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Health

IMHA: Four Letters You Never Want to Meet
April 15, 2013 (published)

Most of the diseases that we see and treat in the ER can be pretty easily comprehended by non-medical folks: trauma, infection, cancer – all of these seem to make sense to pet owners when we discuss them. But there is one disease that almost always sends heads spinning and puts a look of blank incomprehension on the faces of pet owners. This disease is immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA, and I will give you a little insight into its nefarious workings right now.

Your immune system keeps you safe and protected from all the zillions of things that try to kill you every day.  Every minute of every day, viruses are trying to enter your sinuses, bacteria want to creep into your blood stream, and even your own cells decide what the heck – let’s mutate and try and cause cancer. Your immune system stands a post, grabs a gun and keeps all these hazards at bay so you can spend another day looking for just the right pair of jeggings at the Gap.

Your immune system is an amazingly choreographed and intricate machine with dozens of types of cells and hundreds of chemical messengers that allow it to determine what’s you, what’s not you, and what’s potentially trying to kill you. It doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to.

In some cases, it gets confused and decides that something totally harmless is worthy of note and launches a counteroffensive – this is what happens with most allergies.  Your immune system decides that pollen, for example, is dreadful and must be eliminated at all costs and mounts an attack that leaves you with puffy eyes, a runny nose and a bad case of the sneezies.  To my knowledge, pollen has never killed anyone – so, why the big fuss, immune system?

In other cases, your immune system gets even more confused and decides that little bits of you – important bits of you, like joints and blood – are the bad guy and takes them out. These are the so-called autoimmune diseases, many of which you have heard of: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Grave’s disease.  There are many more. Even diabetes (Type I, in which the body stops making insulin) is an autoimmune disease at its core; the body attacks the cells of the pancreas that make insulin. No one knows why. I think it’s because the pancreas said something about the immune system’s mama once, and it all went downhill from there.

One of the more common autoimmune diseases that veterinarians see is IMHA, in which the immune system decides that red blood cells would make a tasty snack and goes after them like Chuck Norris after the bad guys. In most cases, the trigger is never known – one day, your immune system wakes up and says “yesterday – viruses and bacteria, today – red blood cells! Tomorrow – who knows?!” and starts destroying them with abandon. The ‘hemolytic’ in the name refers to the process of popping or lysing red blood cells. Incidentally, onions, mothballs and the zinc found in pennies minted after 1982 can all cause the same thing.

Some of the signs of IMHA include:

  • Pale or yellow gums
  • Extreme weakness and lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice (yellow discoloration) of the whites of the eyes.

It can happen with remarkable speed – one day your dog is happily snoozing by the fire, the next day your veterinarian is telling you that he’s in a 50:50 battle for his life. The speed always amazes clients, and makes it one of those diseases that prompts people to use the old ‘but, doc he was fine yesterday’ line.

Your immune system moves fast – think of how fast you go from the depths of the flu to feeling fine; one or two days and you are back to normal, once it gets a toe-hold on the invading bugs. It moves at the same speed when it is confused. It is mercilessly efficient whether it is covering your butt or kicking it.

IMHA and its close cousin Evan’s syndrome (in which red blood cells and platelets are both consumed) are not easily treated. The odds we give pet owners are around 50:50, and some days even those poor odds seem a tad optimistic. Doing battle with the immune system is not for the faint of heart or lean of wallet.  Many days in the hospital, multiple transfusions and, in some cases, medications costing thousands can all take their toll and many owners elect not to go ahead with therapy. Not all cases reach the financial limit for owners, but I have been involved in enough that have gone down that path that I always warn families of the potentially rocky road that may lay ahead. I never fault owners who decide not to even dip a toe in the pool and call it quits once the diagnosis is made. It is that bad.

One of the dreaded consequences of IMHA is a blood clot that can travel to the lungs and is often fatal – a pulmonary thromboembolism, or PTE. After treating several cases that seem to have dodged a bullet, enduring transfusion after transfusion, only to catch that bullet in the form of a massive PTE, I always let people know the worst than can happen.

Those that we do treat are on medication for months (steroids like prednisone are the cornerstone of therapy) and about one dog in five will have a relapse at some point.  Cats, for some reason, are relatively resistant to IMHA; they can still get it, but I have treated hundreds of canine cases and only a handful of cats.

There is an association between recent vaccination and the onset of IMHA, but I don’t want to infer that vaccines cause IMHA.  It’s just not that simple, although folks love to paint vaccines as the bad guy. The association between the two is tenuous and somewhat unproven, and vaccines are still one of the most important tools we have against dreaded diseases like parvo and distemper. We do, however, usually recommend that patients who have had IMHA not receive vaccinations ever again in the future, out of, as they say, an abundance of caution.

Since most cases of IMHA are seen in middle-aged to older pets (females are slightly more likely to get autoimmune diseases in general; Cocker spaniels are the poster dog for IMHA) and vaccines have the greatest protective effects in the young, this recommendation does not usually mean that skipping a vaccine will open the door to potential diseases. Whatever you do, don’t skip vaccines in the hopes of avoiding IMHA, especially in a younger dog. Parvo has killed millions more dogs than IMHA and the vaccines are proven and effective in preventing it. It is simply not worth the risk.

Your immune system is something you absolutely can’t live without, but when it gets off track and sets its sights on some vital part of you – look out. It is hard to get the genie back in the bottle. It can happen, but not without a fight, and with IMHA we are up against a formidable foe.

 

203 Comments

Theresa
December 9, 2017

I’ve posted several times over the past year or so. My JRT was diagnosed with Evans Syndrome in Sept 2016. She responded well to all treatment for the next 13 months, and was weaned off all meds by Oct 2017.  Perfect bloodwork 11/16/2017. She relapsed this past Monday. Underwent IV steroids and another transfusion on Tuesday night. By Wed night RBC count was back down to 14 and platelets continued downward.  Her abdomen was collecting fluid that made it hard to breathe,but she was too fragile to drain it or even take a sample.  Heart murmur noted, and gall bladder issues with future complications discovered.  We made the decision to let her go. But we had several wonderful months with her and a few weeks of total remission with 100% of pre-Evans Maisie back. So it was worth it. We miss her terribly.


Andy
November 23, 2017

I am devastated and, at the same time, so heartened by all of the posts on this thread... We adopted an 11 year old Maltese about three months ago...from the beginning there were health issues (two UTIs and treatments, heart murmur, testicle that never descended, etc.). But he is adorable and we love him... This past Tuesday 11/21/17 we took him in to be neutered (not for reproduction, but because the testicle issue could have caused health problems in the future) and the vet called and said I needed to rush to his office and take him to an emergency hospital if I wanted to save him. His HCT was 13% and also his platelets were very low. We took him to the vet hospital that day and they did some transfusions and he spent the night. We went back tonight (11/22) at 6 and got the medicine all of you mentioned (the steroid and the other one) and when we tried to get him to eat but he wouldn't - no matter what we fed him. We called the hospital around midnight and they said it was very important he take that medicine with food tonight and, if not, he could die, so we might want to bring him in... That was 4 hours ago and it really is, as many of you describe it, a roller-coaster. One minute the doctor is telling you how he has better color and is lively and a few hours later they are saying he should come back or he could die. They are doing their best but this disease is so unpredictable and scary. These life and death decisions are so hard to make. When you feel like there's no good option, there's little to feel hopeful about. I just called the vet and they said he was OK and had been sleeping since we brought him in...We will go back tomorrow...


Channing
October 7, 2017

Our sweet energetic pup Louie was very sick in 2014 not eating and lethargic. Our vet said he needed a blood transfusion within the hour to save his life after seeing that his count was at 4. The blood transfusion saved his life. Today, 3 years later I rushed him to vet after I noticed he was pale and did not want to eat. It appears it's back. I had almost forgotten about this terrible diagnosis. We have put him back on his meds and will be back at the vet in a couple days. Praying that we caught it early enough and able to beat it again. He is a chihuahua and just turned 10 in July.


Andrea
September 23, 2017

Our Cavapoo was diagnosed with IMHA almost a full year ago. She had a hematocrit of 18% and we were pretty sure she wouldn't make it. Although she now has diabetes as a side effect of long-term prednisone and is on insulin, she has been off all other medication (steroids and mycophenolate) for 5 months. Her hematocrit remains steady at 54%, and CBC with reticulocyte count show there's no destruction of RBCs. She is happy and healthy! It's a tough disease, but some make it through it.


Theresa
August 30, 2017

I just posted about my dog Maisie, but want to respond to Susan B, the August 13th poster.  If your dog is still with you as you read this and still experiencing weakness, talk to your vet about the side effects of the steroids and any other medications being administered. I can speak only to my jack russell's recovery period, but she gradually got better as the weeks went by.  She remained weaker and without the stamina for walks over 10 minutes which was attributed to the large dose of steroids she was on. She still doesn't like to walk for more than about 20 minutes tops, drinks much more water, and seems to pant more than she did before her diagnosis.  Sp although she is now in remission, she is not back 100% to dog she was before.  Playful, yes. Barks a lot, yes. Prttects her yard, yes.  So I'm happy with what we got back.


Theresa
August 21, 2017

I've posted over the past 11 months about our journey with our Jack Russell Maisie. She had blood work today and we will begin the 8-10 week process to wean her off Atopica.  She has been on it since her Evans Syndrome diagnosis in Sept 2016.  After one blood transfusion at that time during one night at the vets with one vet tech, she came home. Aggressive course of prednisone with Atopica for 6 months and a long weaning off prednisone in the spring. We were very lucky that our vet was well versed in treating this disease. She believes in keeping your dog at home as much as possible. We have achieved remission and hope to have our 9yr old Maisie for several more healthy and happy years. I know our outcome was good but that many lose their beloved companions. My heart goes out to those who were not as lucky as we were, but wanted to post some words of hope for those who have gotten beyond the first couple of weeks and are in for the long treatment period.


