Helen Orbell

Board Certified Veterinary Dermatologist

Dr Helen Orbell is the founder and director of the Referral Animal Skin Hospital. She is a boarded registered specialist in veterinary dermatology and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD).

Helen graduated as a veterinarian from The University of Queensland in 2001 and has worked as a small and large animal veterinarian in New Zealand, Australia, the US and the UK. She moved to New Zealand after graduation for her first job as a dairy vet where she fell in love with the lifestyle and her soon to be husband Geoff, also a veterinarian. Together they worked and travelled the world before coming back to Palmerston North in 2011 to work at the Massey University Veterinary Teaching Hospital and to start a family.

Helen worked in general practice at Massey and became a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Surgeons (ANZCS) by examination in Small Animal Medicine. She thoroughly enjoyed her role in the clinic and teaching veterinary students, but she had developed a keen interest in dermatology so when the opportunity arose, she accepted a Residency with Animal Dermatology Clinic (ADC) in 2017. ADC has the largest group of specialist veterinary dermatologists in the world, and they run a highly successful residency training program, so Helen was extremely privileged to be offered the residency position. This was the start of an intense 3 1/2 year program involving in depth study of all aspects of dermatology (including anatomy, immunology, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology, endocrinology, nutrition, oncology and parasitology) in dogs, cats, small mammals, horses, farm animals, birds, fish and reptiles. She completed a research project as part of her residency which was published in Veterinary Quarterly in 2022 titled “An explorative study comparing skin surface lipids in the West Highland white terrier dog with and without atopic dermatitis”. Helen successfully completed her residency and passed the Board examination to become a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology and a Registered Specialist with the New Zealand Veterinary Council in 2021.

Helen worked for ADC at Massey University until May 2023, when she opened the Referral Animal Skin Hospital. She is active in providing continuing education in dermatology for vets in New Zealand, in teaching veterinary students and is passionate about continuing to improve the standard of care that veterinarians provide for their patients and clients.

Helen is interested in all aspects of her chosen career, but particularly enjoys the challenge presented by chronic skin and ear disease involving the diagnosis of the underlying cause and implementing individualised treatment and management plans.

Helen Orbell
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