Dermatology FAQs

Dermatology Direct Phone: 847.459.7580

Why didn’t my veterinarian find the problem?

Your veterinarian has worked very hard to try to identify the problem, and referring your pet to a specialist is the next step in that process. Dr. Ness is board-certified in veterinary dermatology, which means he has completed a residency (additional specialized training), done research and published articles, and passed a rigorous exam, to become Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology.

Can my pet’s allergies be cured?

Unfortunately, allergies can be a life-long problem. If the underlying allergy can be identified and removed from the pet’s environment (as in the case of some food allergies), the pet may no longer have bothersome symptoms. If that is not possible, we will discuss options to control the symptoms.

My vet said my dog may have atopic dermatitis – what is that?

Atopic dermatitis is usually caused by allergies presenting with skin and ear issues. The pet’s immune system overreacts to allergens that are normally present in the environment or ingredients in the food. Common environmental allergens include dust, dust mites, pollens

(weeds, trees, grasses), molds, feathers and/or wool. This can be present in any breed of dog or cat. Diagnosis is based upon history, distribution of lesions, response to treatment, and ruling out other diseases. A food elimination diet can be done to rule in/out food allergens. Allergy tests (blood or intradermal) are used to identify offending environmental allergens so that allergen-specific immunotherapy (allergy shots) can be prepared to hyposensitize the pet. Medications are also available to treat this process and will be discussed at the visit.

Can my pet be allergic to his/her food?

Absolutely. Pets may develop an allergy to almost any component of their diet, no matter how high-quality the ingredient. It’s more common to have allergies to the protein component, but some animals have allergies to the carbohydrates as well. If this is a concern, we will discuss the appropriate approach to diagnose and deal with this type of issue.

Why does the infection keep coming back?

There may be a predisposing cause for recurrent infections. Until that cause is diagnosed and addressed, it’s likely that the infection will return. Possible underlying causes may include allergies, endocrine imbalance, autoimmune disease and/or ectoparasites.

What is Cushing’s disease?

Hyperadrenocorticism, also called Cushing’s disease, is caused by the overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal gland. Symptoms range from recurrent infections and decreased muscle mass, to frequent urination and excessive water intake. Laboratory tests are needed to confirm the disease, but medical or surgical treatment options are available depending upon the type of hyperadrenocorticism present.


Starting Monday, April 8th through the end of September, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will begin their road resurfacing project along Waukegan Road from Lake Cook Road to Half Day Road (IL 22). Please allow additional travel time to our hospital during the construction. Learn More: Waukegan Road Resurfacing Project