Tuesday, November 23, 2010

IMHA Is Not To Be Taken Lightly: Know The Symptoms

This story is shared with us by Susan Rakay. She has lost her dog to IMHA and she wanted to raise awareness of this condition because with IMHA time is of the essence.

Please do learn when your dog's symptoms are truly serious and require immediate medical attention!

I have already written about IMHA in Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: Razzle's Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) article, and Dr. Mahaney shared the story of his dog Cardiff and Battling IMHA With Integrative Veterinary Medicine.

Razzle and Cardiff won their battle. Nikki wasn't so lucky.

Nikki's Story

It will be a year this coming Saturday that I lost Nikkilodiean to something I knew nothing about. She was my first dog ever but other dog owners I spoke to knew nothing about this disease either.

I took very good care of my little girl, vet visits when needed, grooming every month and brushing her teeth every day.

But one day hen I brushed her teeth her gums looked white and she was breathing as if she had a cold.

I thought it was a cold so I took her to the vet.

She was diagnosed with a severe case of IMHA

I immediately took her to the vet hospital in Phoenix and they did a blood transfusion, put her on IV, did a test to check for internal bleeding and other blood test. They could find no bleeding anywhere but she keep getting weaker and weaker.

Immune mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) is a disease in which the body attacks its own red blood cells. To read more about IMHA check out the Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: Razzle's Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) article.

Nikki stopped eating and got to the point where she didn't recognize me and she just wanted to sleep.

The vet kept telling me to give it time but after three days I was seeing no improvement and didn't want her to be in pain.  Nothing they did made any difference and I saw her slipping away before my eyes.  They said they didn't think she was in pain but I knew she was dying. I wanted to take her home (200 miles away) to the place she loved.

I brought her home to my vet during the day and she spent the nights with me.

I would sleep all day and stay up with her at night.  On the third day of doing this while I was sleeping my vet called and said to get there as soon as possible.  I dressed very quickly and rushed to the vet that was only two miles away but by the time I arrived my beloved little girl had already passed.

My vet and the animal hospital said I did everything I could for her. (I'm still paying the vet hospital bill of over $4,000).

But I know that if someone, anyone had told me about this disease/illness I would have kept an eye out of it and gotten her to the vet/hospital sooner and she may had lived.

I want to put the word out there about this.

Please be aware and if you see these symptoms in you dog, get them to the vet IMMEDIATELY no matter what the time is (even if it is the middle of the night pay the extra money and get you dog there quickly) as it may save their life!

What symptoms should you watch for?

Your dog will be obviously weak. He or she will have no energy and have lost interest in food. Urine will be dark orange or maybe even brown. The gums, as well as the whites of the eyes, will be pale or even yellow-tinged. There may be a fever. You (hopefully) brought your pet to the veterinarian’s office as soon as it was clear that there was something wrong.

It's your dog's health!
Jana

Related articles:
Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: Razzle's Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA)
Battling IMHA With Integrative Veterinary Medicine (part 1)
Battling IMHA With Integrative Veterinary Medicine (part 2)

Further reading:
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA)

127 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. It is a sad story, but will be a happy one if it makes even one more Human aware of this disease.
    Hawk aka BrownDog

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  2. So sorry you had to go through that. Hopefully, Nikki's story will help prevent even one more dog from being lost to IMHA. Everyone, familiarize yourself with your dog's "normal" behavior, appearance, and vitals so you can quickly realize when something is wrong. The more quickly you figure out there is something up, the more likely a favorable outcome is. It looks like I am going to lose my beautiful Golden to some type of nasal granulomas (biopsy inconclusive) sometime in the coming months. If we had realized the abnormality in his breathing behavior, who knows how much more time we would have been able to give him, but it was just such a gradual development that we had no idea.

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  3. Thank you guys for reading. You're right, hopefully Nikky's story can save many dogs.

    Mary, so sorry to hear. Yes, some conditions do sneak up with their gradual development. That why I believe in paranoia.

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  4. Our shih-tzu, who is now 10 1/2 years old and 9-10 pounds, was diagnosed with IMHA in November 2008. Our vet immediately sent us to a local animal hospital (24 hour) who specialized in treating this disorder. Our pup immediately had a nursing care around the clock, a hematologist, and an internist. He received the transfusion. We visited in the waiting room giving our doggy TLC. He was released three days later with a variety of medications such as Prednisone, Azothioprine, and Phenobarbitol (prescribed for seizures prior to IMHA). A local pharmacy specializes in compounding the Azothioprine to be the correct milligrams for our small shih-tzu. All vaccinations were halted for life, as the vet believes this is the culprit. We thought he was well on his way to good health, and he endured a surgery the summer of 2009. The vet slowly took our pup off of the IMHA medication. It was The summer of 2010 that IMHA returned, and we were told the second time is life threatening. Our shih-tzu took well to the blood transfusion, but the 24 hour animal hospital wanted to continue to test for the cause. We stopped testing after consulting with our vet as we felt it was a money maker/science study that was being funded from our pockets. Our doggy has been on the medication, and will remain for life. He is between 9-10 pounds. He currently takes 2.5 mg of Prednisone every other day, 6.25 mg (compounded) of Azothioprine daily, and his phenobarbitol was increased to 16.2 (twice daily) because the second bout of the IMHA caused him to have focal seizures. With the second time around he can only eat rice with ground sirloin. This is the only regiment that doesn't make him sick. Dog food caused diarrhea and/or vomiting. It is now the summer of 2011 and he is doing well. I share this story to shed some light on information that may be helpful to fellow dog owners who may need to become the advocate for their pups if/when they are diagnosed with IMHA. Ask for the blood test that requires the blood to be spun to see the red cell count. This is how we knew he had IMHA as his red cell count was so low (IMHA is when the immune system attack the red blood cells). This is what causes the gums, tongue, and inside of the ears to become white. If you see any of these symptoms take your doggy in immediately. Also lethargic behavior and not wanting to eat are other signs we saw. There is hope for dogs who suffer from this. Best wishes to all pet owners!

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing! IMHA is a NASTY stuff! Glad your dog made it through all that! Yes, there is hope, there are some cases who make it through and continue to live good lives. Time is of the essence when dealing with this one.

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  6. My stepdaughter called me last night and told me that their Buster, a 10yr old rottie mix was just diagnosed with IMHA on 8-24-11. They just got back from a camping trip on 8-22-11 and while on the trip he was fine. Playing, running, fetching etc. On the morning of 8-23 he didn't want to eat and in the evening he wouldn't eat either. They took him to the vet first thing 8-24 his levels were 11. He has so far rec'vd One transfusion. His #'s went back to 35 but last night, they were down to 24. Please say a Prayer for Busterboy and Albert and Lisa. He's their only child.

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  7. Good thoughts and prayers for Busterboy. IMHA can be battled when caught early, which they did.

    You might want to check out other related articles on my blog, TCVM also successful dealing with IMHA.

    Is he on steroids also?

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  8. I have never heard of IMHA until 8/17/11 I have a one and half year old Rotti and found him with white gums and very lethargic when coming home from work. I immediately called the vet and was told to rush him in. They did blood work and his RBC was 2.10 and PLT 22 at which time I was told to take him to the Emergency Hospital which would be able to take care of him in the critical state he was in. Several blood test were done and a central line was placed along with IV fluids. Three days later (8/19) I was allowed to bring him home.
    He is on 120mg of predisone daily and when the last blood test was done on 8/23 his RBC was 2.79 with the PLT at 54. He is doing better, but not his playful self, he is eating and drinking fine and urine is still clear. The doctors have informed me the tick titer and other labs have all come back negative, so we still do not know the underlying cause. We will return in 10 more days to recheck the blood levels (CBC, Blood Smear, Liver panel) and see where he is at.

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  9. Fast action is the key, glad your dog go immediate help! Glad he's doing better. When was the last time he was vaccinated? Sadly, sometimes IMHA happens as a result of over-vaccination, among other things.

    You might find it helpful to read some of my articles on TCVM, particularly one of my veterinary friend's dog also has IMHA and the TCVM is really helping:

    http://dawgbusiness.blogspot.com/2010/09/battling-imha-with-integrative.html

    http://dawgbusiness.blogspot.com/2010/09/battling-imha-with-integrative_21.html

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    1. It is with a brokenen heart that I tell you I lost my 8 yrd old Doxie Ruby yesterday to IMHA. She was diagnosed about three weeks ago. What Im having trouble living with is the fact that I gave all three of my doxies 1000mg of garlic tab in their food to prevent heartworm/fleas. I told my vet a year ago I was giving it and he said nothing. A homepathic doctor I contacted said that some studies say garlic is toxic to dogs.Well I researched it and he was right. I was giving a 20lb dog adult doses nearly everyday for over a year! My other two boys seem fine but I am having them checked. I loved her so very much and she loved me. I cannot live with the guilt that I probably killed her. Its excruciating. She was my best friend.

