HealthThe Examiner

New Pet Dermatology Does More Than Scratch the Surface of Pet Allergies

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Dr. Jeanne Budgin, a pet dermatologist, opened Hudson Valley Veterinary Dermatology in July in Thornwood.

It made perfect sense that Dr. Jeanne Budgin would become a veterinarian.

Budgin loved animals as you would expect someone who grew up on farm might. The New Jersey native had horses, goats and chickens, but, of course, enjoyed dogs and cats as well.

What was a little different than many other veterinarians is that relatively quickly into her career Budgin pivoted to specialize in pet dermatology.

“I was quite happy in general practice but really found kind of an interest in dermatology because it’s so common,” she said. “I think it’s second only, depending on what data you’re looking at, the first or the second most common reason why animals present to veterinarians.”

During the summer Budgin opened her own practice on Commerce Street in Thornwood, Hudson Valley Veterinary Dermatology. She also practices two days a week at her office in Manhattan.

So why are skin problems so prevalent in dogs and cats?

Many pets suffer from allergies, easily the leading cause of skin problems for them, Budgin said. For dogs, virtually all of whom go outside regularly, they can be allergic to pollen just like humans, she said.

But there are pet allergies that can occur indoors, mostly commonly a negative reaction to dust mites, which can collect on furniture, bedding and pillows.

“So that is a big trigger for dogs and cats, just like it is in people,” Budgin said.

Then there can be other environmental reactions or even allergies to certain foods, she said.

The most obvious reaction when pets suffer from allergies is excessive scratching and itching. In dogs, licking their feet can also be a clue as well as hair loss in certain areas. Some cats may tend to overgroom, another sign something could be wrong.

If there is strong odor coming from the pet there could be an ear infection.

Certain breeds are more susceptible to skin problems, Budgin said. For dogs, the West Highland White Terrier and the French bulldog, skin problems are quite common.

“When it comes to allergies, it’s licking, it’s cleaning, it’s redness, it’s hair loss, obvious scratching,” Budgin said of what pet owners should look out for. “It could be odor from the ear.”

Allergies will also likely be a recurring issue rather than a one-time problem.

“For pet owners, what’s your tipping point because people reach that point,” said Budgin, who earned her doctor of veterinary medicine from Iowa State University and gained her specialized dermatology training from the University of Pennsylvania.

“They go to their primary vet over and over and over again for that ear infection when what really needs to happen is a specialist needs to get involved who really can identify and manage that underlying allergy because that results in good success and a much happier and content pet owner.”

Many of Budgin’s patients come on referrals from their primary or family veterinarians, she said. However, pet owners are free to make an appoint with her office if they suspect that they need greater and more specialized care that they aren’t receiving elsewhere.

“It’s important for people to know that they can seek out care,” Budgin advised. “It’s also important that they can work with their primary vet but their primary vet also needs to understand when best to refer, and that’s on me to educate them about this.”

Hudson Valley Veterinary Dermatology is located at 620 Commerce St. in Thornwood. For more information, visit or call 914-495-8300.

In the original version of the story, the phone number was incorrect. 

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