There is no question too big or too small for our veterinary team. Below are some answers to our most common questions.

We proudly serve pets in Chicago, IL, and beyond.

At Pet Derm, we get a ton of interesting questions from pet parents. Below are some common FAQs that might help answer any questions or concerns. Please feel free to call us at 312-929-2934 for any other concerns you might have about your pet.
What should I expect during my pet’s initial consultation?
We begin each consultation with a detailed history intake followed by a thorough physical exam completed by Dr. Levinson. Please fill out the new patient intake form available on our website in-depth as possible on your pet’s history. Though we will be requesting records from your primary care Veterinarian before you arrive, this helps us to gain this information from your experience. Please be patient and expect to go over detailed questions about your pet’s history. In order to properly diagnose your pet, Dr. Levinson might have to take a skin or ear cytology, sometimes both. After this, he will create a treatment plan for your pet based on his findings and possibly suggest further diagnostics such as biopsies, allergy testing, video otoscopy, etc. Please plan to be in the office anywhere from 60-90 minutes. Should we recommend any procedures or advanced diagnostics such as intradermal allergy testing or video otoscopy, you may leave your pet and return later in the day if necessary. While we do our best to accommodate you and your pet, we cannot guarantee procedures or advanced diagnostics will be performed on the same day of the initial appointment. If this is the case, we will schedule these at another time with no additional exam fee applied.
What is your cancellation policy?

The initial consultation fee is required to be paid upfront as a deposit in order to secure your pet’s appointment time.

You may cancel or reschedule your appointment at least 24 hours in advance. If you choose to cancel and do not reschedule an appointment time, you must contact us 24 hours prior to the scheduled appointment to receive a full refund. Please note that for Monday appointments, we require notification by 12pm the Friday before your scheduled appointment.

If you do not cancel/reschedule your appointment 24 hours prior or are a no-show for your pet’s scheduled appointment, then the deposit will be used to cover this time.

We do allow a 15-minute grace period for both initial and recheck consultations. Arriving past this grace period we cannot guarantee your pet can be seen that day and your appointment may be canceled.

Recheck consultations also must be canceled 24 hours prior (Monday appointments must be canceled by 12:00 pm on the Friday before the appointment). may result in deposits for future scheduling.

What is cytology and why is it necessary?
A cytology, also called an impression smear, is an important diagnostic tool used routinely amongst veterinary dermatologists to help determine the presence of bacteria, yeast or other infections, inflammation, atypical skin cells, and even neoplastic (cancerous) cells. These samples are often collected from the mass or lesion on the skin by direct smearing a glass microscope slide, using a cotton tip applicator, applying clear tape, or a fine needle aspirate. By reviewing these samples under the microscope, it provides important information that could allow for a more accurate diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall better outcome for your pet’s skin and/or ear disease.
Is there allergy testing available for cutaneous adverse food reactions (food allergies)?
While there are laboratories that offer blood, saliva, and/or hair samples for food allergy testing, there is no validity or reproducibility to these tests, and they are not recommended for diagnosing cutaneous adverse food reactions.

The current standard for diagnosis of cutaneous adverse food reactions (CAFR) in dogs and cats involves restrictive diet trials (elimination diets).

These elimination diet trials involve prescription-based diets that are either novel protein diets (a protein your dog or cat has never been previously exposed to before) or a hydrolyzed protein diet (hydrolyzed proteins involve breaking down the proteins into pieces that are so small that the immune system no longer reacts to them).

Studies show that the sensitivity to diagnose CAFR is 90% when fed an elimination diet for 8 weeks. We typically recommend performing an elimination diet trial anywhere from 8-12 weeks. Pending response, we then discuss the next steps!

Should I feed my pet a grain-free diet to rule out food allergies?

Grain allergies are a common misconception when it comes to food allergies in pets. The most common food triggers when it comes to food allergies are proteins! Proteins are larger in their molecular size/weight than grains which makes it easier for a hyperreactive immune system to recognize them and become sensitized to that protein.

The most common food that may lead to allergic reactions in dogs is beef, dairy, chicken, and lamb. For cats, it is beef, fish, and chicken.

What are treatment options for managing environmental allergies?
There are several options when it comes to managing your pet’s environmental allergies. These options include symptomatic therapies that are designed to mask the symptoms and provide relief. Examples of these include Cytopoint injections, Apoquel, Atopica (cyclosporine), steroids, and antihistamines.

An alternative to symptomatic therapy is treating your pet with allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) which is the only effective therapy in truly treating your pet’s allergies long-term.

Generally, when managing environmental allergies, we use a combination of symptomatic therapies and ASIT with the goal of trying to manage your pet’s allergies with ASIT alone as in addition to being the only actual treatment it is also the safest treatment long term.

What is allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT)?

Allergen Specific Immunotherapy (ASIT) commonly known as “allergy shots” is the most effective and safest treatment for environmental allergies in dogs and cats. It is the only way to truly change the immune system’s response to allergens.

ASIT works by introducing the pet’s immune system to small amounts of what the pet is allergic to in the environment. Then by increasing the dosing over time so the pet can build a tolerance to these allergens. ASIT is always custom-made for the individual pet receiving it.

It is too stressful and/or difficult to administer allergy shots at home, are there alternatives to managing my pet’s environmental allergies?

Yes! We offer sublingual immunotherapy (oral drops given under the tongue or cheek pouch) or intratympanic immunotherapy (a series of injections administered at the clinic).

We also can set up a standing technician appointment for maintenance subcutaneous allergy shots to be administered at our clinic by one of our technicians.

Do I need to make follow-up appointments after my pet starts its allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT)?

The most important component in successfully managing your pet’s allergies is communication and routine follow-ups. By communicating and following up with us as recommended we will be able to make the necessary adjustments along the way to maximize the success of the immunotherapy.

Remember, every immunotherapy is custom-made for the individual pet and no one pet may respond the same. So, while we offer standard guidelines to follow, we often are adjusting that accordingly based on that pet’s response.

Does my pet need full sedation/anesthesia for growth removals or are there non-sedation treatments offered?
Yes, we do offer growth removals using just local anesthetics (numbing the area where the growth is removed) but there are several factors to consider. These factors include but are not limited to the pet’s temperament, location of the growth, size of the growth, and the total number of growths wanting to be removed.

Treatment options involved in removing either single or multiple growths using local anesthetic include laser ablation (carbon dioxide laser) or cryotherapy (freezing the growth).

What are the benefits of using carbon dioxide (CO2) laser for growth removals?
A CO2 laser has many advantages to traditional surgical excision of using a scalpel blade for the removal of growths. These benefits include minimizing bleeding, less pain, reduced risk of infection, and faster recovery.
What is video-otoscopy?

It involves using a small rigid otoscope that contains a camera that can be passed into the ear canal. The image is then magnified onto a screen to allow for superior visualization of the ear canal and structures. The otoscope has small openings that allow instruments to pass through to help provide a deep cleaning, growth/polyp removals, myringotomies, and many other procedures. Video-otoscopy is an essential tool that can help lead to the rapid resolution of chronic infections and diseases in the ears. Veterinary dermatologists are experts in the use of video otoscopy as they are highly specialized in the treatment and management of ear disease.