Susan B.
August 13, 2017

Our 12-year-old beauty is now two weeks into this disease. We have told our vet that we will not take "heroic measures" (transfusions, surgeries) because she has always found car rides and vet visits terrifying. Instead, we have kept her on megadoses of steroids (she's 40lbs, taking 40mg x 2 doses per day, now down to 30mg x 2, because her RBC is back up from 19 to 30).The first day after she started on steroids, she seemed almost fully recovered -- smiling, waggy, ready for a walk. But she collapsed again the next day. She has always been a quiet dog, but not one who has struggled to rise and walk, who simply lies on the floor all day long and who collapses if she doesn't have sufficient traction underneath her, who needs to be coaxed or carried outside for relief. No smiles, no wags. This is her present reality. After the initial shock and sorrow -- and one decision to euthanize after her relapse (we changed our minds when we learned her RBC was up) -- our main concern is whether she would want this kind of "life support." Deciding what to do is complicated by the fact that I have found nothing online about what recovery looks like for a dog with AIHA/IMHA. Is it a long, slow process where one day, after weeks of lying in this depressive state, the dog springs up and is well again? Or is the recovery generally rapid if a dog is going to recover at all? I'm sure it's a very individualized process with many other health factors playing a role, but we are stuck: euthanize a dog who is clearly not well or happy, or keep her on meds for weeks because there's a chance she may recover -- when? Is this all the better she is going to get? If we knew, we would euthanize. There's too little information about this aspect of the disease.


Lisa G
July 7, 2017

I recently lost my baby girl Kira to Evans on June 20th. She was a four year old ambassador wolf dog and my constant companion. She presented with lethargy on May 24 and was then diagnosed by her vet with ITP and possible IMHA in need of transfusion that night.  We rushed her then to an emergency clinic where they started treatment for ITP but her numbers were stable enough where she didn't need a transfusion.  She remained in the ICU for 3 days before going home with prednisone,  mycophenalate, and some other meds to keep her stable. Her recheck was 5 days afterward, and while her platelets were up, her red count dropped a bit.  The next day we rushed her back to the emergency vet where she received two transfusions because she was going critical. They found no bleeds, no ticks, no cancer.  After 2 days, we went back home with things looking optimistic. Her next recheck was 4 days away.  By that time, she lost mobility in her hind legs and had to be brought in on a stretcher.  They prescribed her pain meds but other than that her numbers were stable. Two days later we were rushing her back to the emergency vet because she was vomiting blood.  There,  they had to put a tube to flush her GI tract due to a rare side effect from the Mycophenalate. The next day, we were told her numbers were down again, and they took her off the Mycophenalate and switched to cyclosporin and azithaprine instead. That time they ended up also putting an esophageal tube in since she was severely anorexic. She stayed in the ICU for nearly 6 days that were touch and go and got another transfusion before she finally went back home. She also was battling pneumonia at that time from aspiration. We got a bone marrow biopsy which revealed her body no longer made red blood cells at all, and a GI biopsy revealed she developed irritable bowel disorder.  When she was home she was on about 10 round the clock medications on top of tube feedings 4 times a day.  The first few days were really hopeful. She started walking on her own a little though we by then had a sling to help with mobility.  She began eating her food which she hadn't done since the ordeal began.  She even started acting more like her old self.  Then on the 19th, all of a sudden, she started having sinus issues.  Her normal vet could not see her that day, so after consulting her ER team, I scheduled an appointment for first thing the next morning. I watched her spiral downward as evening turned into late night.  Her face seemed to shrink like her body was eating the muscle suddenly. I stayed up with her all night comforting her and continuing her medications.  I stopped her tube feedings because she was bloating again meaning her GI tract wasn't digesting the food anymore. We made the decision to end her suffering that morning because we honestly saw no way she could combat how quickly she went down overnight.  The ER vet mentioned that we were near the end of the road by that point anyway, as she was too weak to attempt removing her spleen to see if that would help. By the end of it, we spent over $12,000 on credit cards trying to save baby girl, only to lose her in the end. My heart goes out to everyone dealing with the struggle of fighting this disease and trying to decide the best course of action.  We fought. We fought hard for nearly a month.  It took so much out of us financially and emotionally.  It's a long roller coaster of good days and bad days.  In the end, I don't regret giving my girl a fighting chance.  She was a hell of a fighter to push through like she did. But, knowing what I do now, I probably would have euthanized her the time she began vomiting blood.  I'm glad I got to spend that extra week or so with her, and she really did have some fantastic days when she came home that last time, but I'd trade all that for not having to see her struggle to breathe during her last few hours of life waiting on the vet to arrive to let her finally rest. Those are images that will always stay with me. If you are contemplating what to do whether to go through with treatment, opt for euthanasia, or are even wondering when to draw the line and give up the fight, just ask yourself if you're truly prepared for if the absolute worst happens. Are you prepared for the medications, the financial cost and emotional roller coaster this medical condition causes? Are you prepared to rush your fur baby to the emergency vet in the middle of the night even if it's 2 hours away like in my pups case? Are you prepared to see your loyal friend weaker than you've ever seen them, losing mobility, possibly in pain? The good days are amazing and the bad ones are heartbreaking. Whether you choose to fight or not, try to prepare yourself for all possibilities good and bad so you won't be overwhelmed. And remember you aren't alone. Your vet has very good insight on what's the best choice and will be more than happy to guide you every step of the way no matter what choice it is.


KimK
June 23, 2017

My little Chief died last night from this think I'd never even heard of. He was 8. If he was awake, his tail was wagging, he was jumping to get my attention, and he was smiling. That suddenly changed day before yesterday. He was no longer energetic, but he was still eating and drinking and taking the treats that he enjoyed so much. No matter what he had done, you'd quickly forget just looking into those big brown doe eyes!  He was only 8. He lasted a day and a half after vague symptoms first began. Even as he lay dying he was still his curious, loving self. When he'd get a small burst of strength, he'd lift his head to look around or stand up on wobbly legs and try to walk. He'd make it two steps before falling down exhausted. If he thought he could get closer to me, he'd try, laying his head on my leg, snuggling next to me, anything to be close. It took him so fast! His 17 year old father has howled since Chief died at 7:15 last night. Fortunately my apartment neighbors haven't complained and when I went to management this afternoon to explain, they were very understanding. I don't know how to comfort him. He's always been around other dogs and with Chief for 8 years through thick and thin.


Wayne Simmons
June 22, 2017

A couple of additional points from my earlier post. We are meeting with our vet today to ask here a couple of questions about our dog's death. We want to know why she would prescribe a sulfa-based antibiotic when it's known that there's a connection between those and IMHA (our Westie went through a round of those antibiotics prior to coming down with IMHA). We also want to know why some kind of anti-clotting drugs weren't administered after the blood transfusion (our vet thinks a blood clot was what ultimately killed her that morning). I'm not sure what we hope to achive by asking these questions other than possibly some closure...but we're all just devastated over Rocky's death. Hopefully it gets easier to cope with.


P. Reeves
June 20, 2017

My 9-yo cocker spaniel, Katie, is currently in critical care, receiving a blood transfusion. She was FINE last night. Today, she is hanging by a thread. The vet told me about IMHA, and I'm terrified about this! Today alone is costing me $1300, and I don't know how I can pay for extended care if it comes to that. I rescued Katie 2 years ago, and she has become SO SO special to me! Katie is my 3rd cocker spaniel, and I'd never heard of IMHA. Thank you for the useful information here.


Wayne Simmons
June 20, 2017

We just lost our 10 year old Westie to what we think was a PTE brought on by a blood transfusion fighting IMHA. We were about three weeks into the fight and Rocky seemed like she was getting the upper hand...perking up, getting her energy back. Then came the morning of Father's Day where we woke up to her being 180 degrees different...panting, no energy, gasping for air. It was a Sunday, but we called the vet and were in the process of loading her up to go when she tensed up and died right in our arms. Gut wrenching. I cannot convey the sadness and grief our family is experiencing right now. This disease is heinous to say the least. I pray for everyone who has to fight it...but it certainly is an uphill grind. Cherish every day you have with your pets for it can all end tomorrow.


Jennifer K
June 12, 2017

IMHA is a terrible, nasty disease. Our beautiful Cocker Spaniel was diagnosed about 6 years ago. With the incredible care of a specialist and prayer, she pulled through but it reeked havoc on our home, our schedules, and our wallets. I remember reading horrible stories of dogs passing rapidly from the disease and it was so hard to educate yourself and stay positive at the same time. Lady was on medication for about a year and a half until we stopped. We also stopped vaccinating her as well as a recommendation from her vet. I'm happy to say that's 8 years old she is still a crazy, fun little girl. We are so fortunate to have her today despite the grim statistics. It is by far the scariest thing I've witnessed. And it took her a very long time to get back to her normal self. But I want to be a voice of hope to people out there reading. Survival is possible. Don't loose hope.


Theresa Baldwin
May 27, 2017

I’ve read up on IMHA and in some cases IMHA could be traced back after receiving vaccinations. It is in (my opinion) that my dog died after contracting IMHA after receiving his yearly vaccinations. My Chihuahua was 4years old. I went to a new vet and after getting his updated shots he was lethargic and seem to be sore at the injection site. This had never happened with my old vet. He seem to be fine after a couple of days of laying around the house. After 1 ½ months he had all the signs of IMHA. He was fine one day and the next day he was not eating, lethargic and weak, gums pale, and had blood in his pee. We took him to the ER and was told he had IMHA and he had lost 2/3 of his blood. They suggested blood transfusions, but was told we would have to take him somewhere else to have it done since the blood they had expired 3 days prior to bringing my dog in and then had the nerve to say they could give him the expired blood, but wouldn’t suggested it. We did not have the money for infusions anyway so we opt to start with prednisone and other medications. I wanted to take him back to my old vet for a 2nd opinion, but he didn’t make it through the night. I pray for those who've lose part of their 4 legged family especially by this disease.


Elyse
May 21, 2017

Our bulldog was diagnosed with Evans Syndrome in March of 2015. She was lethargic (which is hard to tell in a bully) and had drops of blood coming from her nose.  She sneezed and it sprayed everywhere.  Her gums and insides of her lips are also pale.  She had been on prednisone since her diagnosis. She had one terrible relapse a few months ago and pulled through.  The vet added mycophenalate to her prednisone therapy.  Sadie suffered from multiple bouts of clostridium infections and ringworm on her skin the last few years.  It was a fine line on how to keep her immune system in check. Sadly,  we lost her 2 days ago to presumably heart failure.  She crashed fast.  I'm not clear if it was related to the Evans Syndrome or not--I'll guess it's related.  She lived a pretty good life for 2 years after her diagnosis.  The steroids gave her terrible side effects,  but I'm grateful to have had her as long as we did following such a terrible diagnosis.  Prayers go to ask of you whose fur babies suffer from this.  It's devastating.


