CASE REPORT: Skin necrosis secondary sunburn in a brown Dachshund

17 May 2021 – News

CASE REPORT: Skin necrosis secondary sunburn in a brown Dachshund

Solar radiation may damage skin either directly or due to thermal injury (via thermal necrosis). The most affected areas are non-pigmented or sparsely haired zones, but dark skin should not be forgotten. In fact, it is important to consider that black skin absorbs way more solar energy than unpigmented skin and cases of “dorsal thermal necrosis” were already described in the black spots of Dalmatians.

The following case occurred in a 5-year-old brown Dachshund dog. He developed a thermal third-degree burn secondary to direct sunlight 45-minute exposure outdoors in high ambient temperatures. When the owners noticed his discomfort (recumbency and panting), he was brought inside, placed by a fan, and cooled with wet towels. The owners reinforced that the dog was not hosed down whilst in the garden and he had been lying in the sun. Coalescing nodules were visible on the dog’s back after four days, and twelve days after the exposure they started draining. The dog was seen by a veterinarian, who prescribed enrofloxacin, amoxicillin/clavulanic acid and tramadol but, as the lesion was progressing, he was taken to a reference hospital.

At the hospital, the dog was slightly dehydrated and with a mildly elevated temperature. The blood and biochemical exams revealed mild lymphopenia and monocytosis and elevated ALT and AST. Over the entire dorsum, there was a full-thickness skin necrosis, with purulent material draining from beneath the eschar. Granulation tissue and area of re-epithelization were also visible. The management plan included fluid therapy, a constant rate infusion of fentanyl and surgical debridement of the eschar.

After debridement, dressings were changed daily, a fentanyl patch was put in place, transdermal meloxicam was administered and both gabapentin and tramadol were given orally. The previously prescribed antibiotics continued for two weeks however it is important to highlight that the use of systemic antibiotic therapy is controversial; the use of topical silver sulfadiazine as an alternative should be evaluated. Histopathology showed diffuse necrosis and hemorrhage of the epidermis and dermis extending to the subcutis, with multifocal areas of infiltration of the subcutis by neutrophils.

Twelve days after the presentation, the lesion was almost healed, and the patient was doing well.

Sumner, J. P., Pucheu-Haston, C. M., Fowlkes, N., & Merchant, S. (2016). Dorsal skin necrosis secondary to a solar-induced thermal burn in a brown-coated dachshund. The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne, 57(3), 305–308.