Pet Dermatology

Skin diseases in pets are common and can greatly affect quality of life. Scratching, chewing, and licking are common signs of a dermatologic issue and treatment can sometimes be very challenging. Our dermatology service is here to help! We will work closely with your primary veterinarian to not just relieve the signs, but get to the root of the problem and find the best long-term management plan for you and your pet.

Our board-certified veterinary dermatologist, Dr. Heather Edginton, has had years of experience in treating some of the most difficult dermatological cases, providing relief and quality of life to pets. With her advanced knowledge of veterinary dermatology, she is a perfect choice for families with pets who have been suffering from chronic allergies, ear infections, hair loss and much more!

Heather Edginton, DVM, Diplomate ACVD

Heather Edginton, DVM, Diplomate ACVD

Dr. Heather Edginton is a board-certified veterinary Dermatologist.

Born and raised in Pasadena, California, Dr. Edginton was originally a Psychology major and obtained her Psychology Degree from Cal State Long Beach.

However, something was missing in her life and she couldn’t shake the feeling that she needed to work with animals. Dr. Edginton decided to change her major, attending Cornell University to study veterinary medicine. She earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2011 where she discovered her passion for veterinary dermatology.

Dr. Edginton began her residency at Cornell University to work on getting her board-certification in dermatology, which she completed in 2014. Her specialty interests include management of allergic skin disease, immune-mediated/autoimmune skin diseases, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Dr. Edginton is excited to be in the Pacific Northwest as she loves the rain and season changes. When not practicing veterinary Dermatology and walking in the rain, she also enjoys spending time with her 2 cats, Merle and Diana, who have been with her throughout veterinary school. She also has a love for the arts and has earned certificates in interior design, Feng Shui and baking. She is currently working on a personal style certification as well.

 

Types of Cases

 

The Dermatology service focuses on diagnosing and treating:

Allergies

Just like people, pets can be affected by allergies too! Scratching, hair loss (alopecia) and hot spots are signs that your pet may have a potential allergy issue. Typically, allergies in dogs and cats are from fleas, food, or an outside substance like grass, pollen, mold, or even humans! The Animal Medical Center of Seattle’s dermatology team can help with diagnostic testing to determine what type of allergy your pet is suffering from and tailor a treatment plan to their specific needs.

Fungal skin disease

The most common fungal infections that occur in cats and dogs are yeast dermatitis (most often Malassezia) and ringworm. Yeast dermatitis can cause not just issues with the skin, but ear infections too. Yeast overgrowth can be extremely itchy and is particularly problematic in skin folds, such as between the toes or armpits. Yeast is normal to find on the skin, but an overgrowth can occur as a reaction to hormone imbalances or allergies, and cause an infection.

Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is a fungal infection of the skin that causes circular areas of hair loss. Ringworm is zoonotic, which means it can be transferred to people from pets (and vice versa). Because of this, it is important to seek treatment right away from a veterinarian to prevent spreading the infection. Once infected, ringworm will typically cause hair loss, itching, crusting and scaling of the skin. Our dermatology services can help identify a fungal infection and get your pet on a treatment plan that will help them find relief!

Skin disease associated with endocrine and metabolic disorders

Diseases of the internal organs and hormone secreting glands of the endocrine system can also affect your pets’ skin and fur, and are sometimes the first sign of an internal issue. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals and systemic diseases (such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease/ hyperadrenocorticism) can cause dermatological issues in your pet. Whatever the underlying issue, our dermatology team will work hard to provide relief for your pet.

Pigmentary disorders

Pigmentary disorders in pets can be hereditary or can develop secondary to autoimmune disorders, skin cancer, inflammation or even an adverse reaction to medication. When your pet has a pigmentary disorder, it is due to an increased or decreased production of their melanin. Because there are so many different possibilities that cause pigment changes in your pet, treatment by your veterinarian or our dermatologist will depend on the underlying cause.

Claw and claw bed diseases

Your pets’ claws are a continuation of the epidermal (top) and dermal (bottom) layers of skin and include their “fingertips” and nail bed. Pets claws are susceptible to many different conditions, including infection, trauma, malnutrition, allergies or even cancer. They can be a primary disorder, or a sign that there is a larger systemic issue. Some signs that warrant a visit to your veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist are discolored, brittle or bleeding claws and limping, licking or biting at their paws.

Bacterial skin disease

Pyoderma (bacterial skin infection) can be caused by a variety of different types of bacteria. These infections can cause itching, crusting, scaling, redness, pimples, and discoloration of the skin. Most cases require the underlying cause of the infection, such as allergies or an autoimmune disease, to be identified and addressed or the infection will reoccur. Bacteria can also be antibiotic-resistant and your pet may need specialized care from a veterinary dermatologist to help come up with treatment options for your pet.

Parasitic skin disease

Skin parasites (ectoparasites), such as ticks, fleas and mites, can be extremely irritating to your pet and can cause bacterial infections and allergic reactions. External parasites can also carry diseases that can be potentially life threatening. Scratching caused by fleas can lead to skin infections and pets can develop an allergy to their saliva, making them scratch even more. In severe cases, a flea infestation can cause anemia (decreased red blood cells). A tick infestation can also cause anemia in your pets in large numbers and can spread Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and cause tick paralysis.

Mites, such as Demodex sp., Sarcoptes scabiei (scabies) and ear mites, can also affect your pet. Sarcoptes scabiei mite infestations result in mange and cause hair loss and severe itching. Sarcoptic mange is zoonotic and highly contagious. Demodectic mange (Demodex) is more common in dogs and rarely seen in cats. Unlike Sarcoptic mange, Demodex is normally found in small numbers within the hair follicles of all species. However, when the immune systems is suppressed, these mites can overgrow and cause skin lesions. Our specialty veterinary hospital is equipped to help prevent and treat all types of parasitic skin diseases and work with your primary veterinarian to ensure your pet stays ectoparasite free.

Hair loss (alopecia)

External parasites (mites, fleas and ticks), allergies, skin infections, malnutrition, skin cancer and disorders of the endocrine system: all of these issues can cause hair loss (alopecia) in cats and dogs. It is very important to have your pet examined by your veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist to get to the root of the problem and find the most appropriate treatment plan.

Congenital and hereditary disorders

There are numerous congenital and hereditary skin disorders that affect cats and dogs and treatment depends on a variety of factors. Some inherited skin disorders, such as dermatomyositis, may need to be managed for their entire lives, and others, like juvenile pyoderma (puppy strangles) can be treated and cured with oral medications. Albinism is an example of a pigment disorder that is inherited and associated with sun damage and skin cancer in pets, so medical management would require keeping that pet indoors as much as possible to avoid sun exposure. We are here to help your pet no matter how difficult it may be to treat or manage!

Ear disease

A veterinary dermatologist is an expert in diagnosing and treating skin diseases, including diseases of the ears! Ear infections of the outer and inner ear, allergies, parasites, foreign bodies and trauma can all be diagnosed and treated by our board-certified dermatologist, providing relief to your pet. Chronic ear infections are a very common ailment in pets and are not only frustrating and painful, but can lead to irreversible damage to the delicate organs of the ear. If you notice your pet head shaking, pawing at the ear, odor, discharge, redness, swelling and crusty or scabbed ears, it’s time to get them to your veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist to determine the underlying cause and begin treatment as soon as possible.
 

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