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    2. So sorry about Ruby. IMHA is a destruction of blood cells by body's own immune system. So to me, this is a different scenario from potential anemia caused by large doses of garlic.

      I can't see how garlic could be a trigger for IMHA. As I said, IMHA is an autoimmune disease. I am not aware of any correlation between the two.

      Anemia and IMHA also shouldn't be easy to mix up in the diagnosis, as they are different processes with different symptoms.

      Personally, I don't see a relationship between garlic and IMHA.

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    3. The symptoms of garlic toxicity should be much more gradual and progressive, than they are with IMHA, which hits fast and hard.

      At low level, withdrawing the garlic from the diet should be all that's needed. Death to serious garlic toxicity is possible, but should not be diagnosed as IMHA.

      Could garlic toxicity be diagnosed as IMHA?

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  10. I am so sorry for your loss. I also had never heard of IMHA until my 13-month-old golden was diagnosed with the disease. On the night of 8/18/11 we were going to bed and I was petting him on his stomach and his groin area felt like he was on fire. I took him to the local animal emergency center and he was diagnosed. He was put on IV and was given meds. On Thursday he was given his first transfusion. He got to come home on Saturday and he seemed to be doing better. On Monday he again was very lethergic and the vet said that he was very bad. I thought that I had lost him. On Tuesday morning he had two more transfusions and a splenectomy. After three days he got to come home again. His vet said that he is holding his own. His blood values are going up slightly every time they are tested. With Murphy being just a puppy it is so hard for me to watch him just lay around. Not like my Murphy who would run and jump and play with me. I know that his recovery is going to be a long road so I just take one day at a time. I do agree that if you have a dog who has the symptoms the only thing to do is get them to the vet as soon as possible.

    Jan Campbell & Murphy

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  11. Hi Jan. So sad when one's dog gets sick. Glad that Murphy is pushing through. Sounds like he's a trooper and going to make it!

    Yes, recognizing serious symptoms and taking action is crucial in cases such as with IMHA.

    Healing thoughts for Murphy.

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  12. Our 9 year old Corgi/Shepard mix, Abby, was diagnosed with IMHA about 30 days ago. Neither I nor anyone I knew had any idea what it was. It came on rather slowly; lethargy, lack of eating, paleness, and progressively heavy/fast breathing over a period of 3 days. When we took her to the vet here hematocrit came back at 24 and at 22 the following day. In the first three days we were at our vet 4 times (twice in one day). She's an abdominal and chest x-ray which both came back negative. We were lucky she did not require a transfusion.

    She was on high doses of prednisone for two weeks and now we're down to 1 pill a day. She's had weekly hematocrits as well. A week ago she started a antibiotic for a UTI as well. Her last two hematocrits came back at 40 and 37 but they don't show signs of further break down of her red blood cells. We're now going the next two weeks as we are because we're not totally sure if her numbers are equalizing because we have no way of knowing what "normal" was for her.

    She's definitely not the same dog as a month ago. She's not as playful, she sleeps more than she did, she tires easily, she's still not recovered her prior strength, and she's eating like a piglet, but drinking normally. I'm trying to find "natural" things, like foods, I can do to help support her as she goes through.

    I totally agree that you have to get your dog to the vet asap. And you need to vigilant in learning what are "normal" behaviors for your pup so you'll recognize when something's off.

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  13. Hi J. Glad she seems to be stabilizing, but from her behavior something is still going on.

    There are couple articles here on dealing with IMHA with TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) You can also contact Dr. Patrick directly, information on the posts.

    Battling IMHA with Integrative Veterinary Medicine (Part 1)

    Battling IMHA with Integrative Veterinary Medicine (Part 2)

    Good luck and healing thoughts to Abby.

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  14. Hi. my names Kenji. my mate Leon was diagnosed with IMHA last week. He was super fine back then, even at the vet he was charming as usual, he walked around n greeted everyone. they gave me the pills but 3 days later he got really really weak to the point he couldnt even sit up to eat or drink. I took him to the vet but it was too late. I believe his life was taken because the Lord allowed it. it wasn't a mistake. and I know that I cant blame anyone but Ive been asking myself and the Lord, Why... why my leon had to go. why couldnt I do more to help. why.. the list goes on. I may be sad but I'm more confused at the moment.
    Praying for all that are fighting against the disease.

    K

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    1. Im so sorry Kenji..I lost my beloved dachsund yesterday. i am sick with grief and guilt believeng the large doses of garlic i gave her for "health" killed her. I read its toxic. I am a Christian as well. But the guilt is overwhelming.

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    2. So sorry about your baby. How large were the doses? Truly large doses can cause anemia, but it is a different kind than IMHA, which is autoimmune. What exactly was the diagnosis?

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    3. Hey I've just read your comment. I am terribly sorry to hear about your friend. I hope you are coping by now. one and a half years have passed since my beloved buddy Leon went to Heaven. you know to tell you the truth I'd still blame myself sometimes. not because I have no one else to blame, it's because I know that he did not die in vain and...I really, really didn't want him to go. But now I am sure that Leon must be much happier up There and waiting for me.(well, I hope!) All we can do for now is pray, my friend.

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  15. Hi Kenji, so sorry about Leon. Yes, sometimes it is just their time to go. Knowing and recognizing early symptoms might be helpful in seeking help soon enough. But sometimes things are just meant to be certain way. (((hugs)))

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  16. Thanks Jana.
    How did you get through this?

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  17. The story above wasn't our dog, it was friend's dog. We had a dog die quickly and mysteriously too though.

    One day she fell, for some reason we couldn't see. She was fine after. Than at night she was whimpering. Next day we took her to a vet and they diagnosed her with tooth abscess. She kept falling and they said it was from fever and pain. The next day she got seizures and that was that.

    It's about the quality of life they had with you while they were around.

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  18. oh thats terrible. Im sorry to hear that...
    well a friend told me last night that they say dogs can sense anything and they send you many signals to express themselves. and then it hit me. I remember Leon had been clingy to me since summer and I always found it strange but I think I know why now. I want to believe that he felt secure around me till the very last minute of his life.

    I'm sure your dog is in a better place.

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  19. I'm sure he did. Your company meant a lot to him.

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  20. Thanks.. Im telling everyone about this evil disease to help prevent loved ones from being lost to it. I really appreciate what you do and this webpage.

    Much love

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  21. MY DOG SASSY IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION SHE IS AT ALLCARE HOSPITAL IN COASTA MESA SHE HAS HAD ONE TRANSFUSION BUT IS STILL CRITICAL I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO OR WHERE TO GO I WAS GIVEN A TOTAL OF 4500 ESTIMATE THE NIGHT I BROUGHT HER IN ... TODAY I WAS TOLD IT WOULD BE MORE I WROTE A CHECK THAT IS DUE TO GO THROUGH ON MONDAY FOR 2250 OTHERWISE SHE WOULD HAVE DIED .. HER BLOOD LEVELS WERE AT 13 .... SHE HAS IMHA AND I AM TRYING TO SAVE HER SHE IS MY LIFE AND ONLY 6 YRS OLD BEFORE GOING TO COAST MESA SHE WAS BEING TREATED AT VCA IN PALM SPRINGS WE MANAGED TO PAY THE TOTAL BILL THERE IN CASH WAS BETWEEN 500-600 BUT I WAS DESPERATE TO SAVE HER NOW I DON'T KNOW HOW IM GONNA COME UP WITH THE DEPOSIT OF 2250 LET ALONE THE TOTAL AND WAS TOLD IF SHE NEEDS ANOTHER TRANSFUSION THAT THEY WOULD NOT GIVE IT TO HER UNLESS WE WERE UP TO DATE ... I TRIED TO APPLY FOR CARECREDIT ...... AND HAVE BEEN SCRAMBLING TO FIND A WAY I DONT HAVE A PROBLEM I CAN MAKE MONTHLY PAYMENTS BUT I NEED SOME HELP TO FIND A WAY PLEASE I AM DESPERATE

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  22. So sorry about Sassy. CareCredit should get approved quite fast if you have a proof that you can make monthly payments?

    We could blog for help but from experience I know that raising higher amounts takes a long time. How about a line of credit at your bank? If you have any investments or retirement plan with them the should make it work quickly ...?

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  23. Good afternoon,
    I lost my beautiful soul mate - Ricky my 8.5 year old Chihuahua on Saturday to this awful disease. It came out of nowhere. The week before I noticed he was 20% not himself but I thought maybe it was some sort of cold. On Monday he didn't want to eat anything, and then Tuesday he also didn't' want to eat anything - and I also noticed that his urine was a dark orange(Brown). So I made a quick appt for my husband to take him to the vet on Wed. All the blood work was done but unfortunately you have to wait 24 hours for blood work. On Thursday afternoon, I called my vet and it seemed like Ricky's Red Blood Count (BillyReuben) level was way off. So the vet asked that I rush him to the vet, I left work immediately took Ricky to the vet with my husband. The vet told us that Ricky was diagnose IMHA. She asked that we leave him in the animal hospital so he can get proper treatment, Steroids, IV, and some sort of antibiotic since he was running a small fever 40c.

