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Skin Scraping in Dogs

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Skin problems and itchiness are common and frustrating disorders in animals. With so many underlying causes, finding the reason for the problem is important in order to find an appropriate treatment or even a cure. A skin scraping is a commonly performed test that can help diagnose certain skin inflammations, fungal infections, and skin cancer and is quite effective in determining the presence of mites. A skin scraping is a collection of a sample of skin cells that are evaluated under a microscope.

A skin scraping is indicated in any skin disorder, especially those involving hair loss and itchiness. There are no real contraindications to performing this test.

What Does a Skin Scraping Reveal?

A skin scraping can reveal the presence of abnormal cells in the superficial layers of the skin. It can reveal certain fungi, bacteria, cancer cells and parasites. By determining the underlying cause of the skin disorder, an effective and appropriate treatment can begin.

How Is a Skin Scraping Done?

A skin scraping is performed by collecting a sample of skin cells with the use of a scalpel blade. The blade is used to gently scrape layers of the skin, usually until a small amount of blood is seen, so that your veterinarian can gather cells deep in the skin. This is important, especially if parasites are suspected, since they often live deep in the skin. The skin cell sample is placed on a microscope slide, mixed with oil and evaluated under a microscope. Most often, results are available within 30 minutes. Sometimes, the veterinarian may need a second opinion and will submit the skin scraping sample to an outside laboratory. Results may take two to four days.

Is a Skin Scraping Painful?

Any pain involved is associated with the deep scraping of the skin. The level of pain varies from one animal to another and is more likely to cause discomfort rather than pain.

Is Sedation or Anesthesia Needed for a Skin Scraping?

Neither sedation nor anesthesia is needed in order to perform a skin scraping. Most animals tolerate this procedure quite well.

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