PEI

AVC welcomes its first veterinary dermatologist

The Atlantic Veterinary College is now home to a new veterinary dermatologist.

'I love having that bond with the families that I work with and their pets'

Dr. Charlie Pye, right, has been coming to work at AVC for short periods over the last 6 years to see patients, but now she's practising out of the college permanently. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

The Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown is now home to a new veterinary dermatologist.

Dr. Charlie Pye has been coming to work at AVC for short periods over the last six years to see patients, but now she's practising out of the college permanently. 

'Live a really good life'

Pye said she's the only veterinary dermatologist currently practising in Atlantic Canada and it's the first time the AVC has had someone in the field at the animal hospital full time. 

Pye says 30 to 40 per cent of cases seen in vet clinics are skin-related and she's glad to have the chance to prepare AVC students for cases they may encounter in the field. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

After graduating from the college in 2009, Pye said she's happy to be back to serve her patients on the Island and to be able to teach vet students.

"Having that extra knowledge that I've gained through my extra training I think is really important to help those animals become a lot more comfortable and live a really good life," Pye said.

Pye said 30 to 40 percent of daily cases in vet clinics are skin-related and can often be complex and challenging to treat.

"So all the vet students who are coming through the college being able to get that extra knowledge and graduate being a lot more comfortable dealing with those cases is really going to help them when they're out there in practice," she said.

Patients from across Atlantic Canada

Pye said she sees about three different patients a day at AVC, and that number is growing.

Pye says during exams she often takes small skin samples and tests them under a microscope to look for bacterial infections or mites. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

She said since she's the only veterinary dermatologist in Atlantic Canada, Pye sees patients from all the Maritime provinces and a few from Newfoundland. 

She works mainly with cats, dogs and horses, helping them with various skin conditions including parasites, infections, allergies and some cases of skin cancer.

"A lot of those disease processes are so complex — take allergies for instance — there's so much going on when an animal has allergies, there's lots of different treatment options out there and it's not a one-size-fits-all, you really have to tailor it to the individuals needs," Pye said. 

Pye said during exams she often takes small skin samples and tests them under a microscope to look for bacterial infections or mites. Because each case is unique and can take some time to treat, she said often sees patients on an ongoing basis.

"That's one of the reasons that I decided to specialize in dermatology, I love having that bond with the families that I work with and their pets," Pye said. 

'We're really lucky'

One of those patients is Gerald, a three-year-old pug who has been struggling with several skin conditions over the last year. 

Pye says she sees about three patients a day — including Gerald the pug — and that number is growing. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Gerald's owner Kim Roach said she and her husband thought it was just allergies, until earlier this spring Gerald's skin became so bad they had to rush him in for an emergency visit with their vet. That's when they were referred to Pye. 

"It's extremely comforting to us, especially because Gerald's conditions elevated so quickly," Roach said. "Having her here, we're really lucky." 

Gerald's owner Kim Roach say she tried changing his diet, allergy tests and a lot of different medications, which only seemed to make his skin worse. (Submitted by Kim Roach)

Roach said before bringing Gerald to Pye, she tried changing his diet, allergy tests and a lot of different medications, which only seemed to make his skin worse.

She said at one point, he stopped wanting to play and his skin became too inflamed to touch.

"It's so hard to know with them because they can't really tell us what they're feeling or what's going wrong," Kim said. "We were really grateful that they were able to decide that it wasn't just allergies."

'Having her here, we're really lucky,' says Gerald's owner Kim Roach, right, with husband Dwayne Roach. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Pye has been treating Gerald since June and his owners said the improvement to his skin and quality of life has been amazing.

"He seems to have quite a bit of quality of life back, which is the number one main concern," said Roach.

More P.E.I. news

About the Author

Brittany Spencer is a multi-platform journalist with CBC P.E.I. Email: brittany.spencer@cbc.ca