    On Wed his red blood cells where in his 30s. However on Thursday since since she was giving him IV, they dropped down to 18. But she expected that since she was flushing his body out with IVs. She said that the steroids wont' start working for a couple days but Ricky is stable and has a great outcome. Ricky was lethargic, he didn't' want to eat or drink, but he was fully alert and soo happy to see us.

    We went and visited him for 2 hours on Thursday afternoon/evening. Little did I know that was going to be the last day I see my precious angel.
    We cuddled and held him as he was hooked up to his IV. He was so happy to see us as he was panting and giving us small kisses.
    He just wanted to sleep with us.
    After 2 hours, I gave him a kiss goodbye and said "see you in the morning" He had these beautiful brown eyes and was like "mommy where you going, dont' leave me"

    On Saturday morning, my husband and I woke up and started getting ready to go visit my sweet baby where we got that awful call. The vet said "I have some bad news, Ricky passed at night time - he probably had a thromboembolism (Blood clot) which is a huge risk during IMHA. Apparently when the vet came in the morning, he had his blanket still on top of him, so he died peacefully in his sleep. My husband and I are so grief striken and so upset by this. We dont' understand how God could have taken our amazing angel away from us. We loved him so much and treated him like our precious baby - which he is.

    I have so many "What ifs" such as :
    - What if I took him to an 24 hour hospital where they had night care, could they have saved him. My vet says "probably No" Because a blood clot is impossible to cure when it happens.

    - What if I done something wrong? What if I gave my cold to my dog? And thats' how he got this immune disease?

    - What if we got a blood transfusion. Which the vet thought Ricky was stable and didn't' require at the time.

    His little brother (Baily also a chihuahua) is so sad and deeply missing his brother.

    Our lives have turned upside down without our little angel.

    The only thing that is slowly letting me live, is that a lot of people say that when dogs die - they go to heaven because their souls are so pure and that they can see us and hear us, and they are happy and not sad.

    Does anyone know if there is a legit organization that is currently trying to cure IMHA? I would like to make a donation on behalf of my sweet angel Ricky.

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  24. Hi, hon, so sorry for your loss.

    I'm quite sure you didn't give your dog your cold, there are only very few viruses that affect both humans and dogs, common cold and common flu cannot transfer from you to your dog.

    I think you did your best, and that, at the end, is all you can do.

    Having him in a hospital with 24hour care/supervision might have been a good idea, but there is no telling whether it would have actually saved him.

    I think that sometimes it's just their time.

    Was Ricky vaccinated shortly before this happened? Are you vaccinating your dogs discriminately?

    Think of the good times you had together.

    Autoimmune diseases are quite terrible and IMHA is probably the worst of them.

    I think that Meisha's Hope at the Morris Animal Foundation is an account set up specifically to fund humane canine health studies of autoimmune/immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.
    http://www.cloudnet.com/~jdickson/newhope.htm

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  25. Hi there, it's me again - Ricky's Mom.
    No he hasn't been getting vaccinations for a couple years because he had allergic reactions to all vaccinations we gave him. So we just did medical health examinations on him and checked his liver blood counts to ensure that he is always stable. About 4 years ago he was diagnosed with liver damage, but we got through it and gave him Zentonyl and Milk Thistle every day. His blood counts were completely stable and the vet checked his blood counts that day and they were completely fine.

    I'm so sad I couldn't save Ricky. I know he depended on me.... I remember seeing him the last night...and he wanted to so badly come home with us....so sad.

    Do you know if a dog can be saved if he gets a thromboembolism? We didn't do an autopsy ( I didn't have the heart for his body to be cut open) but my vet suspects since his blanked will still on top of him and there was no struggle - she thinks he died of that at night time :(

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  26. My heart goes out to you, I know how devastating this is.

    The upside, I think, is that since the blanket was undisturbed, he indeed died peacefully, probably in his sleep. So there is comfort in that.

    Thromboembolism is a complication of IMHA and it seems to be the one that has a major impact on mortality.

    Based on 2002 study, of dogs that died to IMHA, 80% had thromboembolism present on necropsy (autopsy).

    A study from 2005 cites 100% of dogs that died showed thromboembolism on necropsy (autopsy).

    Seems that if that happens the chances are quite slim. I suggest you read the below article, or other materials and learn more about this condition. Should this happen to you again, you might be better prepared. I think that's the best thing you can do for Ricky.
    http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1390

    I'm sure that Ricky wouldn't want you to feel bad. Bad things happen and sometimes one just cannot do anything about it.

    My dad's death is an example of such a thing. He had a bad heart, and survived a heart attack; yet, his untimely death had nothing to do with his heart at all. He effectively died of food poisoning.

    One bad slice of deli - that's all it took. Combination of his blood thinner medications and being sick resulted in him basically ripping his insides apart and bleeding out internally.

    As pointless and unfair as that seems, how do we know how much pain and suffering later on did that save him? So since I don't know that, I accept the circumstances of his death as something what was meant to happen for one reason or another. I cherish his memory and feel that he might have been spared worse suffering. Having to die in pain from cancer maybe, who knows... You know? Perhaps there is a purpose in everything that happens.

    Love
    Jana

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  27. PS: what we could do, is share Ricky's story in a post (such as the one you commented on); so more people can learn about this disease and maybe be able to save their dogs' lives. That could be Ricky's legacy. Let me know if you want to do that.

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  28. i too have a chihuahua who has IMHA never heard of this awful disease before and have had pets all my life. went to work all was well. got home my hayley did not act like herself. i do not know why but picked her up to look at her gums... off to the vet where we were told of this awful disease.then we were sent to critical care animal hospital she had a transfusion and i.v.s put on her meds . she has done very wellfrom get go after the 4 hours of the transfusion . hayley wanted to eat and drink. she started having wasting from the predisone... so cut the dose and she is more like herself now . her pcv went up from 8 after the transfusion it was at 24 the next day it was 25 now after 4 weeks it is 40 . we are going to send her to physical therapy with laser to build back back legs we hope for this. and get her a wheel chair to help her along. we are not out of the woods many things can happen with IMHA it is very scary and we feel it is her shots she had such a bad reaction she has a wavior on all shots.i too am writing the local newspaper to get the word out for other pet owners. this is a awful terrible disease that no dog or cat should have to ever have. and there are meds that a pet uses can trigger this sulfonamines,cephalosprin,penicillin,vaccines,procainaminde,bee stings, bug bites,fles topicial or pill,and other reasons unknown it is never cured ever and very scary but their is remission.such a very heartbreaking thing for any family and never knowing as our pets are just not pets to each who have them they are your baby no matter the size of the pet they are your baby not just a dog or cat.i am so very sorry for those who have lost and those who as my baby is going through. and to all the pet parents. as my heart is heavy too as i know i can lose my baby at any given time. thanks for all who puts this word out to this disease. not many know and the ones who is because they have had to face this terrible disease.i am still reading as much as i can to know more about what to look for and how to help my baby all i can.we will fight this disease and do what we can.and that is all any pet parent can do we are truely helpless to do anymore and trust in our babies vet... but speak up and ask questions i have learned this. we are their voice.

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    1. We truly are. Being aware of the signs that our dogs might be in dire danger is important. The sooner they get treatment, the better their odds.

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    2. I also have lived with dogs my whole life and none of them ever has anything like this. I adopted my dog about three years ago. She already had multiple health issues: cataracts, glaucoma, bilateral luxating patella, collapsing trachea. Less than a year later she was diagnosed with IVDD. Nine days ago, she became very weak. I looked at her gums and they were white. I gave her a little honey thinking she was hypoglycemic. She showed no improvement so I took her to the doctor who said to leave her and they would call me to pick her up. I wasn't gone an hour before the vet called back and said pick her up immediately and get her to an animal 911. She had a blood transfusion and is now on three different meds and doing better, but I am told she is not out of the woods. I want her to be able to play with other dogs and go to her groomers again, but I guess that won't happen for a long time/ That is okay inorder to keep her alive

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    3. It was very good you took her to the vet right away, time is of the essence with IMHA. Glad she is improving. Best wishes for recovery.

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  29. Our 10 year old rat terrier Ralph was diagnosed with IMHA last December. He was not acting like himself for a couple days, then he stopped eating, and was very warm. We took him into the vet the next morning and they suspected that it was IMHA and started him on predisone while we waited for the labs to come back. The labs confirmed the IMHA and we admitted him to a hospital with an autoimmune specialist. After six days in the hospital, three blood transfusions, daily acupuncture, and daily cocktails of predisone, cyclosporine, and lefluedomide, they were able to get the IMHA under control and released him. It has been almost 4 months and he has been off medication for 7 weeks now and is back to his spunky, playful self. There were so many times during the treatment we thought we were going to lose him and were wondering if it was best for him to continue treatment. We are so grateful to his doctors and the staff at the hospital that told us to hang in there and give the medications a chance to work.

