Dog Recovering from Serious Skin Disease Caused by Infection

A concerned Leo looks to MSPCA-Angell West Dr. Thomas for comfort during treatment
A concerned Leo looks to MSPCA-Angell West Dr. Thomas for comfort during treatment

“Leo” on the Rebound Thanks to Angell Animal Medical Center’s Dermatology Team


BOSTON, July 15, 2014 – A beloved four-year-old Golden Retriever named “Leo” is on the rebound after battling a severe skin disorder that resulted in inflamed and painful lesions, the MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center announced today.  Following aggressive treatment at the MSPCA-Angell West in Waltham—under the care of the hospital’s newest dermatologist—Dr. Ursula Thomas, Leo’s skin is slowly returning to normal, along with his appetite and zest for life.


Sudden Loss of Appetite
According to Leo’s owner, Ellie Loughlin of Cambridge, Mass., Leo fell ill nearly a month ago while Loughlin was traveling in Greece.  He had gone off his food and seemed overly tired.  Fortunately, Loughlin’s pet sitter had the presence of mind to whisk the lethargic canine to the veterinarian, who suspected Leo was suffering from a “hotspot,” a common condition marked by reddened and inflamed skin.  When Leo’s condition did not improve, however, Loughlin suspected the condition was more serious.


“It was clear that something much more sinister was going on and I was determined to get to the bottom of it,” Loughlin said.  “Leo is part of the family and I wanted to ensure we did everything possible to get him the best course of treatment.”


On June 24 Leo was brought to Dr. Ursula Thomas, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist at MSPCA-Angell West, the newly opened 24-7 emergency and specialty animal hospital in Waltham.  It was there that he was diagnosed Erythema Multiforme, a severe skin disease known to affect humans and dogs alike. 


“This particular skin disease can be more serious in dogs than in humans,” said Dr. Thomas, who relayed that it is still unknown whether the skin disease is sparked by a bacterium or a virus (or even drugs).  “When the affected skin cells die off, a typically scaly, inflamed and very painful dermatitis develops as a result.”   


The infection, according to Dr. Thomas, is relatively rare.  “I evaluate about five of these cases per year,” she said.


Dr. Thomas immediately started Leo on a host of anti-inflammatory medications designed to combat the condition and now, after two weeks of treatment, he is getting better.  “He’s responded incredibly well to treatment,” said Dr. Thomas.  “And obviously we are very glad to see him improving every day.”  Dr. Thomas plans to slowly wean the dog off all medications by the end of July.


Loughlin is equally thrilled.  “Just to see his skin improving and the blemishes and red spots slowly dissipating makes me very happy, because I know that with each day that passes he grows more comfortable,” she said.  Loughlin also reports that Leo’s appetite—for both food and play—has returned.  “I feel like I have my old dog back and for that I’m profoundly grateful.”


Leo’s Road Ahead

Dr. Thomas plans to complete Leo’s treatment by the end of July, afterwards she believes he will completely recover. 


Protecting Pets
Dr. Thomas relayed that since veterinarians still do not know the exact cause of Erythema Multiforme it is impossible to fully safeguard against the disease.  “The most important thing to do is just what Ms. Loughlin did: call the veterinarian when something is amiss.  By doing so she quickly got her dog in treatment before the disease got much worse.”



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