Management of Skin Allergies
Allergies are a chronic disease that can affect many pets and indirectly their owners. There are many treatment options including medications to cover up allergy symptoms, such as antihistamines, steroids, Atopica®, Apoquel®, and Cytopoint®. An alternative to these medications is allergy specific immunotherapy or sublingual immunotherapy, which alters the body’s immune system, and makes it more tolerant to any offending pollens or allergens.

At Coastal Virginia Veterinary Dermatology, our goal is to help owners determine what the best treatment option is for their pet, and to help with the trials and tribulations of managing allergies.

Intradermal Allergy Testing

Intradermal allergy testing (or skin testing) is considered the “gold standard” for identification of environmental pollens which are affecting the allergy patient.  During intradermal allergy testing, patients are sedated for their comfort, and a patch of hair is shaved on their side.  We then inject them with multiple allergens which are common to the Hampton Roads area to determine if they are affecting your pet. 

With this information, allergy specific immunotherapy (ASIT) or sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) can be utilized.  In most cases, ASIT and SLIT are the best and safest long-term treatment options for patients with environmental allergies.

Skin testing does not evaluate your pet for food allergies.  The only true way to determine a food allergy is through a strict diet trial.  Blood tests for food allergies are often unreliable, with false negative and false positive results.

Resistant Bacterial Infections

Bacterial resistance has become an emerging problem for both humans and our companion animals.  At Coastal Virginia Veterinary Dermatology, we specialize in diagnosis and treatment of resistant bacterial infections with oral and topical medications.  Most resistant infections require a bacterial culture for identification.  A culture can be performed using a sterile swab to gently rub the affected areas, and then sent to the laboratory.  This procedure is painless and completely noninvasive. However, in some cases, a deeper sample may be required through a skin biopsy.

Fungal Infections

There are many types of fungal infections which can affect our pets.  The most common types are superficial fungal infections such as a yeast overgrowth (Malassezia) or ringworm (dermatophytosis).  These infections are easily treatable with medication and topical therapies.  Deeper fungal infections such as blastomycosis, cryptococcosis, and sporotrichosis can occur, however, these are luckily very rare in our area.  Identification of these types of fungal infections can be difficult, and treatment can span many months to years in severe cases.

Chronic Otitis

Ear infections can have many causes including: allergies, foreign material, masses, or middle ear infections.  Each are treated very differently, but all present in a similar fashion.  Identification of the underlying cause is essential for successful treatment. 

If ear infections are present for a long period of time, it can lead to chronic changes of the ear canal which are generally permanent. “End stage” ear disease may require surgery to reach a cure.  Our main goal is to determine the underlying cause to prevent these permanent changes and avoid surgical intervention whenever possible. 

Skin Biopsy

This procedure allows us a better view of what is happening to the skin, which cannot be seen with our eyes alone. A skin biopsy can be required for diagnosis of autoimmune diseases, vascular changes, neoplasia, and in rare cases, deep bacterial or fungal infections. 

For this procedure, your pet may be sedated depending on the location of the skin biopsy. A local anesthetic is injected prior to sampling of the skin.  Small tissue samples are then submitted to a specialty-trained pathologist who has received extra training in dermatology.  Sutures are placed at the biopsy site which will need to be removed in 10-14 days.  Biopsy results take approximately two week to return.

Autoimmune Skin Disorders

Our immune system is designed to keep us safe and help prevent infections.  Sometimes the immune system can become confused and start attacking its own body. In these cases, we need to quiet the immune system with immunosuppressive medications.  Typically, when an autoimmune disorder is diagnosed, it is a lifelong change and immunosuppressive medication is required for life.  However, once the disease reaches remission, the patient will generally lead a normal, healthy life with minimal complications.  Routine lab work and physical examinations are recommended on a regular basis for patients on immunosuppressive medications.

Parasitic Skin Diseases

There are many types of parasites that can affect the skin, and symptoms can vary greatly depending on the type of parasite.  There are many ways to identify parasites such as skin scrapings, trichograms, flea combing, fecal examination, or even skin biopsy.  Based on your pet’s history and physical examination findings, we will perform the appropriate tests to diagnose a parasitic infestation.

Video Otoscope

Video otoscopy is a valuable tool which allows deep cleaning and visualization of the deeper parts of the ear canal. A hand-held video otoscope uses a highly magnified lens to allow us to see the horizontal ear canal, eardrum (tympanic membrane), and middle ear. It also allows for the removal of foreign material, mass removal or biopsy, and myringotomy.  A myringotomy is purposeful penetration of the middle ear to allow for removal of debris caused by a middle ear infection. Because ear infections can be painful and the prolonged manipulation of the ear canal during the procedure, our patients are anesthetized during video otoscopy.

Contact Info

Virginia Beach
Phone: (757) 866-2320

Fax: (757) 866-2326
Email: [email protected]

Phone: (757) 596-7100 Ext. 4


3296 Dam Neck Rd
Virginia Beach, VA 23453
Click here for directions.

Peninsula Animal Referral Center (PARC)
1120 George Washington Memorial Hwy, Yorktown, VA 23693
Click here for directions.

Virginia Beach Hours:

Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Friday: 8:00 am-4:00 pm
Saturday: By Appointment
Sunday: Closed

Yorktown Hours:

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 12:00 pm-7:00 pm
By Appointment Only
9:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday: By Appointment
Sunday: Closed

Request an appointment online!

Save time and quickly request an appointment online.