Veterinary dermatology is the study of the skin. It is a specific branch of veterinary medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of skin diseases and maladies in both small and large animals.
Veterinary dermatologists undergo extensive and rigorous training over a number of years, complete research and publish articles, before passing a challenging process of certified board examinations. They are recognized by the American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD) as specialists or “diplomats” to provide specialized professional veterinary services to pet owners and referring veterinarians. Veterinary dermatology is an interesting and exciting field to focus on after becoming a full-pledged veterinarian.
Do you want to become a veterinary dermatologist? Read on to find out what you need to prepare, how much you can earn, and what you can expect in this prolific career!
A vet dermatologist’s responsibilities would depend on the particular species of animals they work with—these could range from companion pets to exotic animals. Nowadays, however, it is increasingly more common for them to see a broader range of animals on a daily basis.
Some duties in the field of veterinary dermatology would include, but are not limited to:
• Receiving and evaluating animals before treatment
• Performing diagnostic laboratory tests
• Operating specialized equipment
• Participating in research and development
• Documenting health cases for medical records
The skin is the largest organ of the body and is the first line of defense against harmful agents.
Consequently animals, like humans, may also develop a myriad of dermatological conditions such as allergies, fur loss, skin cancer, congenital skin disorders, parasitic dermal infections, and a throng of other related disorders of the skin, nails, and ears.
In many cases, these skin abnormalities can be passed on to humans and vice versa.
It is the job of the vet dermatologist to see to it that a patient is treated in a timely and consistent manner so as to shorten the period of suffering and to limit the spread of the infection.
To become a veterinary dermatologist, you must first complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and pass the Veterinary licensure examinations. Obtaining this degree in veterinary medicine will first require you to finish a four year bachelor’s degree in any of the related health science courses. After obtaining your license, you must now complete a year of internship in accredited hospitals. Some universities may require additional accomplishments such as another 2 years of residency and publishing at least one paper in a scientific journal.
You will also need to learn animal photography as you will be required to take pictures for your research and documentation if you ever discover a new form of disease. Breakthroughs like these will enable you to contribute to the vast body of knowledge in animal dermatology.
The ACVD manages the certification examinations for veterinary dermatology in the United States. The ACVD also keeps a list of approved training programs and educational institutions that can provide you with the knowledge necessary to become a practicing Veterinary Dermatologist. Although there is no specific salary data for veterinary dermatologists, Salarylist.com reported a median annual wage of $120,000 for all Veterinarians in their 2012 salary survey. The highest earners averaged around $224,000, which seemed to be those who have considerable years of comprehensive experience in the field.
Other factors that determine the amount of money you can earn annually will also depend on the specific industry you work for. These industries can include academia, private veterinary practices, veterinary hospitals, animal research laboratories, government agencies, and pharmaceutical companies.
Becoming a veterinary dermatologist can be quite challenging—you will find yourself routinely encountering many frustrated owners bringing in their pets with skin conditions. These pets were once a part of the family but could be isolated from others because of the dermatological problems they suffer.
As a vet dermatologist, you have the opportunity to act as a detective in recognizing and determining the next steps to take for the immediate treatment and management of the condition.
To witness the pet slowly heal and become a part of the family once again, and to see the smiles on the faces of the family members is simply priceless. There is no greater reward in the career of veterinary dermatology than promoting the quality of life for pets, and returning them healthy to the joyful arms of their owners.