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TECH165-1208 : Dermatology for Veterinary Technicians

Shelley Shopsowitz-Durand, RVT

December 29, 2008-February 20, 2009
Real Time Sessions: Tuesday evenings, January 6, 13, 20, and 27, and February 3 and 10, 2009; 9:00pm-10:30pm ET (USA)

The itching, odor, appearance and general discomfort seen in animals with skin conditions is a major concern to pet owners. This course is designed to help familiarize veterinary technicians with dermatological conditions commonly seen in veterinary practices. Veterinary technicians are instrumental in collecting samples, performing diagnostic tests, and completing procedures or treatments aiding veterinarians with dermatologic diagnoses and care. Ectoparasite and dermatophyte identification will be examined in detail for dogs, and cats, and there will also be a consideration of skin disease in farm animals and horses as well as rodents, rabbits and guinea pigs.

This course will cover basic skin anatomy and physiology, terminology, and basic skin conditions commonly seen in the practice of dermatology. Mange mites, fleas, lice and ticks will be covered. We will look at dermatophytes and how to perform a fungal culture. Skin and ear cytology, atopy, and food reactions will all be discussed. Immunotherapy, shampoos and skin treatments, biopsy, and aspirates will also be covered. Ms. Shopsowitz-Durand has a long standing interest in dermatology working in a specialty practice focusing on dermatology since 1993. Her extensive background also includes lab animal science, clinical pathology, and emergency medicine, and education.

Upon completion of this course, the technician should be able to

TEXTBOOKS: There are no required texts for this course; however, the instructor has supplied a suggested list of resources that will be available in the course area library.


Week 1: Basic skin anatomy, terminology specific to dermatology
Content: In this first class we will cover the basic structure and function of skin, alopecia, erythema, pruritus and several types of skin lesions commonly seen in dermatological conditions. We will also determine the importance of obtaining a complete history; relevant information for the veterinarian's diagnosis of skin disease. We will also discuss being prepared for the basic factors, tests and other diagnostics that the veterinarian may use to determine the cause of the patient's dermatological condition.

Week 2: Mange
Content: The various types of mange mites commonly seen in dogs and cats including Scabies, Cheyletiella, and Demodex as well as ear mites will all be discussed. Sample collection including skin scraping, tape tests, hair plucking, ear swabs, and microscopic evaluation will be examined in detail. Mange in large animals and in pocket pets, rabbits and guinea pigs will be discussed

Week 3: Fleas, Lice and Ticks
Content: Fleas, lice and ticks will be discussed, with a special emphasis on flea control. Ectoparasites in large animals, as well as in rabbits, guinea pigs and rodents will be considered including flying insects, lice and ticks. We will look at pathologies associated with ectoparasites in large animals as well as in rabbits, rodents and guinea pigs

Week 4: Microscopic sample evaluation
Content: This week we will cover microscopy including skin and ear cytology, specifically recognition of cells encountered in skin and ear cytology. We will discuss how to set up and monitor a dermatophyte culture and identify dermatophytes under the microscope. Use of the Wood's lamp, KOH evaluation and trichograms will be discussed. We will look at dermatophyte species commonly affecting pets, large animals, rodents, rabbits and guinea pigs

Week 5: Sample collection and relevant diseases seen in dermatology practice
Content: Collection of samples for skin biopsy, bacterial culture, and fine needle aspirates as well as blood tests relevant to dermatological conditions will be covered. Examples of skin diseases seen in dogs and cats as well as in large animals will be shown to augment these diagnostic tests. Examples of cells seen under the microscope in specific disease conditions

Week 6: Atopy, adverse food reaction, control of pruritic individuals
Content: What is involved in intradermal testing and allergen specific immunotherapy as well as in vitro allergy testing will be discussed. Food allergy, food trials and provocation trials will be covered. We will also look at the various types of diets available for the patient with an adverse food reaction. Shampoos, dips, and conditioners used in dermatological conditions will all be discussed as well as treatment protocols. Advice for reducing itchiness in the allergic pet will be considered.

LIBRARY MATERIALS: Library materials will be made available prior to the topic week so participants will have plenty of time to prepare for the real time sessions and discussion.

MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSIONS: Message board discussions regarding the topic presented will begin on the day the course opens and continue for one week following the last real time session. These discussions will be held in the VSPN CE course area.


$180 ($162.00 early bird special if enrolled before December 15, 2008).
*Students currently enrolled in and taking at least 2 classes or 5 units at an AVMA accredited or CAAHT approved Veterinary Technician Program may be eligible to receive a 50% discount off the regular rate for this course (upon verification of student status). You must include the following information in the comments section of the CE enrollment form in order to be eligible for this discount: your program director's name and contact information (email/phone) and school name.

** NOTE: Enrollment will be closed when the maximum number of participants is reached or at 5pm ET the day of the first real time session.

For More Information on how our online CE courses work please read the following:

  1. Each person must individually be a registered member of VSPN ( Membership in VSPN is free.
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  4. VIN Member veterinarians SHOULD NOT register for their staff. Please have the staff member register through VSPN. Please email if you have questions.
Note: "This course has been submitted (but not yet approved) for 9 hours of continuing education credit in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB RACE approval; however participants should be aware that some boards have limitations on the number of hours accepted in certain categories and/or restrictions on certain methods of delivery of continuing education. Call VSPN CE at 1-800-700-4636 for further information." (Attendees are encouraged to check with their licensing jurisdiction(s) for information regarding recognition by their board).
COURSE WITHDRAWAL AND REFUND POLICY: Withdrawal prior to the listed start date of a course entitles the registrant to a complete refund or a credit toward a future VSPN or VIN CE course, whichever is preferred. Withdrawal within 1 week after the listed start date (i.e. including no more than one real-time session) entitles the registrant to a credit toward any future VIN CE course. (Does not apply to courses with only one real-time session.) After the first real-time session, a registrant may withdraw due to special circumstances and receive prorated credit towards a future VIN course. These requests will be handled on an individual basis. The amount of the prorated credit will be determined based on 65% of the time remaining in the course at the time of withdrawal. It is not possible to withdraw retroactively.
Note: To ensure rapid handling of your request for withdrawal, we recommend that you call the VIN office at 1-800-700-INFO (4636).
** For More Information on VSPN's upcoming CE Courses, check out

Nanette R. Walker Smith, M.Ed., RVT, CVT, LVT
VSPN Content Director & CE Coordinator
1-800-846-0028 or 1-530-297-4950, ext 187

Charlotte Waack (, ext 193
Chris Upchurch (; ext 197
VSPN CE Services
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