Saving  Penelope

How a Local Veterinarian Diagnosed and Treated a Debilitating Bacterial Infection

Most all of us have heard the saying, “A dog is a man’s best friend.” It’s not until you have one that you really understand what this phrase means. I would say that a dog is not only man’s best friend, but a part of the family.

Penelope is our amazing four-year-old Victorian bulldog. One year into her life, we realized she was suffering from severe allergies. After many visits with our local veterinarian and extensive blood work, our best solution at the time was resorting to steroids.

We were excited for this new adventure – for many reasons – including getting Penelope to an allergy-free environment. Or, so we thought.

Within two months of arriving in Chandler, Penelope was in worse condition than we had ever seen. Most of her fur was gone, revealing nothing but an extremely pink skin resulting from severe allergic reactions to our new environment. Not only was her stomach full of sores and blisters, but her appetite drastically decreased and she only wanted to lie in her bed all day and night.

It was at this time we became desperate to save the youngest member of our family. With very little quality of life remaining, we truly weren’t sure how much life remained within her. We reached out to Andrea Stickland at the Animal Medical Center of Chandler. Dr. Stickland was not only patient to listen and learn about the history of Penelope, but calmed our fears and gave us hope.

Through a series of tests, we quickly learned not only exactly what Penelope was allergic to in her new environment, but also that the steroids that had previously kept her stable, were actually damaging her liver. In addition, we found out that she was suffering from an inadequately functioning thyroid, which also contributed to her lack of response.

Therefore, the only medication that had managed to stabilize her health was now failing her as well.

According to Dr. Stickland, Penelope was suffering from some concerning complications. She had a chronic non-responding bacterial infection that with improper medication resulted in methicillin resistant staph pseudointermedius (similar to MRSA).

The long-standing steroid use had significantly decreased her ability to respond to any infection and her skin had become thin. Either through inheritance or long-term steroids, her thyroid was now no longer working correctly, contributing to her weight gain and lethargy, in addition to her chronic skin infections. Controlling hormone imbalance and diligently working with topical therapies to control infection were the only options left.

A few months later, Penelope quickly and amazingly became a happy, healthy and stable member of our family again. Not only that, but she was full of fur, had no pink skin or blisters, and lost 20 pounds, putting her at a very healthy weight for her breed.

Thanks to Dr. Stickland, we not only found hope, but were able to make Penelope whole again. We continue to make regular visits to Dr. Stickland to ensure her stability. Penelope is now on a treatment plan, taking just a few medications, to keep her stable for every season we experience in Chandler.

Learn more about the Animal Medical Center of Chandler at