FAQ

Have a question? Our veterinary dermatologists have answers! See below for our frequently asked questions. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, please don’t hesitate to contact our team directly. We’ll be happy to help.

What should I expect during my first appointment?

You can expect a discussion about the history of your pet and their presenting clinical signs. The doctor will perform a very detailed skin and ear exam and show you pertinent findings. We will provide you with initial thoughts and a financial estimate for diagnostics and treatments. For an initial consultation, plan to be in the office for 50-90 minutes. If your pet needs advanced testing, procedures, or treatments, you may leave your pet and return later in the day if necessary. We can also schedule these add-on services at a future date with no additional exam fee. Video otoscopy and intradermal tests may or may not be performed on an initial appointment.

Do I need to have a follow-up appointment?

The majority of the diseases we treat are chronic or recurrent conditions. Sometimes, multiple rechecks will be required to get you and your pet on track. Through treatments and client education, we hope to achieve the highest quality of life and medicine for our patients. Recheck examinations can vary in length from 20 to 45 minutes.

Does the pet’s primary caregiver have to be in the clinic for appointments?
No, someone else may bring your pet into the clinic, but it is very helpful when the primary caregiver is present or available by phone when discussing your pet’s health history. If you cannot be present, please try to be available for a phone call during the appointment as the doctor may need to speak with you.
How often should my pet follow up?

Follow up will be recommended on an individual basis based on disease and treatments. Some patients will only need one visit. Others patients may require yearly visits, while others may need visits every week to two weeks for three to six weeks.

Why do you have to repeat the same diagnostic test like a cytology or skin scrape that my primary veterinarian has already performed?

Cytologic findings can change within days on an individual pet. Technique and site selection is some of the key skills that veterinary dermatologists must learn during their residency training.

What are symptoms of environmental allergies in pets?

Itching, licking, scratching, chewing, inflammation, red skin, conjunctivitis, self-induced hair loss, and sneezing are common symptoms of environmental allergies. Other symptoms include bacterial infections of the skin, paws, and ears, as well as yeast infections of the paws, nail beds, and ears.

What are allergy shots?

Allergy shots (allergy-specific immunotherapy) are regular shots you give to your pet over a pet’s lifetime to reduce or eliminate their allergies. Each allergy shot contains small amounts of what your pet is allergic to and stimulates an immune response. Allergy shots train your pet’s immune system to avoid an inappropriate hyperactive response. Once your pet’s immune system gains a tolerance to the environmental allergens, their clinical signs of itching, licking, scratching, and infections will reduce or vanish. Immunotherapy is custom-made for each individual pet and is the safest long-term treatment for environmental allergies. With time, it can even lead to a cure in select cases. While this treatment does not provide an overnight cure, it can provide the majority of pet’s significant relief from their allergies over time.

How long does it take for allergy shots or drops to work?

Allergy shots typically start working in three to eight months. However, there are some cases that respond sooner and others that can take 12 to 14 months. There are also some cases, due to many complicated factors, that do not respond to immunotherapy.

I am nervous about giving my pet allergy shots. Is there another way to give allergy serum?
Yes! We also offer intra-lymphatic immunotherapy injections, which allow for a once-a-month injection at our clinic.
Can dogs and cats be allergic to humans?

Yes! Just like humans with canine or feline dander allergies, the reverse can happen, and our pets can be allergic to us. Allergy immunotherapy is the only way for a human allergic pet to gain tolerance to their owner’s dander.

What are the most common signs of food allergies in my pet?

When dogs and cats have food allergies, the majority are pruritic (itching, scratching, chewing, scooting, rubbing, and licking themselves and other objects). Half of dogs will have generalized full body itching, while half of cats will scratch their face/head or neck. Any part of the body can be itchy in a dog or cat with food allergy. Other symptoms include bacterial skin infections, ear infections, eosinophilic granuloma complex, skin redness, inflammation, and hives or urticaria. Non-skin related signs include frequent and recurrent diarrhea, vomiting, multiple bowel movements per day, increased flatulence, increased borborygmi (gut noise or stomach growling), conjunctivitis, and, even rarely, sneezing.

What is a food allergy trial or diet trial?

A food allergy trial is done by removing all diets and treats that may be causing your pet’s allergic response. It is best to perform a diet trial with a nutritionally balanced novel protein or hydrolyzed diet made for pets with food allergies. Currently, the very best way to diagnose a pet with food allergy is with a novel protein diet trial and then subsequent challenge of that new diet.

