Skill Group: Dermatology

Skill Overview: Dermatologic Examination and Beginning Dermatology Techniques

This skill is part of the skill unit: Dermatology


Dermatologic and otic diseases constitute at least 30-40% of all cases seen in general companion animal practice. As such, critical examination of the skin and ears is an essential skill. Recommended diagnostic procedures are based on either a tentative diagnosis and/or differential diagnosis. Sample collection and interpretation are rapid and fairly simple techniques that are informative and within the realm of general practice veterinarians and most likely need to be performed on every patient with skin and/or ear disease.

In this module, you will learn how to perform otic and dermatologic examination, as well as beginning dermatology techniques.

Here are some suggested references for the module:

  • Hnilica, KA, Patterson, AP. Small animal dermatology: a color atlas and therapeutic guide, Fourth edition, St. Louis; Elsevier, 2017. Chapter 2 Diagnostic Techniques, pp 30-44.
  • Miller, WH, Griffen, CE, Campbell, KL. Muller & Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology, Seventh edition, St. Louis; Elsevier, 2013. Chapter 2 Diagnostic Methods, pp78-95.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Perform a thorough dermatologic and otic examination.
  • Collect cytology from the skin and ears and know what equipment is needed for each technique.
  • Collect deep and superficial skin scrapings as well as use other techniques to find parasites, and know the indications for each.
  • Collect, examine and interpret the results of the trichogram.
  • Perform a Wood’s lamp examination, collect a fungal culture and interpret the results of each.
  • Identify sites for bacterial culture, collect samples for the culture and sensitivity testing
  • Perform skin biopsies for histopathology, identify appropriate sites for sampling, prepare the site and suture the site.

Module Roadmap

To successfully complete this module, we recommend that you review the following lessons in order:

  1. Goal One: Dermatology and otic examination
    1. Examination of the Skin
    2. Examination of the Ears
  2. Goal Two: Skin and ear cytology
  3. Goal Three: Skin scrapings
  4. Goal Four: Trichogram
  5. Goal Five: Fungal examination and culture
  6. Goal Six: Bacterial culture
  7. Goal Seven: Skin biopsy
  8. Checkpoint Assessment: (Under Development)


OSU CVM Veterinary Clinical and Professional Skills Center Handbook Copyright © 2018 by The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. All Rights Reserved.

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