Pat
May 16, 2017

I lost my beloved chihuahua 4 lb, 12 year old Maxine yesterday, 5/15/2017, to IMHA after 6 days  of hospitalization and less than a full day back home for Mother's Day.  After three transfusions in one week, 5mg prednisone daily  as well as a twice daily immuno-suppressant,  her red blood cell count dropped from 20  to 14.  I am devastated.  If you could believe, the day before on 5/14/2017, I lost my oldest chihuahua, Jodie, at 17 years old to heart failure.  Two doggies in less than 24 hours..what could be more cruel to a dog lover!  Maybe Maxine just wanted to join Jodie, as Maxine just loved old Jodie,  but I'm telling you this IMHA is a horrible disease.  I pray for every dog diagnosed. Maxine was a rambunctious, loving,  chihuahua, adored by everyone who came in contact with her, including those at the referral hospital in Woburn Massachusetts.  As suddenly as I snap my fingers, Maxine became lethargic on 5/8.  Within three hours, she would not eat. Maxine was a voracious food lover of her ID Low Fat wet canned food.  We called our vet, who knows her so well,  and was told to rush her to the ER.  She was due for her geriatric six-month check-up literally the next day!  Her blood work in January was perfect! We had a bone marrow biopsy that diagnosed her condition only a week ago today on 5/9.   The disease was in the bone marrow, but the hope was that with enough money, medication, transfusions and time, we would beat the odds. We were so hopeful.  She was eating again on the 5th day, wagging her tail, even responding to some barking dogs when we went to visit her twice daily. Yet here we are.  We face the huge bill and no Maxine. Gone forever. We were told there was no hope. Her form of IMHA did not allow her to regenerate her own red blood cells, it seemed, and she would be on transfusions for a life-time.  Might another immunosuppressant have worked?  Could she have turned the corner with another transfusion--but she hated the hospital, and in the end, I had to ask myself, what if she died alone in her cage away from me.  The complications of all those drugs are well-documented...and yet, did I make the right decision?  She was a fighter; I am a fighter.  Could we have gotten through this dreadful disease together? Maxine had a bad reaction to her rabies vaccine last time she had it.  She was lethargic and chilled. It was the 3-year vaccine.  I do believe that this is one very significant possibility as the vector.  I am not anti-vaccine, but I believe NO VACCINES for small, lap doggies--even biting chihuahuas, which Maxine was not (and she had no more teeth, as she came to us already as a 6 year old mother with very bad teeth which we had pulled). THERE IS NO REASON for a small dog who lives at home, not exposed to other dogs but those at home, not groomed but by the owner, not fed or cared for by anyone but the owner to get all these VACCINES.  Although we only had the rabies vaccine--nothing else--still it was the bad reaction about three years ago that haunts me now.  PLEASE, IF MAXINE'S DEATH MEANS ANYTHING, monitor closely for years after a bad reaction to a vaccine--something is up and it may not rear its head for years...but be vigilant!!! My vet wonders if Maxine had a tumor, undetected, that was causing so much error in immune response.  Maxine was a mother of eight puppies before we got her.  Last year, she had a benign, very small breast mass removed.  We couldn't get enough tissue by needle aspiration, apparently, so it made sense to go in for more tissue and remove the whole growth.  Was this a mistake? Or was this an indication that some other tumor was in her?  We had thoracic chest X-rays and abdominal ultrasounds at the ER referral hospital--should we have had a CAT scan?  I am crying non-stop, second-guessing myself, feeling angry that maybe if I had caught signs of this horrid disease earlier, I might have my dear Maxine with me now.  Everyone says no--but really now?  When the weather was rainy recently and she liked to sleep, did I mis-read that sign?  Did I not see that her ears were not as pink as they should have been--but her tongue, which stood out from her mouth with no teeth, was plenty pink, even at a red cell count of 14?  Did I not cuddle her enough for her to tell me," Mommy I don't feel so well."  Did I not stay home enough with her, rather than run off to my demanding clients of my small business? Why, why, why this perilous disease that strikes so remarkably quickly and kills so ruthlessly our doggies of unconditional love?  One resolution for sure: live each day, every day, as if the next will hurt so badly.  Time heals?  Not so sure about...time feels more like an enemy, right now. And yet, could time have stabilized Maxine? Maxine, I so miss you!


Susan
May 7, 2017

My sweet top poodle was diagnosed a couple of years or so ago. She had a complication of having a gallbladder that was enlarge and ready to burst. She was stabilized (a very harrowing week of not knowing if she would survive). Then the surgery. The the months of prednisone and chemo drug and three other mess around the clock. Towards the end of treatment, when her lab remained stable, I started research on other alternative supplements to support her. Both my daughter and I suffer from autoimmune disease and are taking high antioxidants called, AC-glutathione. I looked on line and spoke to the veterinarian hemotologist. He said give it a go. I give her 50 mg per day. She immediately had blood values rise and remain stable. I continue this 50mg dose for life. Please be sure you speak to your veterinarian and also you need to make sure it is AC. It's the pre-digestible form. All others just go through the body undigested. Oh, and it's not cheap! But neither is love!


Janine
May 2, 2017

I just lost my beautiful girl Liza this week to IMHA. She was a 12 year old italian greyhound. About 3 years ago she came across her first round of the disease. After catching it somewhat early on, and with Prednisone and Azathioprine combined, we managed to stabilize for several good years. About a week ago I noticed all the signs again, and took her in. Her number was 28, which dropped to 10 within a day. We did one blood transfusion, and her numbers jumped to 27, then started to fall... 21....17 and then yesterday morning 10. Unfortunately, a heart scan showed that the side of her heart was also swollen, pointed to early signs of congestive heart failure. She was also coughing a ton the past month, had rapid breathing, and had a distended belly. All signs of heart failure. So, after weighing the option of a second transfusion (which I couldn't afford) or putting her down, I made the incredibly heart wrenching decision to let her go. They told me that I needed to do it within the day, because of how fast she was failing. It was the worst decision that I've had to make. I am fully grieving her loss, as is my other Italian greyhound, her sister. There will always be a bit of regret that I couldn't do more. It will be a strange season figuring out our new normal without her.


Amber
April 28, 2017

Our dog just got diagnosed with this yesterday. It is destroying me watching him go trough this. Our vet said if he doesn't improve we should look at putting him down. He doesn't want him to suffer over the weekend. He is drinking but not eating. He can't walk and his breathing is labored. He is on a steroid and an antibiotic. We live in the north so there are ticks and he has already been diagnosed with lymes and another ticket born disease I can't spell it though. I am absoutly caused by this been crying since I got home. We have to carry him outside to go to the bathroom. Now I am scared of the blood clot issue because he hasn't been getting up.


Sara Onufrak
April 27, 2017

A week ago today, April 20th, I came home from work and my 7 year old German Shepherd Gretchen was very lethargic, wouldn't eat and couldn't seem to get enough water. She urinated on the throw rug in my room and I saw nothing but blood. I rushed her to the vet where she was given IV's and steroids, labs were drawn and X-RAY and ultrasounds to discover she had IMHA. She was very jaundice to the point her ears tongue and belly were yellow. They kept her stable at a count of 16%. I took her home Friday night with prednisone. She would not eat at all but drank quite frequently then would vomit and drink some more. I took her back on Saturday for labs which were up to 18%. She was very restless Saturday night but we got thru it. Sunday I took her again for labs which were up to 24% I took her home and about 4pm she started panting and breathing heavy. I held her in my arms trying to comfort her thinking it was the prednisone, by 4:30 she drew her last breath and passed away in my arms. I can't help but think I did something wrong or should have noticed something sooner but the more I research the more I realize how awful and fast this disease can act. My heart goes out to all my fellow pet owners who have watched their happy healthy fur-babies go threw this.


Guadalupe
April 25, 2017

I lost my  5 yr old English bully to IMHA  just yesterday!!! I'm still in shock and numb!!! I can't believe how quickly this vicious disease took my precious Feebie!  She was well one day and the next,  she quickly stopped eating and became lethargic.  My life feels so empty without her....I will  miss you always Feebie! 


Leslie Sutton
April 23, 2017

It is five months since we lost our beautiful five year old whippet Pippa to this appalling disease. The swift decline was horrific. I feel so bad that we had to leave her at the veterinary hospital but travelled back and forth each day to spend time with her....each time we went our girl looked worse and worse until on the fourth day she lost her fight. The shock and trauma of her terrible ordeal hits me every single day and I still find it hard to accept my baby could be taken in such a cruel way. My sympathies to everyone who has faced this cruel disease with a furbaby.


Cynthia Saltiel
April 22, 2017

I am devastated and heartbroken! I have not been able to stop crying for two days! My sweet, Toto was diagnosed with IMHA last Saturday. Less than a week ago and now he has passed! He seemed fine and then totally lethargic. I took him to an emergency vet who gave me the shocking diagnosis with a 15% survival rate . The dr. Stated he would need s blood transfusion and hospital stay at a cost of $3500-$4000. I was in shock and left with them only giving him a steroid shot. Sunday was Easter and he seemed a little better. Monday I took him to my family vet who gave the same diagnosis but sent me to a wonderful trauma vet hospital. His PCV count was 14. After the blood transfusion it went to PCV 26. The next day I was giving him Prednisone but we went for labs and they were the same. Next day his breathing seemed labored. PCV was now 23. He was started on liquid Aspirin. His breathing was still labored and would not eat. Just drink. I got so scared I took him in again and he had another blood transfusion and his PCV was 29. Labored breathing scared me! I felt it was a side effect from the Prednisone. He was put on another medicine. In the morning it was all a blur! I woke to seeing him at the end of the bed with his little head up. I carried him like a baby and took him outside. I ran in the house to go to the bathroom and when I came out he was on his side. Carrying him he was limp. One minute he was alive and second died in my arms with a little white foam from his mouth. Eyes open. I blame myself! Did I carry him wrong and it caused a blood clot? What brought on the IMHA? March I gave him Advantage 2 for flea and tick then I switched to seresta collar. Was it that? I gave him the Interceptor plus to protect against heart worm , was it that? I boarded my dogs for a weekend for a parents weekend at my sons college. Was that too stressful for him, even though he had been there before. All I know is I feel like a horrible mother to not get him well. Why did I not pick something up? Heartbreaking and can't stop crying. I loved him so much!


