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Dog Recovering from Serious Skin Disease Caused by Infection

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.

The skin condition made life difficult for Leo but after several months of treatment he is now on the way to a full recovery (credit: MSPCA-Angell)

The skin condition made life difficult for Leo but after several months of treatment he is now on the way to a full recovery (credit: MSPCA-Angell)

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 skin disease, 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.”

For more information about Angell Animal Medical Center’s specialty service readers may click here.




Angell Animal Medical Center cares for more than 50,000 animals a year and is one of the most acclaimed veterinary practices in the country. Angell has 67 doctors and an experienced support staff who work as a team to ensure high quality general wellness, emergency and specialty care. With 31 board-certified specialists and technology that includes an MRI specifically designed for animals, Angell is committed to providing a broad range of specialized expertise and experience, but delivers this care with one-on-one compassion that animals and their owners deserve. Angell is open for emergencies 24 hours of every day of the year, and offers night and weekend appointments with our specialty services.