Tape cytology from dog with Malassezia dermatitis (Dif-Quik stain).
Tape cytology from dog with Malassezia dermatitis (Dif-Quik stain) – note the “peanut-shaped guys”. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Ever had one of those cases, which seem to typically occur around this time of year, that you think must be the start of an allergic dermatitis?

These present with pruritus, erythema and sometimes a yellowish/grey, greasy feel to the skin and hair coat.

The dog is already on a regular POM-V broad-spectrum antiparasiticide.

Initial thoughts

Pyoderma immediately springs to mind – it’s 6.55pm on a Friday, you skip the cytology and start on an appropriate antibiotic; maybe even a short course of prednisolone.

A week later and the dog has not really improved, so it’s a great time for some cytology. There is a good chance we have got a Malassezia dermatitis, and hey presto – the peanut-shaped guys are visible on microscopy. A couple of Malaseb shampoos later and we are rocking.

Then the fun really starts as we try to determine the underlying cause…

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