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Compendium November 2009 (Vol 31, No 11)

Editorial — The Current and Future States of Veterinary Dermatology

by Wayne S. Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD, Craig E. Griffin, DVM, DACVD

    After almost 30 years of actively practicing veterinary dermatology and being involved with clinical research and continuing education (CE), we are more inspired and excited about the specialty than ever. When we started our careers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the number of recognized skin diseases was limited; now, more than 460 varieties of skin disease are recognized.1,a We have seen the number of American College of Veterinary Dermatology diplomates grow from just around a dozen to its current total of 212. And we continue to be amazed at the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic tools, such as video otoscopes and cyclosporine, which have improved our ability to manage many common problems.

    Many surveys have found that dermatology cases are the most common presenting complaints seen in small animal practice.2-4 A February 2009 Veterinary Pet Insurance press release reported that ear infections, skin allergies, and pyoderma were the top three canine claims in the United States for the year 2008.5 Based on our opportunities to consult in a variety of geographic regions, we would agree.

    Knowledge about veterinary dermatology is expanding worldwide, through meetings such as the annual 3-day North American Veterinary Dermatology Forum, the Annual Congress of the European Society and College of Veterinary Dermatology, and the World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology, which meets every 4 years and is the result of interaction between international dermatology specialty groups. These meetings allow study results, descriptions of new diseases or therapies, and new information about recognized diseases or therapies to be presented to a wider audience.

    Academia, private practice, and industry have all contributed to the growth of, and increased interest in, veterinary dermatology. Advances in diagnostics and therapeutics have benefited specialists and general practitioners alike in helping manage the most common presenting skin and ear problems. Clients are demanding higher levels of care and often actively pursue advanced diagnostic testing and therapeutic options. In order to remain current, practitioners need to take advantage of CE seminars and the valuable information published in the veterinary literature.

    The following are a few of the recent developments in veterinary dermatology:

    • Advances in the understanding of canine atopic dermatitis. Once believed to be an inhaled type 1 allergy, this condition is now known to be a complex reaction to allergens that may be percutaneous, inhaled, or ingested. Genetic predispositions to altered immunologic reactivity, as well as skin changes, predispose patients to the clinical manifestations. This knowledge is opening up new avenues for treatment and, hopefully, prevention of this common problem.
    • Increased accessibility to in vitro allergy testing for atopic dermatitis, which has resulted in more pets receiving allergen-specific immuno-therapy.
    • Advances in dermatopathology and immunohistopathology as tools for diagnosing and understanding disease pathogenesis, thereby promoting the development of improvedtherapeutic and management techniques.
    • Use of lasers in a variety of therapeutic modalities for inflammatory and neoplastic skin diseases.
    • New pharmacologic agents, including systemic and topical parasiticides, antimicrobials, and topical therapeutics with improved delivery systems.
    • Greater understanding of the role of nutrition in skin structure, function, and disease, which has led to improved dietary options for managing many dermatologic problems.
    • Greater understanding of the pathogenesis and management of feline and equine skin diseases.

    The adage "as long as you can use glucocorticoids, you can be a veterinary dermatologist" has never been further from the truth. In reality, veterinary dermatologists specialize in how to avoid or decrease systemic glucocorticoid use. We encourage all general practitioners to attend CE meetings and stay current with the veterinary literature to be kept up-to-date with this amazing, ever-expanding specialty.

    Downloadable PDF

    1. Scott DW, Miller WH, Griffin CE. Small Animal Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2001.

    2. Ralston Purina Company. An Introduction to the Nutrition of Dogs and Cats. Trenton, NJ: Veterinary Learning Systems; 1989.

    3. Alpo Veterinary Panel. Dermatological problems head problem list. DVM Magazine August 1985.

    4. Scott DW, Paradis M. A survey of canine and feline skin disorders seen in a university practice: Small Animal Clinic, University of Montreal, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec (1987-1988). Can Vet J 1990;31:830.

    5. Veterinary Pet Insurance. Sick as a dog: pets' top medical conditions of 2008 [press release]. Accessed October 2009 at http://press.petinsurance.com/pressroom/266.aspx.

    aHill P. Personal communication. Veterinary Specialist Centre, Sydney, Australia; 2009.

    References »

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