This month is Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month. As such, we thought it would be a great opportunity to recognise some of the many ways in which veterinary nurses can play a pivotal role in the work-up of dermatology cases, and highlight a few useful resources which might be helpful along the way.
STAGE 1 – GOOD HISTORY TAKING
Dermatology cases can be frustrating for owners, especially if the problem has been around for a number of months or even years. As the clinical signs can be intermittent or seasonal, it’s not always easy to see a clear pattern or work out what treatment has been most effective in the past. Collecting a detailed, complete dermatology history can make all the difference; whether it’s when first seeing a new case or to review a chronic one. Our comprehensive species-specific dermatology questionnaires (below) provide a great platform to gather this vital information. In current times, this could either be completed over the phone or by sending a version with fillable text boxes via email.
STAGE 2 – SKIN SAMPLING
An integral part of the diagnostic work-up for pruritic pets is the rule-out of other conditions such as bacterial and yeast infections and ectoparasites. This is where skin scrapes and cytology are so important alongside taking samples for culture and sensitivity testing or fungal culture when required. Veterinary nurses can provide this service within the practice. Producing a written summary for the owner of what’s been done can give them confidence in the practice’s approach to the case and aid compliance. Our dermatology consultation summary sheet (left) is designed to enable you to provide a quick and easy written follow-up, including a treatment diary.
STAGE 3 – DIETARY TRIAL
The next stage in the work-up for most pruritic animals is a dietary trial. This is the only way to diagnose a food allergy although there are blood tests available which can help to select which food to use for the trial. Getting good compliance from owners during food trials is notoriously difficult; having a specific person to contact in the practice, who can check in with them at regular intervals, can really help. Our canine and feline owner food trial guidance (below) provides balanced information on why, and how, to run a successful food trial including the common pitfalls and an 8-week diary to monitor clinical signs.
STAGE 4 – TREATMENT
Once the diagnosis has been achieved, many patients will require life-long medication which can be an ongoing struggle for owners reducing compliance. Veterinary nurses can be key here as well, teaching owners how to: apply topical treatments properly, shampoo effectively, administer oral medications and subcutaneous injections safely. Our step-by-step guide on given immunotherapy injections safely can help assist in this education process.
STAGE 5 – EDUCATION
Client education has already been mentioned throughout this article but beyond the case work-up there are opportunities to educate owners on: the signs associated with allergy, the allergy threshold, spotting flare-ups quickly and allergen avoidance to name but a few. This could be during owner dermatology clinics or even via owner educational talks at client evenings, or perhaps in current times via client webinars.
These are just a few of the ways in which veterinary nurses can make a big difference to managing dermatology cases day to day in practice. We are very proud at Avacta to have three fabulous qualified veterinary nurses as part of our team.
If you are a veterinary professional in practice and would like quick and easy access to any of the resources mentioned in this blog, just sign up to the Avacta dedicated Practice Portal here, it is available 24/7 from any location.