Terry
April 10, 2017

On April 4th we lost our beloved Rosie. She was a 10yr old Dapple Dachshund. On Saturday 4/1 she seemed fine. She had energy and all seemed well. Her appetite for her kibble was low but she readily accepted treats. I didn't think too much about it. Sunday 4/2 She was a bit sluggish. Her stool that morning was very soft and ORANGE. I thought she had some intestinal issue. We watched her that day hardly eat and just sort of lay around (more than usual) On Monday 4/3 were getting worried. She spit up some yellow thick material with undigested food in it. We rushed her to our vet, where they did an exam and blood work. We were told she was anemic and to watch her for deteriorating signs. On Tues 4/4 we got the results of the bloodwork. Her number was 33. We returned to the vet for an x-ray and another check. We were given an antibiotic and anti-nausea meds and started her on 5mg of prednisone. She was still not eating or taking treats. She was extremely lethargic. She made it thru the day but, you could tell that she wasn't improving. Later that night she had a violent episode of vomiting w/diarrhea at the same time. Her breathing was becoming a bit labored. My wife insisted that we take her to the Emergency Vet Clinic. We had bloodwork done there, ultrasound exam (possible internal bleed?) They could get the results immediately. Her number was 11 at this time. The vet came out and gave us the most unimaginable news. She was dying. Our precious dog had IMHA and likely wouldn't make it thru the nite without heroic measures. He explained to us how the treatment was horrific and the likelihood of a positive outcome wasn't good. We made the most difficult decision you can imagine. We were with our little baby when she went to sleep. We couldn't put her thru that torture. As hard as it was to let her go at least she wouldn't have to endure the tortuous treatment. We were incredulous. Last week we had our little girl with us and now she is gone. How could this be?? What kind of a cruel, evil, thing is this IMHA? The suddenness of the death spiral just left us floored. We are both devastated. I see her everywhere I look. I can't stop thinking about her. She was the best! In my week of mourning, I have gotten some solace from this site.
https://psychcentral.com/lib/grieving-the-loss-of-a-pet/ Our hearts go out to all of you who have gone or will go thru this nightmare.


Maris
April 2, 2017

My beautiful girl, Pearl, passed away from IMHA on Feb 25th. She was fit and healthy but just 1.day she wouldn't eat and seemed depressed. I thought she was reacting to grief from the death of her sister Portia 5 weeks earlier. I took her to my vet. A most wonderful vet who gave me the news. It was IMHA. Pearl Was immediately hospitalised and had the first of 3 blood transfusions. They knew it was too aggressive and just could not be controlled so she was going to have something called plasma exchange. Sadly she did not make it and towards the end f the 3rd transfusion she suffered blood clots to the lung and departed this world. I don't understand this des ease. It's ugly . It's aggressive and has the ability to destroy your dog . I remain grateful and thankful that she was looked after and believe me they really tried to save her but fats decided on a different course . One that took her life and has left me feeling empty and lost. My beautiful girls, Pearl and Portia are together in rest and one day I hope we will all be together again.


Kelsey
March 14, 2017

My 7 year old miniature schnauzer Daisy has just recently been diagnosed with IMHA. She received a blood transfusion on March 10th, put on prednisone, azathioprine, and low dose aspirin. She won't eat, but will drink water, so I've been giving her meds through a syringe with water. I've tried to get her to eat everything from boiled chicken, canned chicken, tuna, rice, noodles, dog food, canned dog food, the list could go on. I took her back to the vet on 3/11 because I noticed her skin was more yellow than before her transfusion. Her pcv was 40, so the doctor gave her a few shots to help calm her stomach in hopes she would eat. As of 3/13 I started giving her baby food in the syringe as she won't eat anything still. I noticed today that her skin is more yellow, and I am fearful she isn't getting better. The vet talked against doing another transfusion as it would only be the same result if the first one did not work. It seems that she's getting better, but I am fearful of going back to work in a week. I'm not sure what else to do for her. The cost, is as all of you have saod, extremely expensive, and I don't know that I can financially do much more to save her. I'm at a loss right now.


Rene Griesel
March 10, 2017

Our little miniature pincher, Yasmin passed away just over 3 weeks ago.  She was just over 11 years old but broke a leg when she was 6 weeks old which never recovered after the operation.  She suddenly passed away through the night as the next morning we found her already passed.  I noticed that her tongue and gums were very pale after she died but I just assumed this is what happens when animals passes away.  Yesterday, my sister called me and said that our other little pincher, Jade was not eating and it looked like she had no energy to lift her head.  I went to have a look and saw that her tongue was also a very pale colour.  I could not see her gums as she did not want to open her mouth.  She could barely walk and was just very weak.  I gave her some rooibos tea as I thought maybe she was a bit dehydrated as she was not eating or drinking.  I quickly realised that she was fading away very fast and rushed her to the vet.  The vet immediately checked her gums and body and said she was severely anemic and need a blood transfusion within the next couple of minutes.  It all just happened so fast.  I was not realising what exactly he was saying.  He could not say what may be the cause but said that it is a 50/50 chance that after the transfusion that will cost me R6,000.00 that she will recover.  He said that he treated another animal a couple of days back that was not as bad as Jade but the dog never survived the blood transfusion.  I did not have R6,000.00 to cover a blood transfusion and then another afterwards as I am a single mother of a 16 year old girl.  He then suggested we put her to sleep.  It all just happened so fast - within minutes we had to make the decision to put her to sleep.  I am a huge animal lover (any animal) and always promised myself that I will never put an animal to sleep but yet yesterday I had to make that decision.  I looked into Jade's eyes and I could see the terrible effect this disease has on her.  She hardly breathed, her heart rate was sky high, she was unable to move.  And then, I made the decision.  I had to say goodbye to her and left the room.  A couple seconds later the vet came out and told me we can take her.  Tears was streaming out as I then realised what I've done.  As I am typing this I can hardly see the screen as my tears falling down my face.  I am a horrible human being.  How could I have done this.  I have so many regrets.  I paid R500.00 to kill my baby.  How will I ever forgive myself for doing this.  I have another dog and two cats and I am so scared.  I am going off my mind.  Every time one of them just lies down I wake them up to see whether they are breathing and whether their gums and tongues are normal looking.  I am terrified of also loosing anyone of them.  I really honestly hope you all have a better outcome than what me and Jade had.  Just one thing I cannot understand.  Is it possible that both Yasmin and Jade passed away of the same disease within 3 weeks from each other?


Theresa
March 8, 2017

Update on my Jack Russell Maisie who has Evans syndrome. Her blood work on March 6th was good and the vet believes she is now in remission. She has been off prednisone for 5 weeks now and her platelet count was normal. She will remain on Atopica until September but I don't need to bring her in until then for more blood work. I realize how lucky we are to have this result and know how close we came to losing her. I know she could relapse after the Atopica is withdrawn but we remain optimistic. My heartfelt sorrow for those who lost and lose their fur companions to this disease, and heartfelt hope for those who are in treatment.


Tammy
February 27, 2017

Our Chi Chloe was diagnosed on Saturday.  We are in shock and gutted.  She is 6 yrs old.  Dr cannot find a cause.  She had transfusion this morning, her number was 15 up to 27 and now already back to 18.  I am ready to give up as this is a horrible horrible unfair roller coaster.  AND like all the rest she was totally fine on Friday, but when she would not eat Sat and had no energy my gut said something wrong and we rushed her in.  Vet was happy thinking we caught in time and was giving us some hope.  Reading the comments has given me renewed hope.  We are just waiting on the results of an ultrasound and probably do a second transfusion.  All these comments are similar and gives me hopes for a miracle.


Mark Nicoll
February 26, 2017

On February 2, 2017 our female pitbull Mocha was diagnosed with IMHA. Her blood count was at 18. This was at 11:00 a.m and three hours before she seemed perfectly fine. I have had many dogs in my life but Mocha was my favorite by far. She was amazing in every way. If either my wife and I were sad she would know if and do everything she could. To help us. The mystique these dogs get due to their breed does not tell the story. Our baby girl in the 11.5 years she lived gave us absolutely no trouble what so ever.The get and the technicians who treated each save nobody said the prayed she would make it thru decayed she was so sweet. Unfortunately a day and a half and 6500.00 later we lost the most beautiful dog to walk this earth. Sudden and quick. My wife is a dog groomer and a dog lover who has yet to recover. We miss you little girl but know we will see you again.


Angela
February 23, 2017

Thank you all for sharing your posts. It is good to know we are not alone in our battle. My 9yr old dachshund Frankie has been battling this horrible illness for almost 2 weeks now. We are hoping he will pull through. You are all in my thoughts.


Lynn
February 22, 2017

Wanted to give an update on our Cavapoo. After 4 or so months, and LOTS of ups and downs, we have our playful pup back. She is now basically stabilized with a hematocrit of 39% as of this week (lowest was 17%). We have achieved glycemic control on insulin (ended up with diabetes due to the steroids). She is finally off the prednisone but still on immunosupressive therapy at this point. Vet did labs which show no signs of organ damage after all that. For those of you in the midst of it, have hope! That's all that got us this far.


Angie
February 18, 2017

I'm fighting tears that won't stop flowing; even though I feel like I can't cry anymore. Yesterday my husband took our golden retriever/chow mix, Chrysler, to the vet. Chrysler was a rescue that I adopted 6 years ago. I've been very fortunate that she has been a healthy dog that has only had 1 UTI since I've had her. On Monday, we noticed she didn't eat all of her food but she seemed fine. Tuesday she peed on a rug near the door. This is unusual for her but she otherwise seemed okay. She still wasn't eating all of her food but we didn't worry too much as she seemed okay otherwise. By Thursday, she was panting even while resting and felt warm. I gave her 1/2 of a Tylenol and we decided to take her to the vet the next day. She was still up and moving around but seemed less active. On Friday, the vet did lots of tests. 3 tumors were found in her abdomen. The vet isn't sure if the tumors are in her liver, pancreas or spleen. Her gums are white. Her WBCs are elevated. Her RBCs are decreased. Her liver function tests are elevated but her amylase is fine. The vet isn't sure if it's pancreatitis, and probably isn't her pancreas given her amylase being okay. Her bilirubin was elevated in her urine and blood. She received IV fluids, 2 antibiotic injections and an injection for nausea. The vet wrote down lots of potential diagnoses but at the end of each one, he concluded she has cancer. The vet let me bring her home last night (Friday) but we kept the IV catheter in place and she wore an Elizabethan collar while at home. Today, Saturday, we took Chrysler back for a follow up visit. A different vet saw her (that works in the same clinic since the vet we saw yesterday was off work today), she did more lab work and said Chrysler's WBC is higher today and her RBCs are lower. She doesn't think Chrysler needs a transfusion right now but wanted me to take her to a specialist vet/emergency clinic for further testing. She thinks Chrysler has IMHA. After a few lengthy tearful conversations, all I can think about is the 3 tumors that were on the X-rays. If Chrysler has cancer (especially liver or pancreas), the IMHA could be caused by the cancer/tumors. I brought her home today after more IV fluids and she ate really well for the first time in days. She's drinking water well but she is pretty fatigued. She hates to be away from home, she's really nervous away from home or when she is around people she doesn't know (remember she's a rescue dog) and I can't bear the thought of her being cooped up in a kennel for days to weeks while getting tests and treatment for a condition that will not extend her life. I know it won't be long for her. I'm cuddling her and petting her and crying while talking to her. She doesn't leave my side. I'm dreading the inevitable decline that I know will happen soon. The grief is immense and I'm heartbroken at the thought of life without her. My love for this dog is immeasurable, like no other. She's my girl, my pal, my heart. Thinking of all the other families and dogs affected by this terrible disease and praying a cure will be found soon.


