Animal Allergy and Dermatology Specialists offers a comprehensive range of dermatological diagnostic tests and procedures.
Intradermal allergy testing (IDT) is similar to scratch testing performed in humans. Your dog is sedated for this test. An area on your dog is shaved to allow access to the skin. Approximately 70 different potential allergens are injected intradermally at individual sites. These allergens include both indoor allergens such as dust mites and cotton and outdoor allergens such as grass and weed pollens. This test cannot accurately test for food allergens in the dog or cat. If your pet is allergic to an allergen a red wheal or bump will form at the site.
Once the test is complete, Dr. Trimmer will review the results with you and formulate a treatment plan. There are several medications that your pet cannot be taking when this test is performed. Prior to discontinuing any medication discuss it with your family veterinarian.
Serum allergy testing is another type of allergy testing. This test requires a blood sample be drawn from your pet. Then the blood sample is submitted to a special allergy lab that tests the antibodies in the blood for reactions to certain allergens. The results from this test generally take 7-21 days to be returned to the doctor. No medications need to be discontinued prior to this method of testing.
Cytology is the examination of a sample of the cells from your pet’s skin under the microscope. This sample is obtained in different ways depending upon what the doctor wants to examine. At AADS, most commonly the doctor will press a glass slide against your pet’s skin. This will transfer some of the skin cells, inflammatory cells and possibly bacteria or yeast from the skin to the slide. The doctor then stains the slide to make certain cells become more visible and examines the slide under the microscope. This test helps Dr. Trimmer evaluate infections and changes in the skin at a superficial level. The skin is constantly changing and thus this test may reveal different results at different times.
Skin scraping helps the doctor look for external parasites or mites and yeast on your pet’s skin. Most commonly at AADS we perform this test to look for mites. Many of these mites are not contagious to people or other animals so do not become alarmed if your doctor recommends this test. This test is performed by pinching a small area of skin and then scraping it with a sharp instrument just until the skin bleeds. Then the cells, hairs and debris are placed on a slide and examined under the microscope.
Skin biopsies are also performed at AADS on a routine basis. Often times a biopsy can provide a glimpse into the deeper layers of the skin that we cannot see with our eyes or the above tests. A biopsy can help us determine if there is a problem with the way the hair is growing or if there is an abnormality in the way the layers of the skin are growing. A biopsy cannot usually tell us if your pet is allergic to a specific tree or food but it can help to determine if your pet has allergies or an autoimmune disease. To perform a biopsy often just a local anesthetic is needed. An area about the size of an eraser on the top of a pencil is chosen and a local anesthetic is injected into that area. Once the area is numb, a circular scalpel blade is used to cut the piece of skin. The incision is then closed with a suture and the biopsy sample is sent to a pathologist to examine under the microscope. The pathologist specializes in skin diseases. The changes that are present are often subtle and using the right pathologist is very important. The sutures from the biopsy generally need to be removed in 5-14 days. A biopsy can take anywhere from 3-14 days for the results to return. Sometimes special stains are performed on the sample to look for bacteria, fungal infections or cancers.
Bacterial skin or ear cultures are often necessary when your pet has an infection. A bacterial culture is obtained by sampling the pus or debris from the skin or ear with a sterile swab. This sample is then sent to a special lab that grows the bacteria and then tests it to different antibiotics. These tests can help us pinpoint which antibiotics to use in treating your pet’s infections.
Fungal cultures are necessary to determine if a fungus has invaded the hairs and skin to cause an infection. These cultures are easy to perform but sometimes difficult to grow. A fungal culture is performed by plucking several hairs and placing them in a special growth medium to encourage the fungus to grow. These cultures typically take 7-21 days for results to come back.
Video otoscopy is the use of a special camera mounted in an otoscope cone to view the inside of your pet’s ear canal. This allows the doctor to examine your pet’s ear more closely. To learn more about this please see Ear specialty services.
Dr Trimmer and Brie performing a sedated video otoscopy and laser surgery