What are the most common food allergies in pets?

Based upon the recent available literature written by experts in our field, the most common foods in dogs that lead to food allergy reactions are beef, dairy, chicken, and lamb. For cats, the leading food allergy reactions are from beef, fish, and chicken.

I have changed my pet’s diet using multiple store-bought diets. Why do I need to do a diet trial?

Frequently, we see our clients attempt multiple diet changes with over-the-counter diets. If your pet has a true allergy, over-the-counter diets will likely not resolve their allergies. There are also concerns that the many available minimally-regulated pet foods might contain unlabeled food sources that could negate your attempt of a diet change for your allergic pet. An unknown ingredient within an over-the-counter pet diet can lead to allergic reactions in your pet. Think about this the same way you would think about a person with a peanut allergy. Commonly, pet food is processed in a facility where many diets are made using the same machines just like many candy bars are made in facility where nuts are present. Though the candy bar does not have nuts added in, there is a label that warns of the potential that peanut residue could have contaminated the candy bar. In the pet food industry, there are minimal regulations and requirements for this to be written on a pet food label.

Here is an example of how this could play out:

You identified that your pet gets itchy, ear infections, and a red belly after feeding them chicken, so for years, you have fed them an over-the-counter fish-based diet. Recently, your pet’s fish diet goes on back order and you switch to a new fish-based diet. Unbeknownst to you, this new diet has unlabeled chicken in it due to the way the food is processed. Within the week, your pet is itchy, has ear infections, and their belly is red.

The same scenario can play out for years. Despite their owner’s best attempt to avoid certain foods, a small amount can slip in, leading to years of suffering.

I would like the best and most detailed information on pets with food allergies.
I have fed my pet a grain-free diet, and they did not improve. Why should I do another diet trial?
Proteins are the most common cause of food allergies, not grains. This is due to the fact that proteins have a larger molecular size and are more likely to be recognized by a hyperactive immune system.
I performed a blood/hair/saliva food allergy test on my pet, and I am not seeing any improvement. Why is that?

Food allergies are very complex. Currently, there is no accurate test to diagnose food allergies.
Here is a link: https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-1142-0

Should I bathe or clean my pet’s ears before seeing the veterinarian?

We ask you to not bathe or clean your pet’s ears or apply ear topical medications one week before your first consultation or if it has been six months since your previous exam and there are new problems that need to be addressed.

Will coconut oil help clear up my pet’s itchy skin?

It is highly unlikely, and in some cases, it may fuel your pet’s disease or lead to other health issues. For years, we have had clients report they tried adding coconut oil to their pet’s diet, applied it into ears, or directly onto skin. While most reports from clients report little clinical benefit, some report worsening of skin or ear issues. With oral application, due to the high level of fat in coconut oil, weight gain and pancreatitis are possible with excess use. When coconut oil is used topically in the ears and on their skin, there can be little benefit or worsening, likely due to the many cases of Malassezia (yeast) infections we see in veterinary dermatology. Yeast love fat! Yeast eats oil to survive. They enjoy the high concentrations of triglycerides found in coconut oil. Thus, placing coconut oil on your dog’s skin or in their ears can fuel the common yeast infections we see secondarily in our allergic pets.

Can I give my pet CBD oil for their skin disease?

CBD or cannabidiol is an extract from cannabis. CBD is touted for its endless human health benefits with ever expanding research. Currently, there are studies underway to evaluate CBD in dogs with atopic dermatitis, but as of now, there is no information. There is a study in dogs with arthritis that showed some benefit from the CBD. Another study of the use of CBD in dogs with epilepsy failed to show a reduction in seizure frequency compared to placebo. Currently, there is no information on cats given CBD.

What is your cancellation policy?

The initial consultation fee is required to be paid upfront upon appointment booking. Your fee/deposit will be used as a no-show fee should you not reschedule or cancel your appointment at least 24 hours in advance. If you choose to cancel your appointment and do not wish to reschedule, you must contact us at least 24 hours prior to your scheduled appointment time in order to receive a full refund. For Monday appointments, we require notification by 12PM the Friday before your scheduled appointment.

A 15 minute grace period is granted for each appointment time. Arriving past this grace period may forfeit the appointment time and your appointment may be canceled.

For exams, your appointment must be canceled 24 hours prior to your pet’s exam (Monday exams must be cancelled by 12:00 pm on the Friday before the appointment). Failure to cancel ahead of time will result in a $50 cancellation fee.