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Skin and Ear Assessments

Pittwater Animal Hospital commonly treats pets with itchy, smelly and inflamed skin. Treating skin and ear problems can be very difficult as they commonly recur. This can be very frustrating for the pet owner. Our vets try to guide you as to how to improve a skin or ear problem then very importantly, set up a plan to maintain healthy skin and ears for your pets.

In the past, most of the skin problems we treated were related to fleas and ticks. Thankfully there are new,extremely effective parasite controls. These have significantly reduced our levels of parasitic skin disease.  However, in our warm, moist environment dogs and cats are very susceptible to allergic, bacterial and fungal ear and skin disorders.

Treatment of an ear or skin problem really relies on investigating what is happening on the skin or in the ear at a microscopic level. All our veterinarians are well trained in ear and skin disorders and can interpret microscopic changes.

Your veterinarian will often talk about secondary infections. This is when unhealthy skin or ears become colonized with organisms that make the situation much more itchy and inflamed. In extreme situations inflammatory cells will flood to the surface. This flood of neutrophils is called pus. It is responsible for much of the smell of infected skin or ears.

Microscopical we can detect a range of things happening at the skin level.

Discharges on the skin layer may contain 1000s of neutrophils. This is an indication of pus.
Ear smears may show bacteria. These microscopic rods shaped bacteria can be very difficult to treat.
Ear smears often contain the yeast malassezia. They have a distinctive peanut shape.
Mixed bacteria and neutrophils from a skin infection indicates antibacterial treatment is needed.
Brown pollen spores are commonly found on allergic feet. Note the peanut shaped yeast just above it.
Microscopic ticks can cause intense skin irritations.

Some conditions do however need samples to be sent to an external laboratory. This is to isolate the organisms causing disease or to look at a sample of skin to understand the problems behind the disease.

Acute ear and skin disorders need to be very intensively managed. Your veterinarian will have the expertise to prescribe appropriate antibiotics, antifungals and/or anti-itching medications.

A thorough investigation of ear and skin disorders, followed up with a maintenance plan is really helpful in stopping problems returning. Our veterinarians can guide you to care for you pet’s skin and ear disorders, but scheduled rechecks are essential to get the best outcomes.

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Malassezia (seen above) is a common yeast that causes itching and inflammation.