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.