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Pruritus is spelled P-R-U-R-I-T-U-S

That's what the 3rd years have been hearing the past couple of weeks in our small animal medicine class. We just finished up one of my favorite areas of medicine: dermatology! I know, I know, dermatology is sticky, smelly, itchy, bloody, contagious, flaky, crusty, frustrating, scabby, and all around gross…but I absolutely love it. As Texans, allergies and itch are second nature to so many of us. Whether it's you or a family member, we all know someone who's seen a dermatologist for allergies, acne, bumps, lumps, etc. What many people don't know is that our pets suffer from the exact same conditions!

So, what's there to like about dermatology?  Well, dermatology simply relies on your basic senses: sight, smell, touch, and hearing (absolutely NEVER taste). For instance, in internal medicine we don't necessarily know by seeing or touching the patient if he or she has a liver condition. However, when a dermatology patient walks in the door, there's no guessing if it has a skin condition - we know. Often times, we can still smell the patient after it's left the room!

Because dermatology relies heavily on our senses, many pet owners want these problems fixed as quickly as possible. Think about it: how fun is it to pet a bald Golden Retriever? Or, smell a Cocker Spaniel's infected ears? Answer: not fun at all. One of the many reasons we have our pets is for that human-animal bond we share when we associate closely with them. Very commonly, pets sleep in their owner's bed. Don't be ashamed. Most pet owners allow it, but just don't admit it!

Either way, we all interact closely with our pets by petting them, kissing them, and holding them. Unfortunately, most of these interactions go away when our pets have skin disease. So, by helping our dermatology patients grow a brand new shiny coat or avoid those itchy, sleepless nights, we directly improve the human-animal bond between that pet and owner. It's a very rewarding area of veterinary medicine!

Be sure to check out and "Like" the Texas A&M Veterinary Dermatology Facebook page to learn more!

PS - Pruritus is a fancy word for "itching". So, next time you're itchy, use this word to impress everyone at the dinner table.