Specialty – Dermatology
Karen Kuhl, DVM, DACVD
If determining a diagnosis is proving elusive or treatment is not bringing about the desired results, your veterinarian may refer you to our Dermatology Department.
In partnership with Veterinary Specialty Center, our highly trained team is adept at providing advanced and compassionate dermatologic care. We offer expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of animals with benign and malignant disorders of the skin, hair, ears and nails. Additionally, our team has significant training and experience in the management of allergic and immune-mediated skin disease.
We also perform intradermal testing and allergen-specific immunotherapy for atopic dermatitis. Otoscopy is available for chronic ear infections. Biopsies and histopathology may be done if necessary to diagnose a skin condition appropriately.
Our goal is to provide advanced dermatologic care with a focus on the patient’s and client’s quality of life.
How do I prepare my pet for a visit to your Dermatology Department?
When you schedule your dermatology appointment, we will contact your referring veterinarian’s office to obtain a copy of pertinent medical records and laboratory results. If you have any additional information from previous veterinarians, please contact them and have the records faxed or emailed to our office (847-808-8900 or [email protected]).
We request that outpatients have no food for approximately 8 hours prior to the appointment (in case we need to draw blood or perform a procedure which requires sedation or general anesthesia). We also recommend that the owners refrain from bathing their pet for several days prior to the appointment. All medications should be continued as directed by your primary care veterinarian until after we have examined your pet.
Please arrive a few minutes prior to the scheduled appointment to complete a small amount of paperwork. A dermatology history questionnaire may be downloaded from this website to aid us during the first appointment.
What should I expect at the appointment?
At the time of your appointment, one of our staff members will escort you and your pet to the exam room and will take a brief history. After reviewing your pet’s medical history, the doctor will talk to you and perform a dermatologic exam. It may be necessary to perform some laboratory tests during the visit to help determine the next course of action. The doctor will discuss this with you during the visit.
You will receive a printout with specific information about your pet’s visit, tentative diagnosis, directions for medications, home care, procedures or tests recommended and/or handouts with further explanation. Your referring veterinarian will also receive a copy of the printout, along with copies of all diagnostics (lab work) performed. Most recommended medications can be dispensed through our office, though a few medications may need to be obtained through an outside pharmacy. An estimate of costs for procedures, tests or medications may be requested at any time.
Follow up appointments may be scheduled while you are here, or you may call later. You may also reach us by email.
Why didn’t my veterinarian find the problem?
Your veterinarian has worked very hard to try to identify the problem and referring your pet to a specialist is the next step in that process. Dr. Kuhl is board certified in veterinary dermatology, which means she has completed a residency (additional specialized training), done research and published articles, and passed a rigorous exam, to become a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology.
Can my pet’s allergies be cured?
Unfortunately, allergies can be a life-long problem. If the underlying allergy can be identified and removed from the pet’s environment (as in the case of some food allergies), the pet may no longer have bothersome symptoms. If that is not possible, we will discuss options to control the symptoms.
My veterinarian said my dog may have atopic dermatitis – what is that?
Atopic dermatitis is usually caused by allergies presenting with skin and ear issues. The pet’s immune system overreacts to allergens that are normally present in the environment or ingredients in the food. Common environmental allergens include dust, dust mites, pollens [weeds, trees, grasses], molds, feathers and/or wool. This can be present in any breed of dog or cat. Diagnosis is based upon history, distribution of lesions, response to treatment and ruling out other diseases. A food elimination diet can be done to rule in/out food allergens. Allergy tests (blood or intradermal) are used to identify offending environmental allergens, so that allergen-specific immunotherapy (allergy shots) can be prepared to hyposensitize the pet. Medications are also available to treat this process and will be discussed at the visit.
Can my pet be allergic to his/her food?
Absolutely. Pets may develop an allergy to almost any component of their diet, no matter how high-quality the ingredient. It’s more common to have allergies to the protein component, but some animals have allergies to the carbohydrates as well. If this is a concern, we will discuss the appropriate approach to diagnose and deal with this type of issue.
Why does the infection keep coming back?
There may be a predisposing cause for the recurrent infections. Until that cause is diagnosed and addressed, it’s likely that the infection will return. Possible underlying causes may include allergies, endocrine imbalance, autoimmune disease and/or ectoparasites.
What is Cushing’s disease?
Hyperadrenocorticism, also called Cushing’s disease, is caused by overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal gland. Symptoms range from recurrent infections and decreased muscle mass, to frequent urination and excessive water intake. Laboratory tests are needed to confirm the disease, but medical or surgical treatment options are available depending upon the type of hyperadrenocorticism present.