Dr. Katherine Irwin Joins Dermatology for Animals!

Dr Irwin enhancedDermatology for Animals is happy to welcome Katherine Irwin, DVM, DACVD to our  Nebraska locations in Omaha and at our new location at 3700 South 9th Street in Lincoln. Dr. Katherine Irwin is a Nebraska native, having grown up in Omaha.  She attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for her undergraduate degree and then attended Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine receiving her DVM in 2005.  Following graduation, Dr. Irwin completed an intense 1 year small animal medicine and surgery internship at 2 VCA practices in the Chicago area (VCA Berwyn and VCA Aurora).   She then spent the next 2 years working as a general practitioner in private small animal practice both back in Omaha, as well as in Topeka, Kansas.  Dr. Irwin’s appreciation for dermatology began in veterinary school and grew during her internship and as she worked as a general practitioner.  In fact, she enjoyed her dermatology cases so much it was during this time she decided to pursue specialization.   In 2008, she began a 1 year dermatology internship at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston, TX.  She was then invited to stay on at Gulf Coast for her residency training.  Dr. Irwin became a board-certified veterinary dermatologist November 2012 and remained at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists until moving back to Omaha in 2014.

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Dr. Katherine Doerr joins Dermatology for Animals!

Dr. Doerr picture 2Dermatology for Animals is happy to welcome Katherine Doerr, DVM, DACVD to our  California locations in Campbell and at our new location at 8053 Valencia Street in Aptos.  Dr. Doerr brings fresh energy and enthusiasm to our organization!  Many of you already know her since she has been treating dermatology patients in the Bay area for the last year. Dr. Doerr was raised on the Atlantic coast in Florida and started working as a veterinary nurse as a teenager. She took a detour in her career to perform environmental remediation work at NASA-Kennedy Space Center during college; however, she knew that Veterinary Medicine was her passion and therefore attended the University of Florida to obtain her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

Having graduated magna cum laude, Dr. Doerr participated in a rigorous small animal specialty and teaching internship at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a dermatology residency at the University of California at Davis. Having a keen interest in allergic skin disease as well as cutaneous manifestations of systemic disease, she was involved in research concerning canine skin barrier function as well as research on calcinosis cutis. Both were published in the international journal, Veterinary Dermatology.

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Dermatology for Animals is proud to announce that we now offer cryosurgery at several of our locations. In excitement at being able to offer this to our clients, we wanted to share with you a little about what cryosurgery is and how it may be helpful for your pet.

What is cryosurgery? Cryosurgery is the use of locally-applied cold therapy to treat many types of skin tumors or lumps.  Since the 1960’s, cryosurgery has gained popularity in both the veterinary and human medical fields as an alternative to traditional surgery for certain cancerous and non-cancerous skin tumors. Have you ever gone to your dermatologist and gotten something “frozen off”? That’s cryosurgery! As cancer is currently the major cause of pet animal death in the United States, and as skin tumors are the most common and second most common tumor types in dogs and cats, respectively, cryosurgery can be an important and effective therapy in appropriate patients.

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Dr. Stacey Holz joins Dermatology for Animals!

Dr_Stacey_Holz four seasonDr. Stacey N. Holz grew up in Danville, CA and has spent her entire life with Siberian Huskies by her side.  She has always been drawn to animals and decided at the age of 8, that she wanted to become a veterinarian (or an astronaut, if that didn’t work out). During her school years, all of her reading and report writing focused on either animals or the family vet. Throughout her youth, animals continued to be fascinating and she enjoyed her various after-school and summer jobs assisting veterinarians and working with animals.

Following high school, Dr. Holz was accepted into the Washington State University Honors College undergraduate program and was awarded early acceptance into the College of Veterinary Medicine upon enrollment. While at WSU she was a member of the women’s cross-country and track teams for the WSU Cougars and participated in many veterinary service clubs. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the WSU Honors College and the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999.

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After much research, anticipation and high hopes, we now have a new drug available for the treatment of allergic skin disease in dogs.  The drug named Apoquel™ (oclacitinib) was developed by Zoetis (formerly Pfizer) and will be officially launched and available after January 20, 2014.   We at D4A are already familiar with Apoquel™ because of our involvement with the drug during its development.  Several of our doctors and many of our patients have been involved since the early clinical trials over the last six years.  We have participated in three different clinical trials to study the safety and effectiveness of Apoquel™.  We have also been involved in a long-term study where we have monitored patients receiving Apoquel™ for over three years and counting.  Because of our experience with Apoquel™, Dr. Lewis was one of three dermatologist invited to speak about Apoquel™ at a “First to Know” meeting in Chicago in the summer of 2013.

