Animal Dermatology Clinic

_DSC4301 We are a specialist dermatology and ear facility in Western Australia providing advanced care for animals with skin and ear disease such as allergic, immune mediated and hormonal skin diseases.

We are committed to providing you and your animal companions with compassion and respect while utilising the latest knowledge and best technology that veterinary dermatology has to offer.

The Animal Dermatology Clinic can allergy test and desensitize dogs and cats against pollen and dust allergies and we can desensitize your pet against life threatening bee and wasp stings.

We also diagnose and manage dogs and cats with recurrent severe ear infections.

To make an appointment at the Animal Dermatology Clinic please call the dermatology nurses 9204 0400. Please have your pet’s regular vet complete a referral form which you can bring with you to your appointment or your vet can email or fax to us directly.

Please complete a questionnaire regarding your pet, this is very helpful as part of the diagnostic process. You can either email/fax back the completed form or bring with you to your scheduled appointment.

Immune Mediated Skin Disease

There are many different immune-mediated skin diseases that can affect dogs and cats. In many cases the clinical signs are severe. In order to treat such diseases, we need to suppress the immune system to bring the disease into remission. The immune system plays a vital role in the normal protective mechanism of the body. We therefore need to achieve a balance between suppressing the immune system sufficiently to control the disease and not suppress it too much to prevent the normal immunity against infection. A decision to use immunosuppressive therapy is made because the effects of the disease the pet has been diagnosed with are more severe than the potential adverse effects of the drugs.

As many immune-mediated diseases have similar clinical signs, a diagnosis of the disease is important and this is usually obtained through skin biopsy and histopathology evaluation by a specialist veterinary pathologist. A treatment plan is formulated by the veterinary dermatologist that will involve close monitoring of the disease to achieve remission while ensuring there are no adverse effects to the selected drugs. This will achieve the required balance of suppression of the disease process while maintaining your pets health.

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Bee and wasp desensitization

Bees and wasps can cause life-threatening reactions in humans and animals.

The symptoms of allergic reactions to stings can vary in dogs and range from generalised flushing, itching, redness, diffuse swelling (oedema) of the skin especially of the face or throat (larynx) or urticaria (hives), abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, faintness, blurring or loss of vision, respiratory difficulties (bronchospasm), seizures, respiratory or cardiac arrest and death. Systemic reactions can occur within seconds or minutes of the sting.

In cases where a life-threatening allergic reaction has occurred following a sting or envenomation, diagnosis by allergy testing and venom immunotherapy are strongly recommended.

In humans and veterinary medicine venom immunotherapy is an extremely effective treatment for preventing future reactions to stings. The Animal Dermatology Clinic has the facilities for both allergy testing and desensitization for bees and wasps.

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Ear infections

The Animal Dermatology Clinic provides advanced care for any case of acute, chronic or refractory ear disease with resistant bacterial infection or middle ear infection as well as tumours and polyps in the ear.

We can perform specialised procedures such as a myringotomy or biopsy sampling of an underlying tumour or polyp in the external or middle ear using the video-otoendoscope.

If required evaluation of the middle and external ear can be performed with imaging techniques such as a CT scan.

What is video oto-endoscopy?

Video otoscopy is performed using an oto-endoscope, camera, light source and monitor.

The otoscope is attached to a miniature video camera which allows a brightly illuminated and magnified view of the inside of the external ear canal and ear drum and also permits flushing of the middle ear if the dog has middle ear infection.

While the patient is anaesthetised the ears can be flushed, foreign objects, debris or parasites may be retrieved with grasping forceps. Biopsies samples obtained with biopsy forceps and a myringotomy (obtaining a sample from the middle ear through the ear drum) can also be performed when required.

With an attachable dual port adaptor, suction and saline may be used simultaneously to completely clean the ear. This equipment allows us to thoroughly assess and treat chronic and difficult ear infections.

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Allergic skin disease

Allergy is a common cause of skin disease causing itchiness in dogs and cats. Atopic skin disease is one common type of allergy and a reaction by an individual animal to environmental aeroallergens such as pollens from grasses, weeds, trees, mould spores and house dust mite.

An adverse food reaction is a reaction by an individual to a particular food substance. The most common causes of adverse food reactions in dogs are caused by proteins and carbohydrates such as beef, mutton, chicken, wheat, corn, soy, dairy foods and eggs.

The most common causes of adverse food reactions in cats are fish, beef and dairy products.

Symptoms of allergy

  • The most common clinical sign of allergy is itching, most commonly involving the muzzle, around the eyes, ear flaps, armpits, groin and paws. Some dogs may have recurrent ear infections.
  • As a result of chewing, licking, rubbing and scratching the skin becomes inflamed and prone to secondary infections with bacteria and yeast. In dogs with chronic disease there is often hair loss and the skin becomes thickened, scaly and black.
  • The hair coat may feel greasy and be associated with an offensive odour. Occasionally dogs and cats with adverse food reactions may have loose stools or diarrhoea.