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    1. Hi Sunny, so glad to hear about Ralph's recovery! IMHA is tough to deal with and watch. We had some very hard times with Jasmine also, but as long as the icu vets felt she was going to make a recovery we kept fighting for her. While we too had our doubts whether we were just prolonging her suffering, we are glad we hung in there. She is loving life and we are happy that we could have given her the extra years she wouldn't have had if we gave up.

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  30. It is so nice to read other stories. And yet I still don't know if I did the right thing for my baby girl. Her name was Tinkerbell 5years old rat terrier she was so fun and sweet and she loved me and much as I will always love her. She was fine one day playing chasing her tail and the next ,not eating , sleeping , gums where white I knew this wasn't good. Took her to the vet the next day her counts were at 25 they gave me meds the. Next day she was worse 15 they told double meds gave her iv and was to bring her back in the. Morning . I did that next day her counts where at 10 they said she needed blood transfusion. I was not going to make her suffer anymore she could hold her head up she didn't know what was going on eyes were just glazed. She was gone already. I couldn't put her though that . And I only hope she will understand and forgive me for having to make that choice for her . I wish Iwould have had more time and info. Tink was my baby. I will always love her and miss her. Some day we will be together . If tears could build a stairway.And a memories a lane. Id walk right up to heaven and bring you home again . RIP Tink 4/28/12

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    1. Linda, so sorry about Tinkerbell. You made the decision with love in your heart and she knew that.

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  31. I am sorry for all your loses,I know the terrible pain you feel. On April 7th 2011 my 11 year old yorkie/maltese Bridgette woke up sick. She had been fine the night before running around with her 2 sisters. It was 7;30 in th morning and I had taken them out, upon coming in she didn't want to eat she just sat and looked dazed. She colasped and cried at which point I left for the vets. My vet was not in but another vet checked her and said when he listened to her lungs it sounded like she had a little fluid on them and also a heart murmur which she hadn't had before. He told me we should wait until the following Tuesday and gave us some fluids pills. He also said if she had another episode to bring her back. When I got her home she slept for a while and then almost seemed like she was having a seizure. Again I returned to the vet at which time he took a chest xray. Again we returned home. She slept for a while and then started throwing up. It was now late Saturday afternoon and I had to call the Vet as they were closed, he said he'd meet me there. It was 4:30 PM the day before Easter that I kissed my sweet precious Bridgette good bye. He wanted to keep her and watch her. He call later that night that they thought it was IMHA. She was given large doses of Predisone and a transfusion. On Easter he said she was holding her own but her red blood cell count was very low. Easter Monday morning I was hurrying to get ready to go to the clinic to see her as it was again open and I received a call from my Vet that Bridgette had passed away. It was the worst day of my life, its now been 6 weeks and I just can't get over the pain or lose I feel. I hope no one has to go threw it. I wasn't even aware that IMHA even exisited

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    1. So sorry about Bridgette (((hugs))); I can only imagine how devastated you must be. We have lost a dog to a sudden decline once, the cause was undetermined then as we didn't have the money to spend on necropsy and figured it wasn't going to bring her back. We also had our share of dramas with Jasmine, from which she fortunately bounced back.

      Were there no symptoms such as pale gums and change in urine color? Usually a vet is able to diagnose IMHA rather readily.

      If you'd like, I'd be happy to feature Bridgette's story on the blog.

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    2. My names Holly, Thank you for your kind words. We have had quite the year with our dogs, our 5 year old yorkie Bella had to have a ventral slot surgery in January. We had to travel to St Paul MN twice for that, we live in ND. We are so very happy that they were able to help her. She had a spinal compression which caused her to fall on her face for monthes. Bridgette was fine the night before no signs of anything,urine color was normal. When I first took her out that morning she seemed fine, but within a hour she started to set and not want to move, then she feel backward over and cried out. This was not normal for her, I had never heard her cry out before. I keep going over it and try to figure out what could have done this or what could have been done for her that wasn't. I know it won't bring her back. They to said they could have tried to figure out what could have caused it after she was gone but I didn't want them to do anything to her, she had been threw enough. My heart breaks every morning when she's not here to greet me or tap me that she'd like a treat. My heart goes out to anyone who has gone threw this.

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    3. Hi, Holly, nice to meet you. Wow, it never rains, it pours, doesn't it?

      Glad Bella is doing quite well.

      You've done all you could have - took her to a vet. You have nothing to blame yourself for. IMHA, if that's what it was, can strike fast and hard.

      You know, sometimes things happen for a reason. My dad died quite suddenly - basically from food poisoning ... he was on blood thinners and as he was sick he basically ripped up his inside and bled out internally. Seems so senseless. But the thing is, we'll never know what potential future suffering he might have been spared this way.

      The thing is that one needs to live one day at a time, cherish when the day gives and that is really all that can be done.

      (((hugs)))

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  32. Thanks again for the visit, it helps to talk. My regular vet said it was IMHA, he was called in the first night to help with her. I don't have all the detailes yet of every thing that was done for her, I know there was a belly tap, blood work, transfusion and preidsisone, he said we would discuss it when I was ready. I've tried but just can't get to that point yet. When I know everything I will let you know. Thanks again, You've helped alot.

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    1. Glad I could help a bit. Whenever you ready. (((hugs)))

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  33. They say that this could be brought on by the shots that the dogs get. Should they be getting all these shot I wonder.

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    1. Yes, that is one of the possible causes. Vaccinations are a hot topic, many dogs indeed are getting over-vaccinated. It is important to know the latest AAHA guidelines and create an individual vaccination plan for each dog.

      Are too many vaccinations bad for adult dogs?


      Dog vaccinations – what not to do

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  34. We just lost our Australian Shepherd, Bonnie, to IMHA complications. Like everyone else here, we never heard of the disease until April 28th. She survived the initial event and was put on prednisone and immune suppressants, but died from a horrible internal fungal infection. The infection wasn't diagnosed until it spread to her spinal cord and she couldn't walk. We had to let her go when it moved into her lungs. She was on a ventilator when we said our goodbyes. Unfortunately we realize she must have suffered terribly while the infection was spreading. We would have done anything to save her. We sure miss her.

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    1. Oh, no, so sorry about Bonnie :-( So unfortunate, that she made it through the initial event and then the infection happened. She is in a better place now and she knows how much you loved her.

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    2. I just lost my Australian Shepherd, Lucy in the EXACT same way. Odd. I would like to talk to you about it. Lucy developed IMHA in June 2012, required 6 blood transfusions (per the critical care vets, she had one of the worst cases they had seen). She surprisingly recoved and came home after a week in the hospital. One week later, she was taken to surgery for a ruptured gastric ulcer and sepsis....caused by a FUNGUS! Ultimately, she had 2 surgeries and was on multiple antibiotic injections and amphotericin B for the fungus. After a 3 month battle, Lucy died from complications of the fungus. She was only 1.5 yrs old. I miss her terribly...and have 40K in vet bills to pay.

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    3. Amy, I'm so sorry for your loss. Bonnie's been gone 4 months now and we still miss her so much. Can't believe such a horrible thing could happen to such a wonderful beautiful dog. With the help of stomach medications, Bonnie tolerated the medications ok. She didn't develop ulcers or gastric issues. After Bonnie couldn't walk, they did ultrasound and exploratory surgery and found the fungus in her liver. An MRI confirmed that it spread to her spine. I didn't find out the name of the fungus, but was told they usually breath it in, can just be common in soil or gardens. Immune system normally takes care of it, no problem, but with IMHA the immune system is attacking them, then they take immune suppressants and can't fight off the fungus. I was also told that even in a normal healthy dog, fungal infections are hard to treat and take a long time, like 4-6 months. I have found some solace along with information on the Lyndis Legacy website and facebook page. It's so hard not knowing how they get this or why.

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  35. My dog Honey died yesterday from complications of IMHA, and like others here, I had never heard of it. I realized after the fact that she had symptoms for awhile, but we attributed them to other things. I know there are always what-ifs, but I really wish we'd had more time with her.

    Honey's symptoms started with coughing and vomiting. She wouldn't eat and was really lethargic.

    I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

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    1. So sorry about Honey! (((hugs)))

      Coughing and vomiting? Sounds to me there was something else going on there? Something else behind the IMHA? As those don't sound like typical symptoms to me ... lethargy and anorexia yes, but coughing and vomiting no.

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  36. So sorry to hear adout your dogs.
    My Bridgette had been coughing off and on but did not think it was anything serious. She ate well even the night before she became seriouly ill. She started vomiting about 8 hours after she became ill.

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    1. So sorry about Bridgette. The coughing makes me think there was something else in play in those cases.

