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The Procedure of Skin Scraping in Veterinary Practice

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A skin scraping can reveal the presence of any abnormal cells occurring on the surface of the skin. It can reveal certain fungus, bacteria, and parasites. By determining the cause of a skin disorder, an effective and appropriate treatment can begin. Skin scraping is when a veterinarian uses the edge of a scalpel blade to “gently” rub off a layer of cells on the part of pets’ skin.

A skin scraping is performed by collecting “a sample of skin cells” with the use of a scalpel blade. With the blade you will gently scrape layers of skin, usually until a small portion of blood is visible. It is important for a small amount of blood to be visible because parasites are suspected to live deep in the skin. Squeezing the skin is also prior to scraping because it will help push the mites out from “the depths of the hair follicles”. Next the skin cell sample that you received will be placed on a microscope slide, mixed with oil and is evaluated under a microscope. Most veterinary clinics will use mineral oil to examine the skin scrape under a microscope. Most of the time results are available within 30 minutes. Sometimes, veterinarians may need a second opinion on the skin scrape and will send the sample to an outside laboratory. If this is done, results may take two to four days.

Tools for this procedure are very simple, much is not needed. For this procedure a specialist needs slides, cover slips, scalpel blade, mineral oil, and a microscope. When viewing the skin scrape under the microscope, a specialist examines the slide under 4x to 10x magnification. By skin scraping he can help to diagnose the following conditions: mites (including scabies), demodex, ring worm, bacterial or yeast infections. Scabies and demodex mites can be directly identified on a skin scraping. For bacterial and yeast infections, they may be diagnosed by a skin scrape or a skin cytology. A skin cytology is a test in which a swab is run “firmly over the skin” and then over the microscope slide. Ringworm can be diagnosed with a skin scrape but sometimes might require a fungal culture. A fungal culture is done by placing a sample of fur or skin on a “special petri dish” and letting it grow for several days to a week. Feet and skin are one of the hardest areas to perform a skin scrape. Face is hard to skin scrape, especially around the eyes because animals tend to move a lot. If the animal moves a lot while you are skin scraping around the eyes you may cut the animal because of how sharp the scalpel is. When performing a skin scrape on the face, be sure to have someone to assist you on restraining the animal.

Any pain involved with skin scraping will just depend on the animal. The level of pain varies from one pet to another, but mostly likely it is not pain that the animal is feeling. Animals will feel more discomfort because they are not use to being restrain, held, or having a blade close to them. When it comes to skin scraping, sedation or anesthesia are not required. Most animals tolerate this procedure quite well.

In conclusion, a skin scraping is a procedure in the veterinary field that helps to reveal the presence of any abnormal cells occurring on the surface of the animal’s skin such as certain fungus, bacteria, and parasites. Of course, this is a painful procedure that requires a lot of patience and strength to hold the animal, but it is quite effective for quick treatment and/or detection of skin diseases. Pain varies from one pet to another, but mostly likely it is not pain that the animal is feeling, it is discomfort.

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The Procedure of Skin Scraping In Veterinary Practice. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from
“The Procedure of Skin Scraping In Veterinary Practice.” GradesFixer, 30 Aug. 2022,
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