Mystery dermatology diagnosis at your veterinary clinic

Mystery dermatology diagnosis at your veterinary clinic

Dermatology cases can mean heavy detective work for your clinical team. Use these tips to keep clients calm and comforted as your veterinarian unravels the evidence to reveal the culprit of the pet's distress.

Imagine for a minute your furry friend is itchy. She scratches all night long, sometimes until she bleeds on the carpet. Maybe she's losing hair or her ears ache. The veterinarian tries to help, but she needs to run tests to find out what's wrong. The tests take time and cost money, and you have other expenses on your plate. Are you feeling stressed yet?

When pet owners visit with dermatologic conditions, these mysteries can take time to unravel. Sometimes they even require a referral to a board-certified veterinary dermatologist. So you can begin to see how these clients might be curt, on edge, or even downright rude on occasion. But you can help. By caring for clients when their pets suffer from chronic illness, you can improve the care these itchy pets receive and increase the chances their owners will offer the high level of care pets may need.

Scratch the surface

One of the most important skills you can cultivate is listening, says Lisa Petty, BS, RVT, a technician at Animal Dermatology Clinic in Indianapolis. Petty works for boarded veterinary dermatologists and sees exclusively dermatology cases.

"The best thing to do is to empathize with clients. Listen and see where the frustration is coming from," Petty says. "Is it because they're not sleeping at night because the pet's scratching so much and keeping them awake? Is it because they don't have the money to continue an expensive medication? If we listen and uncover the root of the frustration, we can usually find ways to help."

Remember, in some cases pet owners have been dealing with a pet's illness for a while. Petty says it's not usual for clients to look up their pet's symptoms on the Internet, which can spark new worries about their pet's health. And sometimes clients are juggling several issues, such as a sick family member, which can lead to a shorter fuse when they're grappling with their pet's condition.