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  37. Today my 15 year old Maltese Rocky was diagnosed with IMHA. He started with the symtoms last night. The vet told me he has a 50% chance of survival. I am so heart broken about how suddenly this desease came upon him. This happened two weeks after he got his rabies shot.
    I am suspecting this could have been the culprit. My dog was very healthy before. He was playful, eating right, and healthy. My vet said that vaccines can be the cause, but it cannot be proven. I am just praying to God, that if it is his will, Rocky will survive this. My heart goes to all those lovely people who have lost their beloved pets. Dogs do go to heaven and we will see them again, vets should make dog owners aware of this desease.

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    1. So sorry about Rocky. Catching it early really increases the chances.

      Yes, this one comes on fast. The recent rabies shot certainly could have been what put the immune system into overdrive ... but proving it is another thing.

      Fingers crossed. Catching the symptoms right away, though, is the most important thing and you've done that. (((hugs)))

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  38. i have a small chihuahua with IMHA i had never heard of this awful disese. my baby was fine at breakfast ate her food played. i went out for a while came home at 3:00 she wasn't her self did not run to to greet me . i picked her up do not know why but looked at her gums. they were white.. off to the vet running to my car carrying my little one calling the vet at the same time. my baby had a transfusion in less than a hour of arriving t the vet. it has been 6 months since that day now we are off the predisone but azathioprine one time a week and no more pet tinic as we have a pcv of 44.5 now the day of transfusion it was 8%... this disease can strike fast and in 30 minutes can take your fur baby.and a relaspe can happen even years of being in remission. this is a terrible disease.

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    1. Yes, it is very terrible. So good that your instinct told you to look at the gums! Great instinct. Great she got treated right away. Best of luck keeping it at bay (you can check two article series on how it can be kept under control using natural methods)

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  39. My 8 year old border terrier Meg was first diagnosed with IMHA last July, she was so very ill and against all odds, pulled through and recovered back to her normal self. She had steroids every other day and was still taken back for blood tests every few months. Then 2 days ago, she became suddenly unwell again, with all too familiar symptoms. I took her straight to the vets again, who did blood tests etc, which proved she had relapsed. They also found a lump, later to be confirmed as cancer, she was given a stronger dose of steroids, but she didn't respond to them and her red blood cell count continued to decrease. A blood transfusion was needed, but we all knew it would only really give her an extra few days and just be prolonging the inevitable. She passed away the following day, and it broke my heart. I can not believe the speed I which this truly awful illness takes hold of what appears to be a happy, healthy dog.

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    1. So sorry about Meg! The neoplasia would certainly not help things. IMHA can really strike fast and hard. The red blood cells are being lost - it's like bleeding heavily. So sorry (((hugs)))

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  40. Our dog, Zoe, was diagnosed with IMHA in July of 2012. It came on rather quickly. On a Sunday, we rushed her to the vet. Her RBC was 27. We went back the next day and it was down to 22. She was put on meds and on Tuesday she collapsed. Rushed her back to vet. Her RBC was at 14. We were sent straight to the Emergency Vet Hospital where she was given a blood transfusion and was on fluids for 48 hours. I really believed that I was watching our sweet Zoe die. After two days, we brought her home. She was on 6 medicines to begin with. It has been about 6 weeks now and she is down to 4 medicines. She is doing AMAZINGLY well. She is almost back to her old self. Going for short walks, wanting to play....
    I have to credit our veterinarians with making a very quick diagnosis and knowing exactly what to do for her. I am so grateful to them.
    We keep a constant eye on her and with God's help, she is going to continue on this path.
    The main thing with IMHA is to catch it early. It can be treated.

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    1. So glad Zoe is doing so well now! Yes, catching it early is the key! So glad to hear a story like that, when things worked out!

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  41. My beautiful 10 yr old terrier mix,Sadie was very vibrant and full of life. She was a rescue who entered our home over 9 yrs ago and declared that she was alpha female to our little family of dogs and cats. Except for needing thyroid meds, she was healthy for her age. On mon 9/10/12 at 4pm she collapsed. We took her to the vet immediately, after blood tests,she was diagnosed with IMHA. First time I heard of it. Our vet started meds and was optomistic. Had a good night, was tired but good. Went back to vet for bloodtest and slightly worse, but still ok. Next day was weaker,started new meds, but alert,lost appetite late in day. That night she would only lay still and watch us or sleep. Then very late breathing became labored, we knew she was leaving us. Called vet who met us at animal hospital,but she died before we got there. Three days is all it took for this horrible illness to take our baby 2 days ago. I still am crying, wondering if I could have done anything differently. Our dogs are grieving too. I felt so helpless. I miss her so much.

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    1. So sorry about your baby. (((hugs))) There are some early signs which there might or might not have preceded the collapse. This can strike very fast.

      You took her to the vet right away, that's about all you could have done. Sometimes these dogs can be saved and sometimes they cannot.

      The key to having a chance is taking action right away when you see that something is wrong. You didn't mention what the values were and what meds she was put on.

      Sometimes, though, it really is their time to go and there is nothing anybody could do about it.

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    2. Thanks for your kind words. Sadie's pvc first day was 24, she was put on prednisone, second day 20 and was given cyclosporin. We did not see any sign of illness before her collapse. Sadie did have a uti the week before and took some antibiotics. She had one a few yrs before with the same treatment. No recent vaccines. She was barking when she collapsed and stood up,then collapsed again. I realize nothing can be changed now, but I can't let it go yet. Trying to make sense of it. Our other dogs are 15 yrs, 12 yrs and 5 yrs. I worry about them now.

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    3. I wouldn't consider it likely that your other dogs would also get it but I understand your feelings about it. The only best policy to keep on guard against IMHA or any other serious disease is to carefully watch for warning signs.

      Pale or yellow tinged gums, rapid breathing for not other good reason, weakness, lethargy, dark urine, loss of appetite ... many of these can be signs of other problems, but they are signs of problems.

      Some breeds are more susceptible to the disease, such as Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Miniature Poodle, Finnish Spitz, Irish Setter, Dachshund, Bichon Frise and Old English Sheepdog.

      IMHA can be triggered by a number of things, infection could be it also in some cases; anything the immune system decides to go berserk over; though some things are more likely to trigger it than others (it is believed that reaction to vaccines is the most common one). Things such as stress, psychological or physiological can also play a role.

      Truth is, things cannot always be predicted or avoided. And sometimes they truly don't seem to make sense.

      You might want to find out at what levels, transfusion is a good policy, besides the medications.

      "Rather than let an animal remain severely anemic (PCV <12%) for prolonged periods, most veterinarians prefer to maintain the hemoglobin between 7-10 g/dl and the hematocrit between 20-30 percent."
      http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=398258

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  42. I have a 6 year old cat that got very sick before her first birthday and was hospitalized for the same symptoms. At the time we lived in South Carolina and we visited several vets but were never given a clear diagnosis - they just told us she had some kind of autoimmune disease. She has been on 2.5 mg of prednisolone daily since then and has remained stable. The couple of times I tried weening her off, she became anemic again. We did not do any blood transfusions, but it was considered.

    Now I wonder if this was caused by her kitten immunizations. Her first diagnosis was FeLV, but she tested negative for it twice after that (her chart still says that she is FeLV, which really annoys me!)

    I talked to my vet here in Portland about the symptoms, etc. and the pred but she never mentioned IMHA - is it more typical in dogs than cats? Now I'm curious.

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    1. Julie, not that I know anything about cats ... but many autoimmune diseases, affect many different species.

      IMHA is no exception
      http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/cat-health/immune-mediated-hemolytic-anemia-cats-imha
      and yes, it can affect cats as well.

      Prednisone is a typical treatment for most of these. The main trick is figuring out what caused it, not that it will really change the treatment protocol much.

      Vaccinations certainly are one of the things associated with these reactions, but not the only one, and sometimes the cause remains undetermined.

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  43. My beautiful male Shih Tsu Sammi has this. On Sunday evening he roller onto his back and screamed out in pain. It terrified me and I got down on the floor and petted him and he seemed fine. The next morning he was listless and didn't want his treat. In the afternoon he had another really bad screaming episode which scared me. He got up off his bed and screamed out in pain. His legs were flat out and as soon as I got to him he was fine. I brought him to the vet and they did blood work. I took him in the next day and said I can't wait if you don't have the results something is wrong. That is when the other veterinarian told me the diagnoses of IMHA. We are fighting it now and his hematocrit is 21 today going down from 24 and then 30 when he was initially seen. This is just horrendous and I live alone and am very scared and don't want him to die. Money is an issue so I will probably have to put him to sleep if he doesn't get better. Life can be so hard sometimes. I just hope I can live ok without my best budman. Thanks and Blessings to all!

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    1. So sorry about Sammi! What are they treating him with? Best of luck and healing thoughts.