Cathey
January 24, 2017

Charley was diagnosed with Evan's disease a few days after Christmas.  PCV of 11%, blood transfusion, several days in the hospital and now she's home with us.  She's on all of the meds described by many here.  Blood tests every week, we're waiting on today's results.    I've been really encouraged by how her energy level has picked up substantially .  However she has lost 3 pounds in just a week or so, she's only 31 pounds so this is a lot for her.   The costs are astronomical already, more than 5,000 and it seems that it's going to continue indefinitely.  Charley is an incredible dog - a chinese mongrel, our rescue puppy from Hong Kong. When things were really rough those first few days, i couldn't believe how hard it hit me, the chance we might lose her.  I didn't know she was so sick - and when it became apparent it was devastating. So sad to read how many people here who has lost their presence animal family members to this disease , truly sorry.   for everyone else in the middle of this journey, thanks for sharing here.  Really appreciating reading this tonight.   I am optimistic about Charley at this stage, and I know we are getting really good care.


Andrew
January 23, 2017

Our sweet little 6 year old Dachsund mix Rosie succumbed to her battle with this horrible, miserable disease this morning.  I had never heard of this disease until I took her to he vet this past Thursday after she had been lethargic a few days and was reluctant to eat that morning. After 4 nights in the hospital, and 4 blood transfusions, and about $8k, we had to admit defeat.  We are absolutely heartbroken.  The roller-coaster ride this disease will take you on is absolutely awful.  I've had some pretty miserable experiences in my life, but this is towards the top of the list. She did not have any kind of cancer, not exposed to any kind of tick-born disease and did not get into any kind of poison or anything along those lines.  My mind is completly blown.  This dog was perfectly healthy and happy a week ago and now she is gone. Our neighbors two doors down just went through this with one of their dogs last year.  She survived was succumbed to kidney failure 6 months later.  Nobody deserves to experience this disease.  Not having any idea what causes this is the most frustrating part.  This is the worst.


Theresa
January 22, 2017

This is my 3rd post. My 7yr old female JRT Maisie was diagnosed with Evans syndrome in early Sept 2016. Fortunately she responded well to the first and only blood transfusion. We are now into our 4th month of treatment. She takes one Atopica capsule daily and is down to 1/4 tablet of. Prednisone every other day. Hope to lower the prednisone dosage further  this week. She is still eating and drinking more than usual, but better able to control urination so fewer indoor accidents no.  She is doing well, exhibiting the Jack Russell zest for life. The only issue I've seen is decreased stamina. We walk for 10-15 minutes only. Our vet confirmed that this is a very real side effect of the prednisone and advised us not to push her beyond her physical limits. This was good to know. We and Maisie have been lucky so far, so there is light sometimes while dealing with this disease. We will deal with relapse if and when it occurs, but have a dog who is enjoying her life right now. My heart goes out to those who have lost their dear canine companions.


Marilyn Rowe
January 21, 2017

Hi all..I and my toy poodle Cuppie are still battling Imha.  Her las vet decided to dc her atopica for no known reason so I hurriedly took her to another vet and he not only restarted her atopica but doubled it. Her numbers pcv fell to 18 so he started her on doxycycline and azathriopine and continued with the pred..today her pcv went up to 19.5  she has already had 2 transfusions 12/13 and we are preparing for another if need be.  wow, wow, this is such a rollercoaster....we love cuppie so very much...i pray for her and all of you.


Jessica
January 19, 2017

My beagle, Zoila is 5 yrs old and she has been in the hospital for 4 nights suffering from IMHA. She has the same story as all of you, fine one day and lethargic the next. She has had 4 blood transfusions and is now stable at 23%. Her lowest count was 10% RBC. She kept dipping down after the transfusions and I felt hopeless. I didnt do the ultrasound to check for Cancer because I couldn't afford it. Her spleen and liver are a bit enlarged. The specialist said to not to give up! That her body needed more time with the anti suppressant medication. So I paid for two more nights in the hospital and hoped for the best. I am grateful that I kept her in the hospital since taking her to the ER and said yes to the blood transfusions. The good news is that today she is finally eating! She is also taking meds in pill form. This is the first day she looked and acted like her old self. I'm sharing this with all of you because we all need to have hope. I admit that the cost of this disease is extremely high and I wish there were more financial support out there or at least a payment plan. I wish you all the best. I had thought I was alone in this until I stumbled upon this site. I am praying for Zoila's recovery; she will be coming home soon!


Jeffrey Horn
January 17, 2017

My male, nearly 8 year old Doberman Pinscher has been diagnosed today with IMHA. Friday he threw up and I thought it was because he ate to fast after he threw again on Saturday I decided to take him his vet when he opened up on Monday. Today (Tuesday) I was worried the antibiotics I was prescribed weren't working I took him to an animal ER. As I type this he's receiving a blood transfusion. After his first, I visited him and he ate a few of his favorite treats and seemed to be doing better. I'm glad I read this article and the comments. Hopefully I can have some more time with him.


Luckys Mom
January 11, 2017

My 15 yr old shih-poo was diagnosed with Evans syndrome - his red blood cells and platelets are being attacked. Was in hospital for 5 days, 3 transfusions, discharged at 24. Follow up in 5-7 days unless emergency. On meds. This is an awful disease. I wish I had known about it sooner so I could look out for symptoms..wish they'd do more research to prevent such a large percentage of death.


Lisa
January 9, 2017

Hello.  My dog Boss had a horrible bout of IMHA, whereas his red blood cells were being attacked within the bloodstream.     (not caused by spleen) - he was in the hospital for 7 days with 4 blood transfusions and ended up with 3 immune suppressant medications. The blood levels had to go down to 12% for them to do the follow up transfusions, initially his count was much lower, they went to 20% and back down, then 22% and back down, then 25% and back down, then 24% and back down to 20% and remained stable - and within a month or so went up to 38%. Leaving him on the various medications with the side effects was the hardest part. Apparently cyclosporin is in a castor oil base, which can make a dog very ill, not eat, stomach pain, vomiting, I brought him to ER twice, just to have specialist group add more medications for stomach pain, vomitting, antibacterial, etc.  Only to find out later that it was most likely the Castor Oil base that was the cause, and a switch to another cyclosporin brand in a different base would have solved the problem. Luckily, I was able to take him slowly off the cyclosporin, with a different vet, and some published advice by Dr. Jean Dodd, on how to take a dog safely off this medication by reducing the amount to every 3rd day, etc, then one time per week. The specialist told me to give it to him daily until I ran out, cold turkey - I feel without the break inbetween the days he would have died from the vomitting (projectile - and bloody stools ). A replacement vet for my 2nd vet, told me about the other cyclosporin without the castor oil but he was off by then. Anyway, hopefully this small part of his recovery regarding the cyclosporin medication may help another dog parent. What I really dreaded reading about in the comments are the fairly large group of writers who euthanized their dogs after the first transfusion because of the vets 50/50 chance of survival spiels. I was told this every day that he was in the hospital when I got my call from the vet, 25% survival, 50% chance he will die by morning. I truly feel the vets do this to protect themselves because they are not very well versed in the latest imha research, published vet articles can be found with much searching on the internet. Please, don't let the vets scare you into euthanizing your beloved family member. The RBC numbers in a bad case, such as my dog's, will go down, and eventually they will stabilize and go up, with the medication combinations. It isn't easy, myself and my daughter visited my dog for at least an hour the first few days when he felt really listless, and brought blankets and water into a waiting room and spent hours with him on subsequent days. This also gave him a chance to get off the IV fluids, as they were starting to build up in his system, and if we hadn't visited, they would have left him on them 24 hours. We rubbed his legs lightly, a little lymph massage the assistant would have done if she could make the time, as he became very swollen. Currently I am slowly taking him off the prednisone, the research from Michigan State Learning Hospital showed the medications should have been reduced by about 50% and then kept on for 3 months to stablilize the condition. However, the specialists in my area kept him on Hospital dosages, including cyclosporine 100 mg twice per day - it was impossible to feed him during the cyclosporine with castor oil, only when I reduced him to 1x per day, as appropriate to his body weight, and following the Michigan research paper I found, and working alongside a diferent vet, was I able to feel good about taking him down to 1x per day, the specialists said since a month before I had reduced him to 1x per day that I couldn't reduce any more medications ( as a punishment ??) but I found a few errors they had made, and suddenly I was ok'd to take him off the cycloporine. ( still bloody stools and stomach pains, barely eating despite the double dosage of prednisone making him hungry ), they wanted me to cold turkey him, but I used Dr Jean Dodd's method and he was feeling better, and went off this med (Atopica) at that point, and no longer needed the additional antibacterials and antiemetic medicines. Why they didn't know about? or tell me about the alternative cyclosporine without the castor oil may have saved lots of discomfort and emergency room costs.  Please, research and ask questions, and try to find additional vets who have worked with these medications. I didn't have the additional money to get a naturapathic vet, but I read many sites, and put my dog on supplements with some chinese herbs to build blood, and built up from milk thistle to Same, to joint support, and better multivitamins.  Yes, the costs did make me worry, as I literally had enough for one more transfusion if needed, but the money as I was able to return to work started to build back up, and I do not regret taking that chance with him. He is lying on a plush pillow beside me now. Currently I am taking him off the prednisone, I am keeping him on an additional immune suppresant as a recent publication from Michigan State Veterinary College Irecommends, and I am upset I didn't find it sooner, as I could have reduced his meds by almost 50% during the stabilization period and he most likely would have been suppressed enough to not have remission, and would have felt a lot better sooner. Both vets wanted me to take him off prednisone quickly, then 5 mg then every other day, over 10 days. But he was on a double dosage, over the article recommendation and what the prednisone sight also estimated, for many months. I tried to follow the vets orders, and both times he went for the day off, the next day everyone is telling me he is dying and what I am doing is killing him. Obviously, you need to follow your own knowledge and instincts, I am reducing his amount daily, and have added some drops for the cushings symptoms - to help stimulate his adrenal system to produce cortisone on its own. This is taking some time, though I am reducing him fairly quickly, not nearly as quickly as the vets, but he is feeling pretty good compared to skipping a day. He is barking a bit, begging for treats, drinking and eating less, and doing his wiggle worm imitation when I rub his back legs. If he keeps doing well on the slight reductions, then I will continue them, if he does not, I will keep him where he is at a bit longer. [Editor's note: a section promoting specific services was removed to comply with VetzInsight's non-commercial policy.] Boss was diagnosed with a severe case of IMHA - please don't give up hope - ask the vets about alternate medications if one seems to be making your dog feel bad - they may know of an alternative, but just aren't thinking of it at that time, too busy addressing the symptoms, not the cause - in retrospect, with everything I have learned, my dog's recovery could have gone a lot easier for him - but when I see him wag his tail, sit on my lap or snuggle me when he gets cold, or excitedly attempt to chase a squirrel, or give me little doggie kisses ( big doggie kisses ) in this case - I just know he his glad to be alive and I know he will continue to feel better as the meds are further reduced. I will have to do some tests to make sure his adrenals start working, which may have been avoided if I had more information earlier, but it is what it is, he likes taking his pills and supplements because I wrap them in turkey, I was dipping them in a little butter ( he doesn't like peanutbutter or orange sweet potatoes, only white ones ) - but I had to stop as his liver enzymes remained elevated for far too long - the substitute vet told me to add a liver supplement formulated by vets, that I found on the internet - and his tummy is not so hard after he eats, so it appears to be working. Supplements have helped a lot, a strong multivitamin, preferably with glandulars, enzymes and probiotics, milk thistle, same, and a good joint supplement. Liver support if liver tests are high - they tell you it is expected because of the medications, so I added this much later than I wish I would have - only after the substitute vet said it could be lowered with nutritional support and it was an area of concern. Please do your best, hopefully you can do your research and find an experienced vet, the better supplements sooner are a great help, you know  your pet, you can get a good idea of what is helping or hurting by being aware and taking notes. My dog wasn't supposed to live past a few weeks of being out of the hospital, supposedly - yet, he is feeling noticeably better everyday. Don't let the vets scare you into euthanizing your pet or thinking it is hopeless. Do be careful to reduce the medications when you can, when the second blood count is high, the maintenance dose should be less than the hospital dose, and kept up for 3 months. You don't have to reduce prednisone last, newer research shows it is better to reduce it while still on the additional immune suppressants. - I learned this much later than I would have liked, so there are a few additional issues I have to be careful of - that would have been easier on my dog and I - if I had found this information out much sooner - but we all do our best.  Please do your best, and thank you to all of you who have not given up and who are helping your dogs to recover. My dog also started with a ulcer, which has healed during this time, despite that I do give him low dose aspirin whenever he appears to be moving sluggishly, most likely until he is off all medication, except thryroid, I will give it to him every other day to be on the safe side now that the ulcer is healed. ( most likely from some of the medications to treat the IMHA along with the supplements ).  Good luck to all - keep up the good fight - your dog is worth it!