Diagnosing allergic skin disease

Intradermal allergy test:

  • The best way to identify a specific allergy to pollen, dust, mould or insects is to perform an intradermal allergy test.
  • This involves clipping a patch of hair from the side of the flank and pricking the skin with a tiny amount of purified allergen extract. A positive reaction is a raised swelling observed thirty minutes after intradermal injection.
  • The skin test is affected by a number of drugs including antihistamines and corticosteroids. As all cortisone tablets, injections, lotions, eye and ear drops interfere with the skin test, it is important that your pet is withdrawn from treatment prior to testing.

Serological (blood) allergy testing:

  • We perform serological (blood) allergy testing in dogs with pollen, mould and dust allergies in conjunction with skin testing.
  • We believe that by combining the results of the skin and serological testing that we can develop the most optimal allergy profile for your pet. This increases our chances of successful vaccine immunotherapy (desensitization).

Skin and blood testing are not useful for the diagnosis of adverse food reactions in dogs and cats. The diagnosis is made by an elimination diet trial which involves feeding a protein and/or carbohydrate source that your pet has not received before for a period of six weeks. The choice of diet is very important and the veterinary dermatologist can guide you with the appropriate diet selection.

Allergy treatments

There are several different ways allergy can be managed in order to keep your dog or cat comfortable.

Allergen specific immunotherapy with an allergy vaccine is the preferred method of treatment for canine and feline atopic dermatitis and involves using a vaccine that is made specifically for your pet on the basis of the skin and serum allergy test results.

It is important to remember that improvement with allergy vaccines is gradual with obvious benefit taking between six to twelve months to appear.

Dogs and cats with adverse food reactions must receive a modified special diet.

How successful are allergy vaccines?

Allergy vaccines are successful in approximately 70% of dogs and cats with environmental allergic skin disease.

The vaccine needs to be used for 12 months before we can evaluate whether is has been successful in reducing the itching.

If a dog or cat responds to the allergy vaccine then it will need to continue the vaccine for between three to five years. Some dogs and cats require allergy vaccine for a lifetime.

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Our Team

Tahlia Byrne|RVN

Dr Fiona Scholz|BSc BVMS MANZCVS (Small Animal Medicine) DipACVD FANZCVS

Dr Fiona Scholz is the managing dermatologist at the Animal Dermatologic Clinic in Osborne Park. Fiona is a board-certified dermatologist. She is also a Perth native and completed her Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery from Murdoch University in 2011. After graduation, Fiona was awarded an internship and spent the year training in both Internal Medicine and Oncology at Perth Veterinary Specialists. Fiona commenced her training with Animal Dermatology Clinic and completed dual 3-year residency programs in the both the USA and Australia that concluded in 2017. This meant that she consulted and trained between Animal Dermatology Clinics in both California and Western Australia. Throughout her time with Animal Dermatology Clinic Fiona has also taught the final year veterinary students at Murdoch University on their Dermatology Rotation. Fiona is also a Member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientist in Small Animal Internal Medicine after successfully completing her exams in 2016.

Her disciplinary interests include feline atopic dermatitis, otitis externa and non-healing wounds. She has completed and published research on feline intradermal allergy testing.

In her spare time Fiona enjoys supporting Wembley Amateur Football Club, swimming at Rottnest Island and taking care of her Curly Coated Retriever ‘Olive’ and naughty moggie ‘Evie’.

Ms Karla Ramsden|Registered Veterinary Nurse, Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing, Certificate 2 in Animal nursing assistant, Diploma of Management

Karla is currently the most senior nurse in our full  time veterinary nursing team with a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing from the United Kingdom. She has been working with the Skin, Allergy and Ear Clinic since 2009. Karla is the major liaison between clients and clinicians allowing our clients efficient access to our service. She provides quality patient care and assists with dermatological procedures including allergy testing, oto-endoscopy, immunotherapy, appointment scheduling and patient follow up. She performs the hearing testing (BAER) testing for the Skin, Allergy and Ear Clinic.

Lorelei Stewart (LJ)|RVN

Lorelei (LJ) is a graduate of the National College of Veterinary Nurses and joins us with a history of accomplishment in general practice. LJ is a senior member of the nursing team at our Osborne Park Clinic. Originally from the UK, LJ has been with the Animal Dermatology Clinic since 2012.

She provides quality patient care and assists with dermatological procedures including allergy testing, oto-endoscopy, immunotherapy, appointment scheduling and patient follow up.

A self-confessed cat lover, she lives at home with her cats “Alfie” and “Leroy”.