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    2. Sammi is being treated with Prednisone, baby asprin, Asanthioprine, Doxycycline, and Prevacid AC. He does better and then now he has this racking cough. I really don't want my baby boy to suffer. I am also giving him electrolytes by IV. Thanks for asking Jana.
      Lee Anne

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    3. Doing better then? What does the vet thing about the cough?

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    4. The vet was concerned about Heart problems for Sammi. He said to bring him right in as that did not sound good. We put him at peace last night. My neighbor came with me and I am crying my eyes out for my best friend. He also came down with a heart murmur from this terrible disease. He was trying to remain strong for me I know. We took a nap together yesterday and that is a blessing I will always remember. Thanks for your kind words.
      Lee Anne

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    5. Lee Anne, so sorry about Sammi. Yes, a number of things can cause cough, heart problems is one of them. RIP Sammi (((hugs)))

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  44. My 5 yr old Shihtzu Chloe was just diagnosed yesterday and is at the hospital fighting for her life. She was being her usual crazy self on Friday and Saturday she was more mellow but eating fine and still playful. Come Sunday she wouldn't eat anything and I called the vet first thing Monday. Her hematocrit was already down to 18% and she had a transfusion last night. They did an ultrasound today and didn't find anything unusual, so that's a positive, but her prognosis is still "guarded". After the transfusion her hematocrit was up to 30% but her biluribin(sp?)was at 60 which is higher than last night. This has completely blindsided me and I'm having a difficult time dealing with it. I was glad to find this site so I could hear some positive outcomes, as I had never heard of this terrible disease until yesterday. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories!

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    1. Hi Amy, sorry about Chloe. There are dogs who make it and live good lives. There are many variables, I don't blame the vets for guarded prognosis. But it is possible to make it through.

      Fingers crossed (((hugs)))

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    2. I went and saw her last night and was distressed at how jaundice she is. Blood work from this morning indicates that her hematocrit is dropping again and another transfusion might be needed. Also, her bilirubin is slightly up. I had the number wrong last night, it was actually 29.2 yesterday and is at 29.7 this morning. I was told this will get worse before it gets better. It hasn't even been 48 hours and I've read that the steroids can take 3-4 days to start helping. They will be checking it again at noon and I am anxiously awaiting the results. I just don't know how far to take this. Am I only delaying the inevitable?

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    3. With IMHA it's usually a toss up. Every time something was wrong with Jasmine, all we wanted to know what her chances of fully recovering are. It's not as simple with this, because even if things get sorted out, a relapse can happen.

      What about Chloe? What about her eyes? Does she look like she wants to fight?

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  45. She was bright eyed last night and licked my face for a good 5 minutes when I got there. And when the girl came to take her back to ICU she growled at her, which is her usual attitude towards strangers. Compared with how she was when I brought her in on Monday(completely deflated and silent) I really thought she was getting better. She is currently having her second transfusion but if it doesn't work this time I don't plan to do a third. I keep praying for a miracle and haven't lost hope yet!

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    1. What you're describing does sound like she was doing better to me! Fingers crossed. (((hugs)))

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  46. My precious girl lost her battle last night and died peacefully in my arms. Thanks for your kind words and support.

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    1. Amy Lynn I am so so sorry about your loss. I posted above that I had to let my Beloved Sammi go because of this disease. He was a Shih Tsu also and maybe they have made friends on the other side.
      Lee Anne

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    2. Amy Lynn I also have to tell you that from your picture your baby looked so much like my Sammi it uncanny. God Bless!
      Lee Anne

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    3. If any of you are regular posters to these blogs and others please (its hard to find all of them) make sure that people know if you suspect your dog has this disease make sure your vet has the capability of doing blood work on-site. We took our dog in last Friday - the vet had to send the blood work out - wouldn't back until Monday. We finally took our boy to the Emergency Vet on Saturday and when they did the blood work the disease was so aggressive he died within 3 days even with 3 blood transfusions. Make sure your vet has the capability or take your dog to a VCA Hospital or Emergency Clinic. We lost about 24 hours because we didn't know any better. Thanks for passing this along.

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    4. If anyone on this site is a regular blogger and visits multiple sites please make sure everyone is aware of the importance of having a vet who can do blood work on-site. Ours didn't and needed to send it out. Our dog went to bed last Friday night and was fine. Work up on Saturday morning and he was clearly not feeling well. Took to the vet, vet took blood and had to send it our and we would not know until Monday. By Saturday evening we decided to take our boy to the emergency clinic, they did blood work on-site and the disease was so aggressive nothing we did (3 blood transfusions)could stop it and he died on Tuesday. Not sure if the extra 8 hours would have made a difference but we sure would have liked to have the opportunity. Autopsy showed no known reason for it.

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    5. Yes, every vet should be able to do at least basic blood work at house. Our does. Basic emergency stuff is plenty; for fancy stuff he sends out as well.

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  47. In June 2009, I noticed the stool of my 9-year-old Cocker Spaniel was the color of a carrot. I immediately took him to a 365/24 hour emergency veterinary hospital in Leesburg, VA. I had to pay $2,500 just to obtain a diagnosis. This particular hospital has an internist who specializes in IMHA. She asked if he had recently had a vaccination. Indeed, he had a rabies vaccination in May. She told me that even with the best of care, approximately 60% of affected dogs die. I decided to treat him. He received high-dose Prednisone, Azathiroprine, Mirtazapine, Cyclosporine, and Sucralfate. After five days, his bill was an additional $7,200. At this point, I had to ask if they would discharge him, provide me with prescriptions, and give me directions. I just didn't have any more money. Fortunately, I am a member of Price Costco. They gave me a little discount prescription card for him that significantly reduced the cost of the medications. We made an Excel spreadsheet because there were 16 actions we had to do daily. At least one of us was with him around the clock. We had to hold him when he vomited, carry him outside to pee, and comfort him. He wouldn't eat anything. His internist told me to make lowfat meatballs and spaghetti noodles (no sauce) and to serve it warm. I didn't think he would eat it but he did. In fact, he loved it. I took him to his regular vet (MUCH cheaper) for the necessary blood tests. By the end of August, his internist said he was in remission (they are never considered cured). In October, he started peeing in the house. At this time, his vet said that the high-dose steroids had killed his pancreas and he was diabetic. I am extremely needle-phobic but I had to learn to give him two injections per day. In August of 2010, he became blind and very depressed. The hospital charged $800 to determine which eye was a candidate for cataract surgery. The opthamologist operated on his right eye. The surgery cost about $4,000. As the song goes, if it weren't for bad luck, Hershey would have no luck at all. The right eye got glaucoma unrelated to IMHA. So, I paid another $4,000 for surgery on the left eye. Despite regular testing, his diabetes has never been regulated very well. As a result, his left retina has been affected. He can see well enough to navigate but basically uses his nose to get around the house. Despite it all, he is a merry little fellow. He loves his blue ball and his stuffed toys. We take three walks a day. I live in a subdivision that has several lakes. We walk around the closest lake and he sniffs where the mallards and Canadian geese have been. He can never be vaccinated for anything. In Virginia, I had to get a certificate from the internist saying he cannot be vaccinated. I can never let him off-leash, he can't go to a groomer, and he can't be boarded. You absolutely have to find out if your state allows waivers. Otherwise, they will force you to vaccinate even if the dog has IMHA. Fortunately, I am retired so I am with him most of the time. I got him when he was seven and he has severe separation anxiety. So, when he takes his nap, I run to the grocery. Home Depot lets me put his bed in a basket and he lays down and gets rolled around the store. My advice--unless you have "deep pockets", you will most likely accumulate significant debt related to IMHA treatment. Since he came down with IMHA, I have spent over $30,000 for treatment. Every time I take him to the hospital for his tests, they say, "Oh, bringing the car in for a tune up?" If I knew then what I know now, I would have euthanized him. They never really explained to me what a devastating disease IMHA is. Hershey is 12 years old now. I love him like a child, however, if he relapses, I will let him go.

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    1. It is a nasty one, that's for sure. I am glad he made it. Some of the things that happened would have been hard to predict. Sometimes one just has to take it one step at the time. Sorry about the diabetes complications. All the best and hoping Hershey will not relapse.

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    2. Karen- I feel for you. We lost our beautiful 6 year old american bulldog, Kofi to this disease Friday. I pray that our presence during his last hours brought him comfort and peace in the face of everything. There are so many emotions running through me right now, but I feel like I still need to be strong for Kofi - even in his absence. Today is my first day back at work and the first day my husband (who works from home) will be home with out him. It all hurts like hell. I feel like a part of me is missing. When we got the call that he hadn't responded to the blood transfusion favorably enough, we knew it was time. We couldn't bare to see him continue to struggle so weak and robbed of his spirit. All I/we wanted to do was honor him. Honor his spirit. Honor the love he so selflessly gave us. Honor his legacy. He saved us both in so many ways & we are forever indebted to him. It was the hardest decision to come to and I fight the what if's tirelessly, but know that guilt will not bring him back. In my heart of hearts, we find solace knowing he is no longer in pain. When I grabbed my keys this morning, a couple of strands of his rope was sitting right next to it. I am a huge believer in life after...and that small reminder brought me peace. I know my baby is by my side. And I trust that he is still watching over us, as he always has. My prayers are with you and your Hershey & I commend you for your strength.