Laura
January 6, 2017

My adorable cavashon Daisy was diagnosed with IMHA over 4 yrs ago in 2012. It happened very fast and by the time we got her to an emergency vet she was fading fast.  They gave us little hope for recovery and told us to prepare our son for the worst but miraculously she pulled through and eventually was able to be weaned off all medications but a week before xmas this year she fell ill again (this time I knew the symptoms and got her immediately to the vet). She's had a transfusion again and is back on steroids and immune suppressing meds. They think it was brought on this time by a bladder infection and sadly the prognosis for recovery a 2nd time is very bad but she was home for xmas and so far is holding her own so I'm praying she pulls through but happy we got to spend another 4 years with our precious girl who will be 10 in April.


Joe Walker
January 6, 2017

Just had our 6 yr old Border Collie diagnosed with IMHA earlier today...... we are all in shock.  3 days ago he was running around, barking, enjoying life...... yesterday it was like he was already dead.  Amazing on how fast it changed.  Thank you for all the comments..... so glad we are not alone in dealing with this terrible disease.  Not we have to decide what to do moving forward.


Monica Horn
December 29, 2016

My Dog Stewie, a 9 year old shepard mix was diagnosed with IMHA almost 2 years ago.  It was a very long road of ups and downs but he has pulled through.  I am writing this to those of you that are going on the emotional ride with your pet, do not lose hope, here is a chance your pet can pull through.


Donna Green
December 27, 2016

I'm laying here reading about all of these amazing beloved best friends crying as our standard poodle Dax and I lay next to our pit bull Keyra with this devastating disease. I had not heard of it until a few weeks ago. Our story is the same, there is no need for details other than a blood transfusion a week ago, lots of meds and we are losing her now. Our hearts are broken. A healthy, playful, beautiful, loving 6 year old girl to be taken way too soon. Myself, my husband, our son, and her poodle brother Dax will miss her so so much. Our beautiful pit bull girly girl. The sweetest most loyal, loving girl ever. I'm so sorry sweet girl that I don't know how to save you. You deserve all things good because you are amazing.


Marilyn Rowe
December 27, 2016

Imha is a devastating disease. My Cuppiegirl, a min poodle was fine on a Friday and on Sat we were rushing her to the ER for weakness and lethargy. She was diagnosed with IMHA on 12/10/16 and on 12/12/16 I took her to the vet where her RBCs were 1.8. She was given her first blood transfusion and started on prednisone, atopica, tagamet, orbax, and red meat, and vit tunic.  The following Friday another transfusion was needed.  So many blood tests, and wathching her go down hill is almost killing me, I am already in heart failure due to a recent heart attack. RBCs go up and down. now at 40 and we take her back tomorrow.  I am happy to be told that when she passes it will be quietly in her sleep and that she is not in any pain..she does suffer from constipation and i stopped the iron and am giving her canned pumpkin and olive oil hoping it helps.  for the last 4 yrs i was angry that she would poo in the house sometimes, now i sure would love it if she did it alot lol.  my heart goes out to all of you, try to keep up the battle and keep our own health in check...love to you


Kendall
December 20, 2016

I lost my yellow lab to the dreaded blood clot after treating his IMHA for 8 months. He seemed to be in good spirits until the day he passed. I miss him everyday and am grateful that when it decides to take them it takes them fast! Not too much suffering- just sleepy.


Jeff S.
December 18, 2016

IMHA is a vicious and quick attacker. My 7yr old Jack Russell Terrier (Tank) was fine one day and not the next. Started with lethargy, loss of appetite, swaying back and forth while standing, vomiting,  pale white gums, diarrhea, labored breathing. By 2nd day he was at vet. Diagnosis was IMHA, after you get over the shock of hearing what your hearing...then starts the real battle. The battle of your dog literally fighting for his life, and you virtually along side of him fighting also. 1st blood work comes back at 20% RBC, antibiotic and prednisone prescribed. 2nd blood work, 2 weeks later, 15% RBC. Talked transfusion but decided to add another immune system suppressor before transfusion.  Meds at this point are prednisone and azathioprine. Decided to discuss euthanasia as option within next couple days. 3rd blood work(2 days later) showed increase of RBC's to 17% which was encouraging so decided to do transfusion. 4th blood work(2hrs after transfusion)RBC increase to 27%. That is where we currently are at, most of the symptoms are gone but we're very early in recovery. I'm optimistic but not delusional. I'm very aware of what we're dealing with, I'm so sorry for any pet and there owners that go through this disease. It's horrible watching your dog struggle to breath, it's devastating. The kicker is how quick it happens and having to think of euthanasia, you have no time to prepare for this thing, it's not like watching a dog slowly get old and such. But now I know what to look for and will be on alert. I wrote this for a couple reasons, 1st to let other pet owners your not alone, someone is going through this with you and 2nd, there is HOPE! There is hope. It is also essential to have a good Veterinarian and not to wait if you see symptoms like these. Especially all of them together, beware of the pale gums, that is a dead give away. Speed of diagnosis is of the utmost importance. Keep your heads up but prepare for a battle folks.


Tara
December 4, 2016

Our Australian shepherd, Moki, looked tired and wouldn't eat on Tuesday night. On Wednesday he didn't want to eat or move and I noticed his breath was awful and gum were pale. We took him to the vet but his levels were not so low that he needed a transfusion. He came home with prednisone and  doxycycline and Pepcid twice a day. He began eating and moving a little. Last night he came upstairs to sleep. My husband sleep downstairs with him the other nights. His gum are still pale yellowish color. He goes back for blood work Thursday.


Amy
November 30, 2016

I lost my boy Copper to this on Oct 24, 2016 He was very active always playing ,well dog visits,came out of no where,very sad,it hit fast and he was gone in 3 days.I love and miss my baby so much.He was only 5,my best friend ever.I cry and miss him more each day.So hard to understand how fast this hits our babies and takes them from us.


Michele
November 18, 2016

My 5 year old parti poodle rescue was diagnosed on 11/13/16 with IMHA.  Went to work that morning she had vomited but nothing serious. Came home no barking no running just laying on the carpet having difficulty keeping her head up.  I took her to the emergency vet she had a CBC of 13 was given a blood transfusion took her the next day to our vet for obseration.  Brought her home with meds and that afternoon her gums were getting white and she was looking lethargic.  Took her to the ER again and another blood transfusion her CBC increased from 12 to 28.  Brought her into our vet the next day and her CBC was 20....had to make the decision to let her go because her count was dropping rapidly after the transfusions and their was nothing we could do.  I rescued April in April of 2011 at 18months and now I am loosing her to a devastating disease I had never heard of.  She had a vaccination two weeks before this happened.  Diagnosed  on the 13th and in doggie heaven on the 17th.


Manda
November 17, 2016

Please anyone who has or had a dog battling imha there is a Facebook support group filled with wonderful people all going through the same things. Search IMHA on Facebook.


Lisa
November 13, 2016

Our poodle is currently fighting IMHA. We woke up three weeks ago to find our normally energetic dog lethargic, refusing to eat or drink, and febrile. Took her to the vet immediately and she had a Hat of 18. Started on prednisone and antibiotics. Two days later there was very little improvement so we added methotrexate to the mix and she her energy and appetite increase slightly. Most recent blood test had her Hct at 35. Still low but we're happy with the progress and still fighting!


