Get to know Rowan’s resident Board-Certified Veterinary Dermatologist.
What does a veterinary dermatologist do?
A veterinary dermatologist is similar to a human dermatologist. We have to complete at least four years of additional training, publish clinical research, and go through rigorous testing to become board certified. Veterinary dermatologists specialize in skin and ear diseases, but also function as the allergists of the vet world. I would say about 80% of what we do is manage allergies. That’s because most allergies in animals manifest through skin and ear conditions. One of the best parts of my job is as a mentor of our residency program, where I help train other veterinarians to become dermatologists. This allows me to learn alongside my residents, staying up to date on the science and participating in clinical research.
How did you get started in this field?
I’ve always really loved animals. Some would say I’m kind of obsessed with them. I also love that with the field of medicine, there is always an opportunity to learn more. Becoming a vet derm was more of a serendipitous experience for me. While at veterinary school in Cornell, I was lucky to work with two leading veterinary dermatologists and then had another amazing mentor during my internship. I loved dermatology from the very beginning and still do!
When should a pet owner see a veterinary dermatologist vs. a regular vet?
Most pets' skin and ear problems can be managed at their family veterinarian. But if your pet’s allergies are really complicated or not responding to medications, your veterinarian may refer you to see us. We also see certain skin cancers, rare diseases like auto-immune and immune-mediated conditions, hormonal skin and coat problems, severe ear and nail problems, and chronic or severe infections.
What are pet parents’ biggest mistakes when it comes to their dog's skin and coat health?
I think the biggest misconception is that you should not bathe your dog very often. As long as you’re using a gentle, mild shampoo, bathing your dog once a week is great. I actually recommend bathing allergic dogs even more often than that.
Another misconception is that you don’t need to care about sun exposure with dogs. Almost every day I see a dog with chronic sun damage or a sun-induced skin cancer. Many dogs like pit bulls, greyhounds, whippets, and Chihuahuas love to bathe in the sun. Over time, their skin gets damaged, becomes more susceptible to infection and can develop cancers. The human dermatology world has done a great job of getting the word out about sun overexposure, but we are a bit behind in the vet world.
What are some simple things pet owners can do to keep their dog’s skin and coat healthy?
I recommend limiting sun exposure, especially in pets with light colored coats. Internal health is essential to skin and coat health. Checking in with your family veterinarian at least yearly to make sure all systems are functioning well is an important part of overall health. A balanced diet rich in omegas is also key to good skin and coat health. Regular bathing, brushing and grooming is another way to help maintain a healthy skin and coat.
How did you get involved with Rowan?
I met Michelle and Sally through a mutual friend and really believe in their approach. I don’t really know of any other dog company that wanted to know all the science before jumping into things, especially because they’re not making any prescription products. They really care about dogs. They’re as obsessed as I am!
How do Rowan’s formulas help promote healthy skin and coats?
When it comes to pet care products, what’s not in the formula is as important as what’s inside. Rowan formulas are based on a lot of research to make them clean. They are gently formulated to clean coats without stripping the natural oils dogs need to keep their skin and coats healthy. Other formulas may feature ingredients that sound good, but because pet care products are predominantly unregulated, it’s like the Wild West out there. Even natural ingredients like tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil can be toxic to dogs—concentration really matters. I know a lot of passion and care went into creating Rowan. I personally love The Coat Shimmer. It’s just so fun!