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  48. My 10 yr old shih tzu was just diagnosised with this terrible disease and I am just devastated, he is in the hospital now receiving supportive therapy to rule out internal bleeding before he starts steriod treatment

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    1. Sorry to hear about your baby (((hugs))) Fingers crossed he pulls through. Some dogs do and continue to do well.

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  49. All of these posts brought a tear to my eye. My best friend Diamond, a pug, was diagnosed with IMHA in September of 2011. She was fine one day and then we slowly started to see her become more lethargic and mopey. Eventually, she stopped eating and drinking completely. We rushed her to the vet, and they immediately sent us to a vet hospital that specializes in blood and immune disorders. She was given a blood transfusion and put on a ton of medications. It was a long battle and I feared losing her every day. Throughout her recovery, most of my nights were sleepless. But, 2 years later her medicine is almost entirely reduced. She's only on one now, but will be for the rest of her life. She is back to her spunky, happy self and she is enjoying her life. I truly believe that her survival was a miracle, and I am thankful for every single day that I have with her.

    However, this disease flies under the radar and it is terrifying to think that people do not know the signs because time really is of the essence. The first time we brought her to the vet due to her symptoms, even the vet didn't suspect it and told us she probably just had a stomach virus. It took screaming with the secretary on the phone the next day to finally get through to them, and it was a good thing we did or she would have been dead.

    With that said, everyone who has a buddy with IMHA, WATCH OUT FOR BEES AND WASPS. We think that is what triggered Diamond's IMHA. If your dog has IMHA and is stung by a bee or wasp, RUN DO NOT WALK to the vet. This happened to us today while Diamond was at the park and when she got home she was showing all of the lethargic symptoms. We rushed her to the vet and they gave her a shot of Bennedryl and she seems to be doing just fine. But the vet did tell us that bee stings could potentially cause a relapse!!! So be on the look out when you're dog is outside!

    Everyone who has a dog going through the initial phase of this disease, know that I am praying for you and your buddy!!!

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    1. Audrey, thank you so much for sharing your story and good advice. Glad Diamond is an IMHA survivor!

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  50. I lost my Pappilon, Max to this horrible disease on 5-16-2013. It is the worst thing I've ever gone through. It's been a little more than 4 months and I still miss him every day. He was such a good boy and like many of you, the symptoms came of of no where. After the third blood transfusion they told us he wouldn't make. Not a day goes by that I don't cry. I am blessed though, for the 8 1/2 years of love and friendship I shared with Max and that comforts me. I also know I was a good pappy dad and did everyhitng I could for him. my prayers to all who have suffered through this terrible disease.

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    1. So sorry about your pup. Yes, it is very horrible to lose a dog to IMHA. Yes, it is the 8.5 years of love and friendship which will stay with you, while the grief will pass with time.

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  51. I had a Collie suffer from this after his first vaccinations. We did not use any standard treatments but after looking through alternatives we went for a homeopathic suggestion - thuja extract and activated charcoal. I can't say that that was the reason he survived but he did. I have owned a farm and seen many animals die and there was a day I confidently expected him to be dead the next morning. I was surprised he survived. My experience was that many vets are quite ignorant about this possibility.

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    1. I'm very happy that your dog is an IMHA survivor, however it has happened. I have tried holistic and integrative treatments, never tried homeopathy yet, though.

      I don't know whether Thuja exctract would work, maybe? I can't really see how activated charcoal would help? Interesting, though. The important thing is that your dog is ok.

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  52. my sandy was put to sleep due to imha and iam trying to find out why i keep thinking i did something wrong memorial weekend i put frontline on her theywhere in single packs so i didnt think about dosage i thought they where alredy set up by weight it seemed like a lot she was acting kinda tired but people said that is normal and the next day and after she seemed fine after camping fourth of july weekend she just wasnt the same we brought her to the animal hospital where she was diaganost with imha 2 days later we put her to rest could i have poisioned her and caused this heart brokened in st.paul

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    1. So sorry to hear about Sandy.

      Was this the first time you used Frontline on Sandy? How much more than the recommended dosage was it? Does your vet feel it could be involved?

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  53. i think i used it on her last yearwhen i bought it didnt have an exp date on it so used it this year i put a little by her shoulder
    blades and then down her back i dont think i gave her to much they seemed like sinle dosage packs but iam thinking if she licked it and got into her system that triggered the imha i didnt think of the front line when talking to vet but they did say poiion or toxic chemacles along with other things could trigger it dont think about to many questions when going through this but does something have to trigger it sandy was very happy and healthy just cant understand it

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    1. If you believe the topical might have caused it, you should talk about that to your vet. If there is a chance it has, it needs to be reported to the company too; might help save other dogs.

      IMHA can have various triggers, but personally I wouldn't think Frontline would be one of them. It would be more likely a reaction to, say, a tick bite, than the treatment.

      But do talk to your vet about this.

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  54. I just lost my precious 6 year old Springer Spaniel Molly to this terrible disease on Saturday. She was fine on Tuesday and Wednesday morning she vomited once. She would not eat Wednesday and when I got home early Thursday afternoon she was in severe distress. She spent 2 evenings at the Emergency Vet and received a total of 4 units of blood for a PCV of 15. Despite transfusions, her levels never recovered. We made the choice to stop treatment Saturday morning. We were able to bring her home for a few hours and then returned to her regular vet that afternoon to have her put to sleep.

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    1. So sorry about Molly. IMHA is a terrible disease that strikes fast.

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  55. My little boy bobby 2 years old was diagnosed with imha 5 weeks ago his pcv levels were at 14 when he went in then dropped to 12 after 2weeks they had risen to 21 then 27 and 31 was our last reading they have now started to reduce the amount of steroids and is due next pcv next week hopefully they are still on the up imha is a very distressing disease I cant relax at all constantly checking worrying about heavy panting due to steroids don't know what's normal anymore

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  56. My dog was diagnosed with IMHA a bit over a year ago. He responded well to steroids, then relapsed, then responded well again. Fortunately, he is doing very well now, despite nearly $10,000 in treatments, and at one point losing the ability to urinate (he had 24/7 urinary catheter in place for about a month). Anyway, Rudy is almost 8 now and is past due on vaccines. Veterinarians strongly recommend NOT re-vaccinating, for risk of setting off IMHA again, and potentially worse this time around. I would like to follow their advice, of course. However, I am going to be traveling through Canada with my IMHA, unvaccinated canine. I have yet to find a Rabies exemption form to get into Canada without issue. Anyone out there deal with that before? THANK YOU!

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    1. So glad your dog responded to treatments and is doing well. I do agree that I wouldn't want to vaccinate an IMHA dog. I'll see if anybody is familiar with the forms.

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  57. I took my 7 year old shih-Tzu Griffey to the vet because he wasn't taking his morning treats and seemed to be shaking a lot. I honestly just expected our vet to say he had a tooth problem and needed a cleaning. A couple days later I got a call that his red blood cell count was low. After a lot of tests, it was decided that Griffey had IMHA. That was 5 weeks ago. We lost Griffey two days ago. He received a blood transfusion about a week before he died and he was just never our same sweet boy again. The Prednisone and Cyclosporine were so hard on him, and he quit eating. When his red blood cell count dropped to 8% we decided we didn't want him to suffer anymore and chose euthanasia. I am heart broken over this. Two months before we lost our Griffey, we lost our Golden Retriever, Jeter, to cancer. It has been a very difficult two months. My husband thinks I should get a new puppy to help deal with the loss and keep my mind busy. I would love to, but I am so afraid right now. IMHA is not something I want to deal with ever again. I have tried looking up the statistics to see how common this disease is with dogs but I can't seem to find anything. Do you have any idea?

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    1. So sorry about your pups! So hard to lose one, let alone two one after the other.

      The sad thing is that you cannot predict what happens, regardless of statistics. You can, however, give a dog a good life, however long it will be.

      After Jasmine's passing I was in pain also. But she wanted me to rescue and give a good life to a new Rottie girl. So many dogs have their lives ended prematurely because they don't get adopted. So I look at it that way. Whatever time they might have with me is longer and better time they would have otherwise.