Shelley
November 11, 2016

My dog, Smuckers, is currently fighting for her life with this terrible disease. She received her second blood transfusion today. Tests have shown she is making a lot of new red blood cells. The immune suppressant drugs have only been in her for about 24 hours, so we are praying they will start working tomorrow. This is a nasty disease and we are heartbroken. We were out of town for the past 5 days before we noticed how lethargic she was. After 1.5 days at home with us, we knew we needed to take her to the vet. Her RBC was 15 - after the first transfusion it went up to 19 - now it's back down to 17. She is 9 years old, and we've had her since she was a puppy. Tests didn't indicate cancer, she's had no vaccinations since June, and doctors think it just came out of nowhere. I wish we had had time to prepare for this emotionally and financially. We are praying and hoping for a recovery, but I can't help think that she spent her last "good" weekend away from us with the dog sitter. We have visited her three time a day in ICU. We are devastated. This is a terrible disease and we pray for her strength, and the strength of all of you dealing with this, as well.


Lisa Hawker
November 6, 2016

Miriam Thompson-like your golden our Yorkie Poo is still barking, climbing stairs, etc. A little less energy, maybe sleeping more but she always has. Never stopped eating or drinking. She had a transfusion 10/21 and started meds at that time as she was at 12%. She made a touch of progress, but clearly the meds are not kicking in and she is dropping. We may have to make the dreaded decision this week. We pray for a recovery, but it seems to be a small percentage that make it...especially long term. I do think that maybe our vet should have sent us to a specialist sooner than retesting twice a week to see what was happening. We'll never know if she would have responded if treatment started sooner, but had she not been in the day after labor day for her annual exam I'm sure she would already be gone...as there were no symptoms that would have sent me running to the vet. She was 35% at annual which didn't concern them as much as a wonky platelet test. So 2 weeks later after returning from an out of state funeral for my day, she was retested. This time platelets were fine, but RBC was down to 27%. Had my vet explained that it might be IHMA we may have started treatment sooner. Instead we waited and did tests the following week, down to 17%, transfused 5 days later when at 12%. She mention while awaiting the visit to ER hospital that she could start doxycycline and prednisone, but waited the 5 days not knowing what we were dealing with. Unsure it would have mattered, but I see that many beloved dogs have been diagnosed and gone within a couple of days, so I'm grateful for a couple of weeks to deal with this...praying for a miracle, but hope is fading. My heart goes out to all of you in the battle and those recovering from the aftermath.


Lisa
November 6, 2016

Sorry for your loss. RIP Jemma. We are currently battling IMHA, as well. Popped up suddenly following Bravecto (flea/tick preventative) and Heartguard Plus dosing.Will never know if there is a connection, but strongly believe there is. Anyway, our Yorkie Poo has yet to lose her appetite, but she has always been food focused. We took her in Jan 5 of this year after her dad, a dear friend passed away unexpectedly. We knew that he would have wanted us to care for her. She had been doing amazingly well having switched her to a raw diet. Lost 6 lb pounds, cleared up ears, eyes, etc. Vet and groomer were amazed and said she didn't look like the same dog! On Sept 6th, her first annual since we got her and only an hour after learning my father passed away, her bloodwork showed a possible platelet issue and her red blood count was at 35% which is low normal. Came back 2 weeks later and it had dropped significantly. Two weeks ago, she had a blood transfusion as she was @ 12%, 22% following transfusion on a Friday. Monday she was only at 24.5%, next visit 21...and I can tell she is dropping. Bloodwork tomorrow but, we will probably have to euthanize her this week. We've known her for 5 yrs, had her for 10 mos, but are devastated. She is a sweet dog, still eating, drinking, barking just less energetic. I keep praying for a miracle, but the odds of long term success with this disease are not good. Such sad stories. We are lucky that Missy has lasted this long and I'm grateful for the time. I hope to make a pawprint ornament tonight and get a couple of nice pics to have done up on a mug or have a pencil sketch done. Cannot stop crying! Hugs to anyone going thru this.


Cheryl
October 27, 2016

My beautiful dog Jemma had this horrible diease. From reading others posts, she had similiar experience. She stopped eating on a Monday, I was not "too" worried about this cuz she goes thru these phases of not eating for one day. Well Tuesday I tried to feed Jemma, nope she wanted nothing to do with food so I let Jemma out and her back legs gave out, my heart raced, set up appt at vets within an hour and even going out to the car Jemma just fell to the ground. The vet said her blood levels (HCT) was at 11% and should be at 37% and Jemma had jaundice, the whites of her eyes turned yellow, her gums yellow and inner ears yellow. The vet kept her for the day for observation and recommended the 24/hour critical care vet for transfusions and ultrasound. A transfusion was done on Wednesday and Wed nite the vet called and said things look "good" her blood level was going up. I felt great, thought i would be taking her home soon. Needless to say, on Thursday morning the vet called and said he was very concerned about Jemmas overall outlook. What?? I guess with the 2nd transfusion that was done Wed night, they were expecting better results. Her blood level did go up to 21%....but was dropping slowly. And the vets really could not tell me why she had this IMHA even after numerous tests, Xrays, Ultrasounds, etc. All i know is things did not look good. After speaking to the vet Thursday night, vet said he would try different meds and see if she perks up. Jemma was getting very lethargic and had a hard time standing up on her own. Now on Friday, the vet said that Jemmas blood level dropped to 18% and the transfusions did not seem to work or any of the meds. That is when i had to do the worst. I stayed by my baby Jemmas side for a couple of hours til she was set free. I too, did alot of research and came up to this site and did not realise how common this IMHA is and the outcome not very favorable. I am glad that i see a few pets that do live thru this. I am very saddened my baby Jemma, who is a Rottweiler, who lived til 11 years 5 months and 9 days was taken so quickly with no time to prepare. My heart goes out to everyone here posting.


TSwartz
October 26, 2016

I posted about 6 weeks ago. My JRT was diagnosed the Friday after  Labor Day.  One blood transfusion "took" and she continues to improve. Oct 25 blood work was good. I know we are among the lucky ones but wanted to post something positive. I was so despondent that first couple of weeks and it helped reading that it wasn't always hopeless. Again, my heart goes out to those who lost their fur loved ones and who are facing grave decisions to be made.


Kristee
October 26, 2016

Today on 10/26/16 The world is minus one perfect dog. Beau never complained, was always by my side, especially when preparing a roast or a steak dinner. He knew how to give you that look with those eyes to get everything he wanted, he will be missed, and that awful IMHA took him from us.


CK
October 19, 2016

My male Silky Terrier was stricken with IMHA. He was healthy and happy until Monday morning when he refused food. Concerned but not alarmed, i kept an eye on him for signs of any specific issues. That evening he again refused food and had begun to pass bloody urine. I made an appt with my vet for the next day. blood tests showed extremely low red blood count and IMHA suspected. By midnight, he was stumbling and unable to stand. I rushed him to the emergency clinic but there was nothing they could do. His RBC was too low to survive even a transfusion and they said he would not last the night, so I made the decision to euthanize. Something that upset me is that one of the first things I did was google "bloody urine in male dogs." Not a single site mentioned it being a symptom of IMHA. Obviously, it's a cause for concern but had I suspected it was something so time critical and with such severe outcome, I might have been more diligent in seeking emergency care. I doubt it would have made a difference but it seemed wrong to me that this frightening fatal condition didn't even appear in my search results.


Rachel Adams
October 15, 2016

Yesterday, 10-14-16, I had to put my sweet Phoebe to sleep. She was fine on Friday, then on Saturday she stopped eating and wouldn't get up. I brought her to the vet and her liver enzymes were high and he PCV went from 47% to 21%. They kept her over night and the next morning she was jaundice and wouldn't even lift her head when I went to visit. The vets didn't exactly diagnose her with IMHA because her Lepto tests hadn't come back yet, but I knew it was IMHA. I decided to take away her suffering and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. She was only 4 years old and had so many years left in her. I love you and I'll always remember you.


Sharon Redmann
October 3, 2016

Our dog made it !! Almost 1 year later off all meds. Blood count normal. Fur grown back, a little heavier not as much energy but may be due to age. Chasing squirrel s n barking at our sneezes.       Our cocker spaniel Chewie  was  diagnosed w/IMHA last Oct. Fine one night next morning didn't want his  greenie (big red flag) Seemed somewhat lethargic,gums pale not pink, eyes ever so slightly yellow near rim . immediately took several pictures of Chewie, told husband I had a very bad feeling about this n wanted to get to vet.asap. A few hours later I was told Chew had IMHA. More details to come. Would love to find a way to alert dog owners about the need to act quickly n what to look for. Seems many more could b saved if they had gotten to vet sooner.


Miriam Thompson
September 30, 2016

My 5 yr old Golden Retriever Abby was diagnosed on Sept 13th.  I like the rest of you, have the same story she was fine one day and not eating the next.  I knew something was wrong right away because she's always been a great eater.  We ran multiple test only to find that she has IMHA.  Her RBC was 21% and after many tests they decided to start her on Prednisone and Doxycycline.  She had her first dose of meds on Monday 9/26.  Took her in today for a blood test and she's at 20%.  I'm hoping these meds kick in and her levels start going up.  So far the Vet doesn't think she needs a transfusion but i'm sure that's coming if her levels don't increase.  with the exception of her not eating for a couple of days she has never shown any signs of feeling sick.  She's still happy, plays with her ball, and chases squirrels.  I just can't believe she's this sick and doesn't show any signs.  This disease sucks and I feel like more research needs to be done to determine what causes it.  Does anyone know how long it takes for the meds to start working when they do work?  I've read usually in about a week you will know if it's working or not but that's just what i've read i'm looking for people that have experience in this.  Thanks Praying for all of our babies.


