Dermatology Referrals

You must be referred by a veterinary surgeon

We offer a speedy and efficient referral service for colleagues dealing with problem skin cases. Facilities are available for the investigation and treatment of all types of skin disease including intradermal skin testing.

Skin conditions are a common reason to seek treatment and advice from your veterinary surgeon. You or your veterinary surgeon may decide that your pet’s condition requires further evaluation for a complete diagnosis for a whole range of dermatological complaints ranging from allergies resulting in excessive itching, to conditions affecting ears, claws and the skin immune system.

If your pet has a condition affecting the skin, coat, ears or claws and you are interested in referral for a dermatological assessment, you should speak to your veterinary surgeon to initiate referral. The service only accepts pets that have been referred by a veterinary surgeon and all relevant information about their health and skin condition is supplied by the referring vet.

For use by Vets only


Skin disease in animals is common and often complex or difficult to manage. This requires a detailed investigation to establish the cause which enables appropriate treatment programmes to be implemented. Many general practitioners will recommend referral for pets with complex or recurrent skin-related problems or are willing to arrange referral when requested by the pet owner.

After referral has been initiated, the pet owner will be asked to submit an online questionnaire to gather additional information. Together with the pet’s medical history supplied by their own veterinary surgeon, the information forms the basis of the initial consultation which typically lasts around 60 minutes. During this time a detailed history and physical examination of the pet is performed and routine dermatological samples are usually taken for examination.

Following the preliminary evaluation and a discussion of further tests recommended, it is common for pets to be admitted to the hospital. The skilled nursing team cares for the patient during their admission so that investigations such as intradermal testing, biopsying and ear examination and treatment can be performed. Dermatology patients do not usually require hospitalisation overnight and will be discharged with a treatment plan on the same day as the consultation.

The referring veterinary surgeon will receive a report discussing the findings of the investigations and will be informed of the treatment plan. Many pets will return for follow-up appointments for further investigation or monitoring of their skin condition. Many skin diseases require long-term management and the best outcomes are seen when a dermatologist is involved in advising pet owners and their veterinary surgeons. Alison will request updates from most owners for monitoring of treatments and appointments at the clinic can be arranged as necessary.

Alison Shearer


Alison Shearer graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, London in 1988 and after working for a short while in general practice, studied dermatology as a Resident in Dermatology for three years at the Bristol Veterinary School. She has over 25 years’ experience in veterinary dermatology, holds the RCVS certificate in small animal dermatology and is a RCVS Advanced Practitioner in Small Animal Dermatology. Alison is a longstanding member of the British Dermatology Study Group and the European Society of Veterinary Dermatology.

The dermatology clinic at Donaldson’s Vets is held at the hospital site in Somerset Road, usually every 3 weeks. The hospital provides the support necessary to make a thorough assessment of dermatology cases. Investigations commonly include hair examination, ear and skin cytology.

Where appropriate to the individual case, more advanced techniques such as skin biopsy, blood tests and intradermal testing for canine atopic dermatitis are available.

The aim of the dermatology service is to make an accurate diagnosis of the condition and advise on the available treatments and management strategies. These utilise an evidence-based approach whenever possible and tailoring treatments to the individual case is important in achieving the best outcome.