternative to surgery for many pets, particularly those who are sensitive and considered geriatric and too high-risk for anaesthetic.
  • The non-invasive nature of cryotherapy enables your pet to make a faster recovery with a lower risk of complications.
  • A cost-effective alternative to surgery.

Phovia Light Therapy

Phovia is a quick and painless treatment option that is performed in clinic to reduce inflammation and promote rapid cell regeneration, making it a useful tool in the management of non-healing wounds. The Phovia system consists of a handheld LED lamp and a specially formulated topical gel. When used together, they form a multi-wavelength light treatment that penetrates the skin at variable depths, triggering different beneficial responses at different levels of the skin to aid in wound resolution.

Sedation is not required.

Phovia Light being used on a patient with a non-healing wound located on the wrist. This patient was relaxed and sat on its dads lap and enjoyed a lick-mat covered in cream cheese whilst the light therapy was performed. No sedation is required and the treatment is painless.

This patient laid on its back and relaxed whilst the owner gently held him. The Phovia was used to treat some non-healing wounds on the chest. No sedation was required.

Microneedling

Microneedling involves the use of a Dermaroller or Dermapen to create tiny punctures on the patient’s skin to stimulate hair regrowth in patients specifically affected by Alopecia X or post-clipping alopecia. The treatment is performed under a general anaesthetic, with recovery involving minimal discomfort and studies showing 90% improvement 12 weeks post-procedure. Microneedling can be combined with platelet-rich plasma application, that is shown to speed up results further.

Haytox

Haytox is an emerging therapy for managing allergic rhinitis symptoms, performed in clinic with no significant downtime, pain, or side effects. The treatment works by blocking receptors in the patient’s airways from detecting environmental allergens, preventing immune system activation and the ensuing allergic response. We perform this procedure by using an aerosolized syringe attachment to apply Botulinum toxin topically (no needles!) to the lining of the nasal cavity. The treatment is quick to administer and take effect, and is repeated on an as-needed basis, with results lasting up to 4-6 weeks.

Dremel for resurfacing paw pads

The Dremel is a handheld rotary tool used to treat hyperkeratosis of the paws. This is when a patient’s paw pads have an overgrowth of keratin and is usually quite uncomfortable. The Dremel procedure works by gently buffing away the excess keratin growths and is performed on a sedated patient to allow precision and a more comfortable experience. Dremeling shows excellent results in controlling symptoms and our patients are further supported with aftercare consisting of a take home softening balm for their paws.
A Bull-Terrier with excessive keratin growing from the paw pads

A Bull-Terrier with excessive keratin growing from the paw pads

The same dog immediately prior to having the dremel procedure performed

The same dog with smooth, non-painful paws pads immediately after the dremel procedure