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.

Puppy Love: Pugs and Kisses, Oh, and Ear flushes

When I was in general practice, some of my favorite cases were new puppies as this gave me the opportunity to try to educate people early on regarding some of preventative measures that can be taken in order to control for possible ear and skin problems in the future as well as help their pet be more amenable to certain treatments (e.g. ear flushes).

One of the many consequences of allergies and other diseases such as hypothyroidism can be recurrent ear infections (otitis) or skin infections (pyoderma, bacterial folliculitis, Malassezia (yeast) dermatitis). It is often recommended that once chronic ear problems have been identified that routine ear flushing be performed to help remove debris and infectious organisms from the ear canals, hopefully helping to prevent ear infections. Unfortunately, ear infections are often quite painful, often making it difficult to treat your pet without them always running away from you as you reach for the medications. Playing with your puppy’s ears when they are young and starting a routine ear flushing regimen can be especially helpful later on if your puppy is unfortunate to suffer from ear infections as he or she ages, as they will have become somewhat accustomed to the routine. Additionally, if your puppy is accustomed to manipulation of the ears, otic exams by veterinarians may not be as uncomfortable and stressful. Read more »

The BEAR Necessity:

Although the majority of the cases that walk through the door are dogs, cats and the occasional horse, every once in a while we each get the lucky call to come help with a wild animal.

In our Albuquerque practice we have been fortunate to get to work with a wildlife rescue who recently had an outbreak of itchy black bears and asked us for our help.

One of the young female bears was brought in for evaluation of crusting on the face and mild itching. Like any other patient we preformed all of our diagnostics, including skin scrapings and cytology. On the skin scrape we were lucky enough to find the source of our trouble. This bear and likely all the others were infested with a contagious bear mite, Ursicoptes Americans. Read more »

A New Approach to Immunotherapy


Allergen specific immunotherapy, also sometimes called “allergy shots,” is often the preferred method of treatment for atopic dermatitis (allergic skin and ear disease triggered by environmental allergens such as dust mites, pollens, molds, etc.).  After allergies have been diagnosed and allergy testing is performed on a patient, an individualized allergen serum is formulated based on test results.  The same types of allergy tests are used for the formulation of both sublingual and injectable allergen sera. For more information, see our past blog entry about allergy testing- The allergy testing debate serology vs intradermal.  Until recently, the only proven effective way to administer immunotherapy in dogs and cats was by subcutaneous injection.  Administering immunotherapy by injection works just great for most animals, but sometimes an alternative approach is indicated.. Read more »

Becoming a Veterinary Specialist

My journey to becoming a Veterinary Dermatologist.

Many people understand what it takes to become a veterinarian, which includes numerous years of college and four years of veterinary school, but they do not always understand what it takes to become a veterinary specialist.  As a veterinarian who just finished my residency, I think I have a good grasp on what it entails to be a board certified Veterinary Dermatologist.

My first step to becoming a veterinary specialistwas realizing my goal.  I was first introduced to the idea of a veterinary specialist during college and I knew that would be an enormous accomplishment that would add at least four additional years on to my education.  My first thought was no way do I want to put my life on hold for another four years, equaling a grand total of 24 years of education, but I soon learned that was exactly what I was going to do. Read more »

D4A staff

Many of our doctors have taken this forum to discuss clinical cases, diseases and medications, however, I would like to use it to introduce you to our wonderful and devoted staff who get too little credit and recognition for all that they do to ensure your pets get the best care possible.  With this being said, I would like to introduce our blog followers to a different staff member each time I have an opportunity write. For my first post, I would like to introduce our followers to Suz Goaley, our Omaha technician/receptionist and all around jack-of-all-trades. Suz started with D4A in March 2010 and has been the friendly face that first greets our clients each time they come through our doors. Read more »

Pyogranulomatous Dermopanniculitis


Louie is a beautiful and beloved Bearded Collie who came to see Dermatology for Animals after a mysterious wound appeared on the inside of his right front leg.  Numerous different treatments had been tried, but there was no response and his wound was continuing to get bigger and bigger.  The owners and the veterinarian who referred the case were very frustrated with poor Louie’s wound.

On Louie’s initial examination it was obvious that his wound was very painful.  Louie had a bad limp on his right front leg with two ulcerations on the inside of this leg.  His leg was swollen to about twice its normal size.  Our first step was to take a small piece of tissue from the leg to send it to a histopathologist.  She examined the tissue with a microscope to determine the cause.   Another piece of tissue was also sent to the laboratory for a culture and sensitivity to determine the appropriate antibiotic for Louie’s wound. Read more »

Understanding Medicated Shampoos

These days we have nearly as many shampoo choices for our pets as we do for ourselves. Walking down the bathing and grooming aisle at your local pet specialty store, it becomes clear that choosing a shampoo for your dog is not as straight forward as you might think. Things only become more complicated when your dog has a skin disease.

When skin disease comes into the picture, bathing takes on a whole new purpose. It’s no longer just about cleaning off that mud from the dog park, or about looking amazing for the next dog show. Medicated shampoos are used as a critical part of the medical treatment regimen for infectious, seborrheic (oily or flaky), and allergic skin diseases. Read more »

My dog’s on a grain free diet, so it can’t be food allergies, right?

The short answer to this very common question is “WRONG!”  Unfortunately, grains have gotten a bad rap in the last few years, and although they can cause food allergies, they are lower on the list of likely suspects.  Food allergy is often a very frustrating diagnosis to make as veterinarians ask their owners to please stop feeding their pet’s current diet and all their treats.  As veterinarians, no, we are not trying to make your life challenging or interfere with your bond with “Buddy” by denying him his favorite treat. In order to perform a good food trial to rule in or out a food allergy, the trial must be strict.  Although the more common offending ingredients in your pet’s diet are animal protein-based (beef, chicken or dairy), the possibilities of other ingredients are likely as well due to the varied nature of our pets’ foods and treats, and there is no way of knowing which ingredient might be the one contributing to a food allergy. Read more »

“Walk a mile”

It is commonly said “ you will never fully understand a person unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” or in our patient’s case, spent a day with itchy skin.  I have not only spent a day, I’ve spent many years with skin allergies of my own.  Not only do I understand what it feels like to constantly be uncomfortable in your own skin, I understand the frustrations of trying to pinpoint the cause and get a treatment plan that works. Although no one wishes to be itchy all the time, this experience has given me great empathy and understanding for not only the suffering of my patients, but the frustration that owners go through during the work up phase.

Tired of lying awake at night scratching my arms and legs until they would bleed and listening to my co-workers threatening to wrap my hands in oven mitts (the human version of an e-collar), I finally broke down and went to see my own dermatologist. Similar to my appointments with my own patients, I was grilled about my diet, my exposure to chemicals, seasonality of symptoms, etc.  After several tests, it eventually took 2 skin biopsies to get a final answer. After weeks of trial and error, drawers full of creams and medications which were unsuccessful and years of discomfort I was finally diagnosed with a contact dermatitis (I was allergic to something I was coming in contact with on a regular basis). Although I was excited to have an answer, I knew this was likely the beginning of another battle, finding what was causing my reaction. I was told to switch all my detergents, soaps, lotions, etc. to hypoallergenic fragrance free products and keep a list of thing that came in contact with my skin at work.  This meant no scent lotions or soaps, no fabric softeners or scented laundry detergents and on and on. As I boxed away my beloved Khiel’s skin care collection, I thought to myself this better work….and guess what? It worked! I am now itch free and my skin is no longer scratched and scarred.  The only regret I have is that I didn’t go sooner! Read more »