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The Science and Art of Desensitization (Part 2)

In the past the only way to desensitize a patient was to give the allergen by injection.  Now we also have the option of sublingual which is drops under the tongue.  Once allergy test results are obtained, these results should always be critically analyzed to insure that the results are consistent with the patients ’itch history. This determination should include historical information regarding what seasons of the year are better or worse. If you have an allergic dog, cat or horse, we always want the client to pay close attention to these details since it can make a difference on our allergen selection.  If allergy testing reveals positive reactions only to seasonal pollens in a patient which is pruritic year-round, then something is being missed!  There is a saying in medicine that goes “treat the patient, not the lab results”.  This certainly applies to desensitization and the selection of allergen but this is where knowledge of the regional allergens is necessary.  For the outdoor working dog that is pruritic only in the summer and fall, then positive reactions to grasses and weeds should be present, and they need to be emphasized or prioritized when formulating the extract.  For the indoor Chihuahua which sleeps under the covers at night and who is itchy year round, then indoor allergens such as dander, mold spores, house dust and house mites need a higher priority in the extract recipe.

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The Science and Art of Desensitization (Part 1)

Allergy shots which is also known as immunotherapy or desensitization, has been one of the safest, non-drug method to treat allergies in people and animals for many years.  It also remains one of the more challenging aspects of dermatology to master.   Even though at D4A we feel the intradermal allergy (skin) test is the best way to identify what the pet is allergic to, there are many more factors to consider when deciding what to include for the process of desensitization.   Our current skin test panel includes 70 different allergens. Read more »

Why Veterinary Research Matters

Reading about the recent study where researchers at Cambridge University took cells from the lining of paraplegic dogs’ noses and injected them into their spines, improving their ability to move their hind legs reminded me of why I get excited about clinical research. See this awesome video of Jasper before and after therapy- “Click Here”

The hardest challenge in medicine is that we only have a small understanding of how the body works.  This challenge is also one of the great rewards of medicine, since asking questions and working to find the answers is what drives many of us.  We know that, no matter how much we learn in a particular field, there will always be more to discover and learn.  Medicine is a great field for people who want constant challenges and learning opportunities.

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Spokane, Washington

In January of 2012, Dermatology for Animals joined Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center including Veterinary Surgical Specialists and Inland Empire Veterinary Imaging in Spokane, Washington.  Doctors Thomas Lewis and Rose Miller are board certified Veterinary Dermatologists that are now working and treating patients at this hospital.  Dr. Miller spent her childhood in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, about 30 minutes from Spokane, so, she is happy to be practicing close to home.  Currently, doctors are available in our Spokane office by appointment.  Courtney Sims, a licensed veterinary technician, has joined the Dermatology for Animals crew in this location.  Courtney has worked with Pet Emergency Clinic for years and has been a welcome addition to Dermatology for Animals.  Dermatology for Animals is very excited for this new opportunity to care for the skin of animals in the northwest.


The staff at Dermatology for Animals would like to congratulate Dr. Darren Berger and Dr. Rose Miller on passing the American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology board exam! They both are a valuable part of our team and we could not be more ecstatic!

Dr. Darren Berger and Dr. Rose Miller began their residency with Dermatology for Animals in 2009. After completion of a three year residency and hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of studying, these doctors have been able to achieve such a feat.

Often, clients ask how a person becomes a Veterinary Dermatologist. Firstly, you need dedication, the care and compassion for the itchy, scratchy animals and a large brain capacity. Secondly, you need a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, which includes eight years of college and a one year residency in general practice. Thirdly, you apply for a very competitive residency in veterinary dermatology. After being accepted into a program, you spend the next three years diligently studying, learning and asking a lot of questions. So after 11 years of college and mentoring, you can understand what an honor it is to work with such amazing, dedicated doctors.

If we had to use one word to describe Dr. Darren Berger it would be gregarious. He is outgoing and always makes an effort to make his clients feel completely informed. He is kind-hearted, sociable and always goes above and beyond the ordinary for every patient.

If we had to use one word to describe Dr. Rose Miller it would be exhilarative. She is full of energy and we can have a hard time keeping up with her. She is amicable, approachable and indisputably cares about her patients well being.

Compliments to our newly board certified Diplomates! Now they have those well earned extra five letters to carry around.

by Hannah F. Anderson, Veterinary Technician Dermatology for Animals.