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  58. Thank you so much for posting all of these stories. We're waiting to hear whether our little 6 year-old Cocker Spaniel will survive this IMHA. She was diagnosed, and steroids started, July 1, 2015. She made it through the first three days, going from red blood count of 8 to 9 the first day, then up to 15 the following day, then 18 the next. Our wonderful Vet lets us visit her whenever we like, and she even came home for two nights over the holiday weekend. Unfortunately, our dog won't potty at all. It's been a couple of days (this is day 3), and she won't eat or drink (no food for 5 days and no water for 3). We took her back to the vet when she started turning more yellow and was having difficulty breathing, it seemed. X-rays came back normal, but blood test came back showing she'd dropped to 15 again. The vet put her on an IV to try to flush out the toxins in her system, but no pee from our girl. This morning we rushed to her vet to see her when the vet called and said she wasn't looking very good and hadn't peed at all. The vet gave her some kind of injection to stimulate her kidneys. She said she's never seen a dog survive the kidney not functioning anymore problem, but we're hoping for a miracle. Your site and all the stories are helping me pass the hours while we wait to hear if she's gone potty and has a chance at survival again. I'm praying for her and all the people and their loved one's who've gone through this horrid situation and posted their stories here. (So many tears after so many years of joy with our baby.)

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    1. So sorry about your baby. Praying that she makes it.

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  59. Our Sylvia was diagnosed with IMHA on Sunday. She seemed fine Saturday, but didn't show interest in eating a week before that for a day or two. I check when she wasn't eating and her gums were pink. Well Sunday when we woke up she just sat there with her eyes closed and didn't want to move. Upon testing, her rbc was 16, vet performed half a transfusion (he was concerned about her heart rate while giving it to her at first). After that several hours later she tested at 22 rbc! They tested her again about 12 hours later and she dropped to 19 rbc. Vet then gave her the other half and after another test several hours later she went up to 20 rbc. Vet stated that he didn't think another transfusion would do much so he told us we can take her home. That was about 9 hrs ago. She definitely has some jaundice going on her belly, mouth, ears, etc. I know steroids can take 3-4 days to really help so I'm hoping she gets better. We have been a mess since Sunday, not being able to sleep, concentrate at work. I just don't want to lose our little girl. Right now she's sleeping next to me on the couch and we're loving every minute of it. She will continue to be on steroids and has a vet appointment Thursday (two days away) to get a rbc level test. I believe that will be a big test to see if it goes up or down. I've heard and read that it gets worse before it gets better and I'm hoping the 19 after the 22 reading is just that. The jaundice worry me as well. This is incredibly hard to deal with, no dog/owner should have to deal with this. I'll try my best to update Sylvia's condition.

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    1. So sorry about your pup. This is a nasty disease. Does your vet know about the jaundice? If my dog was diagnosed with IMHA I'd be in touch with the vet every day and talking about everything that seems of concern. And if something looked worrisome, I'd go in and not wait for the time of the follow-up appointment.

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    2. Yes, he mentioned it when we picked her up. Last night in the middle of the night she urinated all over the bed (and on us). It's okay though, I know that water intake and urination increase with these steroids. So far today (following morning) she seems the same. Just staying on schedule with medicine. Fingers crossed.

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    3. Best of luck. Thinking of you.

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  60. My five year old American Eskimo Lucas died yesterday from IMHA. He had his third transfusion the day before but he was not getting any better. He could not stand or walk, eat, was lethargic, and couldn't breathe properly...so I decided that I wanted him to have a permanent peaceful rest. I spent the last of his moments going to his favorite foods, people, and places. I could tell he was struggling so hard to walk with all his willpower. It just pains me so much that his mind was battling with his body. He was so strong and brave. I really wish I could do more. It's really killing me inside that he's gone...I love him so much.

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    1. So sorry about Lucas. Letting him go was the kind thing to do but I know how much that hurts. You did all you could. IMHA is a horrible disease.

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  61. We are almost 4 months post IMHA diagnosis. My Pebbles was fine one day and the next not so good. The following day I took her to the Vet and her red blood cell count was 6. Took her to emergency vet for blood transfusion. While the count went up to 24, it then immediately started to go back down. I was sure my little baby wasn't going to make it. The ER vet wanted me to go to another specialized vet practice for an ultrasound to see if IMHA was primary or secondary. They were suspecting cancer. We transferred her to the new vet after being at the ER vet for 36 hours. Pebbles' red blood cell count continued to go down through the day. In the middle of that night she received an dose of immunoglobulin G which had been donated to the practice. We were told it was a race against the clock. Over the next week, I was praying for my baby but she wouldn't eat, wouldn't lift her head when we would come and visit, and her red blood cell count would go up 1 and down 2. It was the worst roller coaster I've ever been on. Pebbles finally got to come home when her red blood cell count went to 18 after being away from home for 16 days. We are not almost at 4 months post diagnosis. At last check, her count was 38. They have removed the night time dose of prednisone but she is still on a morning dose along with morning and evening doses of mycophenolate and a blood thinner since she also ended up with a blood clot to her lung. Out of the 16 days in the ER, 10 of them were spent in an oxygen crate. I worry every day that this nasty disease will come back. I had never heard of it and then it took over my life. While the vet bills were extremely expensive, and we haven't finished yet, I wouldn't change a thing. I am blessed that Pebbles was able to come home and thank God for every day that she is a survivor. We've been told that she will be on medication for at least a year. She is an 8 year old Shorkie. While I know she will probably not live to what her bread is expected to, I'm happy with any time we still have with her. For those who have gone through this, it is heartbreaking. There were so many times I looked in her eyes and no longer saw my dog and questioned if it was time to let her go. I'm so grateful that the one ER hospital didn't have an ultrasound machine because the next place saved her life. The second hospital said they see this terrible disease all too often. They love to tell people when we come in for our blood checks that Pebbles is their Miracle Dog! Praying the miracle continues. For all those out there who didn't have a miracle, my heart goes out to you.

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    1. I'm so sorry Pebbles has to go through this but I'm glad she's a miracle dog. Some dog indeed recover well. Check out Dr. Patrick Mahaney's blog about his journey with his dog Cardiff. Cardiff is an IMHA survivor and cancer survivor. They use integrative approach.

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  62. I will check out his blog. I'm hoping and praying daily that Pebbles continues to be a miracle. This disease is awful and comes on hard and fast. I also forgot to mention that Pebbles is also on daily folic acid and a weekly B12 injection. Unfortunately the survival stories are few and few between.

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  63. We've just lost our beautiful Newfoundland, Marlowe, to this disease. Like so many others, he was fine one day, then just stopped eating. When the vet saw on the third day he was concerned about the colour of his eyes and gums and initially suspected liver cancer. So we were expecting the worst the next day when the blood results came in. When the vet said IMHA was curable, our hopes raised and we took our boy to the clinic to immediately start steroid treatment. Because we live in a rural location, the clinic was too far to visit him for 2 days, so we relied on vet accounts that he seemed to be responding. Then today, Saturday, we phoned the clinic to say we wanted to bring him home as we felt he was pining ( first time in his 6 years away from us). Clinic staff said he seemed weaker and they wanted to keep him in longer to monitor him, but we should visit. So we drove over, only to be met at the door by staff saying they were so sorry, but he had just passed away. They had taken him out for a toileting, he had lain down by a bush, spammed and died. We had missed him by absolutely ut 15 minutes and now I'm so devastated that I wasn't there for him and he died with strangers. It has just been 7 days since he started losing his appetite. Our boy has not been vaccinated since his was a puppy. He has had healthy food, lots of love, exercise and a good life. This has been a huge shock. The only thing that may have been an indication that something was wrong earlier, is that he has had a dry nose for some weeks, but no other symptoms, or deviations from his normal placid, loving behaviour.

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    1. I'm so sorry for your loss :-( IMHA is treatable but not all dogs make it. It can be triggered by a number of different things; vaccines as well as infections ... My heart breaks for you not making it to be with him for the last moments. I'm sure, though, he knew your love and he knew you were on the way and thinking of him.

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  64. We lost our sweet angel Chewie who is a Lhasa Apso 2 days ago to this terrible disease we did not know about prior to him having it. One day he was fine and the next he was lethargic and had diarrhea and wasn't feeling good. We took him to the vet a couple days after that because he never got better. His RBC count was very low and bilirubin was very high. We did 3 blood transfusions and he was on steroids and other drugs but after several extremely stressful days our little sweetie just couldn't make it. He was only 7. We are heartbroken and miss him terribly. They think that he got s blood clot in his lungs after the last transfusion and everything happened so fast in the end and they don't believe he was in pain. We were on our way to see him again when he passed. Rest in peace baby. We will see you in heaven.

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    1. so sorry to hear of your loss. It is hard knowing that you couldn't be there at his end, we went through the same, and it doesn't matter how many times people say he was in the best place or he didn't feel any pain, it hurts to so much to feel that we abandoned our boy and couldn't comfort him in his time of need. I guess time will be a healer, but its been 3 weeks for us, and I still wept when I read your post. Horrible disease.

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    2. So sorry for your loss. It is a terrible disease. The immune system is a wonderful thing but when it stops working or turns on the body it's a disaster.

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