Elise Stupi
September 30, 2016

My 6 ½ year old kitty, Charlotte Grayce, is having IMHA symptoms now. On Sunday and Monday, she seemed a little quiet and not terribly excited about her food, so I kept an eye on her. By Tuesday afternoon, Charlotte stopped eating, spent her time under the bedcovers, and produced a bloody stool outside her litterbox, so I rushed her and the specimen to her vet. In addition to testing both the stool and her blood, the vet noticed bruising and small wounds across her lower abdominal region that looked like the result of trauma. I wasn’t aware of any fall, but to make sure that she wasn’t in pain in case she fell, I agreed to purchase Buprenorphine to alleviate her. Based on the exam, the vet didn’t think that she needed hospitalization, so we went home. Wednesday was no different—Charlotte had no appetite and hid under the covers all day while we waited for the blood and stool test results. Very late that afternoon, the vet called and reported that Charlotte had severe anemia with a PCV reading of 11% and that I should consider an abdominal ultrasound, clotting factor test, and possibly a chest x-ray to find the source of the bleeding. Again, he didn’t mention that Charlotte needed emergency attention, so it was agreed that I would bring her in the next morning. That night, she came out from under the covers and cuddled with me, so I felt comforted that the next morning seemed like a reasonable waiting period. Overnight, she must have been too weak to use her litterbox, so she urinated on the sofa and later got into bed with us for security. Needless to say, when we woke up and discovered what happened, we rushed her to the emergency hospital where she stayed all day yesterday.  Her PCV reading was 14% when she arrived, but the doctor said that the difference between Tuesday’s test showing 11% and yesterday’s might have been due to the instrument sensitivity. Step by step, we attempted to rule out causes by administering an abdominal ultrasound which showed no evidence of a mass or cancer, though it showed a small amount of fluid in her abdominal and chest cavity. This led to a clotting factor test and chest ultrasound (echocardiogram), the latter which revealed moderate hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that puts her at risk of developing congestive heart failure (though she did not appear to be in a heart failure state). The echo also showed the fluid which was believed to be more likely due to bleeding from her low platelet count and elevated clotting time. Her clotting PT value was normal (if abnormal, the vet said it would be a sign of rodenticide), but her PTT value was elevated (which may be a sign of IMHA). At that point, Charlotte got a transfusion followed by steroids to treat for possible IMHA and antibiotics for possible infectious disease. After the transfusion, Charlotte’s PCV was 15%, so not the result we had hoped for or expected. Given the prognosis, we resolved that we would return to the hospital to put her down as we didn’t want to put her through the continued stress of repeated PCV tests and transfusions (not to mention the exorbitant cost which so far has totaled $2,500). However, when we arrived, she seemed alert and attentive and not the cat we dropped off in the morning. Instead, we took Charlotte home together with Prednisolone steroids and Orbifloxacin antibiotics. She got home, immediately used her litterbox to urinate, and then went to her food bowl to eat and drink. She was far from 100%, but she gave us hope that she might be benefitting from the steroids and/or antibiotics. Charlotte slept with us overnight, ate and drank a little for breakfast this morning, but has since returned to being under the covers again. She appears weakened. I hope to coax her to eat, then give her a dose of steroids and later antibiotics, and just observe for the next several hours. The next step might be another PCV test tomorrow (or later today) to check. A couple things that I asked the doctor about were the FeLV vaccine that Charlotte got on September 10th and the adverse reaction (half-dollar sized bald spot which she scratched and is now scabbed) to the Advantage II treatment she got on September 18th. The doctor felt that any FeLV adverse reactions would have happened two weeks ago, and it’s highly unlikely that the Advantage II would cause these types of symptoms.  I’m at a loss and heartbroken. I’m praying for the best. Thank you.


Janssen Lee
September 26, 2016

This is particularly aimed at those dog owners whose dogs survive more than the initial 2 weeks of treatment. (Long but my story is here for those who are interested) My wife's 6 year old maltese terrier named Dian Dian was diagnosed with IMHA on the 14th June. The tell tale signs were all there from the pale gums to a discolored tongue. We brought her in and her PCV was 8. She stayed overnight with our local vet for a blood transfusion. My wife and I cried that night... and a deep feeling of regret and sorrow cloaked over me... all Dian Dian ever wanted to do was play... but I was more often than not 'too tired' or 'too busy' to play with her after work... I just wished I could play with her one last time. Over the next few days it was a battle... rising to 12 then dropping to 11... another blood transfusion to 24... dropping to 18. She stayed there for 5 nights and we visited her every morning and afternoon - making time around work. She held for a bit then dropped to 14 after another 6 days. She held between 13-14 for a week before dropping to 10. Our vet asked us if we would like her to be put to sleep otherwise we could try one last chance at an animal referral hospital for another transfusion with a dog closer to her blood type. She stayed overnight and was given 2 transfusions and her PCV rose to 35. We were told to keep her there until she stabilized. We visted her every day over the course of a week. We were able to finally take her home with a catch - she was on 8 different medications and some of which had to be given up to 3 times a day with specific timings. My wife is truly a champion for keeping up with it all and having the strength to continuously give our dog treatment which was resisted a fair amount by our little princess. We kept bringing her in for checkups at the specialist hospital which were not cheap - $200+ per visit not including medication and not including extensive blood testing which we did every visit. 'Battling the immune system is not for the faint of heart or lean of wallet.' So far we had totalled $10,000 AUD and it was still climbing. I'm currently saving for our first home and wedding ceremony with my wife... we were willing to give it all if it meant it would save our little girl. Through this whole ordeal ever since the beginning Dian Dian had been having episodes of diarrhea, nausea and a lack of appetite, lack of energy... but we kept praying and hoping for the best... Another 4 days later Dian Dian's PCV dropped to 31... and another 5 days later dropped to 26... looking back at it all it really took its toll on all of us... I eventually thought the battle was over when a week or 2 later with the continuing treatment she PCV shot right up to 41. Dian Dian had energy to play again! I played with her every day after work and was grateful for her second chance. My wife continued with the treatment and as time passed her visits to the specialist vet were less frequent and the expensive full blood report were once every 2-3 visits as opposed to being every time. After a few weeks Dian Dian started Dian Dian's stomach continued to grow (it was already large due to all the steroids) and not only that, there was what appeared to be a rash/discoloration on her stomach - another side effect from all the medication. It was potentially going to cause discomfort and our specialist suggested it was time to reduce the amount of medication slowly to 'ween' her off and hopefully over time slowly reduce the medication to the point where it was no longer needed. After we reduced her medication, her PCV within a few days dropped again down to around 35, and then a few days later again to 26. Our vet had to increase her medication again to a level above a lot higher than it was when she first got the disease. Her episodes of lack of appetite, nausea and diarrhea were back, but our little girl is a fighter. Three weeks later... 18th September 2016... around 4pm... I wrote to my closest friends... Diandian was taken away from us this afternoon suddenly around 4pm. Judging by the way she passed, the vet suspects a blood clot occurred in her brain or lung. Maltese are known to be more susceptible to these and given the medication to treat IMHA, it just increases the chances of this happening. I like to think it is a somewhat pleasant thought to know that she was playing fetch with Irene in her final moment. The moment it happened I could hear my mother and my wife screaming, yelling and crying from downstairs... we rushed to the animal hospital and along the way she defecated in the car whilst my wife tried her best to resuscitate our little angel. It takes 25 minutes for us to drive to the specialist hospital and every minute that passed felt like an eternity. They tried their best but there wasn't anything they could do... hearing the news completely broke my wife and my mother. I will never forget hearing the piercing cries, the frightful yelling and sorrowful tears that flowed from us all. We decided we would have her cremated whilst spending our last moments with her in the patient room. My wife did not want to leave her behind so we took her home with us. We wrapped her in a blanket and lay her on a table in our guest room. We turned on the air conditioner to max power as the nurse said it would help with preserving her until the people would come to collect her for cremation. My wife and I spent the night in the guest room from 9pm until 2pm the next day when they came to collect our little girl. As we placed our little angel in the back of the van, I saw a large sheet of blanket covering what appeared to be maybe 10-20 other animals. It was that moment I realised that I was one of many. We are all united through our loss and hopefully united we stay strong. Our total costs lead up to around $15,000 AUD. If she were still alive this number would still be climbing. If you cannot afford this treatment, there is no shame in letting your companion sleep. But to be honest, if I could go back in time, I would do it all again; 3 months more and those extra moments playing with her are priceless. 3 days later we received her ashes. She now rests in my room on my shelf - right next to my bed so that every night she can rest with my wife and I... just like old times.


Nancy Buccigrossi
September 21, 2016

My 2 1/2 yr old cavapoo, Bentley died on 9/19/16 only after he was diagnosed three days earlier with IMHA. Just like all the other stories, he was totally fine the day before, nothing unusual. He woke up on Friday and didn't want to eat or drink, which was definitely not like him. Later in the day he seem not to have energy. I called the doctors office and they said to give it a day that he probably ate something. The following morning was worse. He seemed lethargic, his gums were dry and pale, and he had urinated blood. Since his doctor could not get him an appointment I took him to a nearby hospital who did the preliminary tests and diagnosed him. So our journey began. He started his first of (4) blood transfusions but with each one his red blood count would not hold. By Monday his Bilirubin was 127% (should be .3%). This was causing seizures, jaundice, and neurological issues. My poor baby's fight had ended on Monday. He was the most loving dog that I have ever have. I hope that someone finds a cause/cure for this devastating disease so no one else has to go though this.


TSwartz
September 16, 2016

My 7 1/2 yr old JRT was diagnosed last Friday. She underwent a blood transfusion and is on a steroid and an immunosuppressant.  She has improved remarkably over this week, which gives me some cautious optimism. My heart goes out to those who have not been as lucky(so far) as we. I know we're not out of the woods yet, but I wanted to post something positive


Sherry Lee
September 13, 2016

My cat, Elsa, almost died 12/7/15 and dx is secondary IMHA. She has good days and bad.  Still dont know primary dx. She takes 3ml doxy and 1 ml of pred twice a day.  I was hoping this article would give me insight on doing vaccines for her but I am still confused. Aahhh.


Susan Silverman
September 6, 2016

First I want people to know that research for a DNA test is being done for this disease in English Cockers.  Also another vet is developing a DNA test for AIHA in English Cockers. I lost my 12 year old English Cocker Spaniel last Friday, Sept. 2.  She was fine the evening before.  We went for a nice walk and then she ate her dinner with her usual enthusiasm.  2 hours later I noticed she was lethargic, her gums were pale, and she would't take a treat.  I took her to our vet.  After a CBC and abdominal x-rays he said she most likely has ITP.  She was also slightly anemic.  This was 10 pm.  My vet said for me to call the next day around 10:30.  Instead he called me at 8:30 a.m to tell me that although she made it through the night fine she went into cardiac arrest.  He tried to save her but couldn't.  I miss her so much.


JohnW
August 25, 2016

Our dog Twiggy was diagnosed with IMHA 11 days ago. They gave him steroids as his RBC was 27 which apparently wasn't an emergency. On Monday he collapsed into my wife's arms, so we rushed him to the pet hospital where they held him over night. His RBC had fallen to 12 and his WBC was through the roof. Twiggy's own immune system was attacking every red blood cell as they were being made in his bone marrow. We visited him for an hour everyday, bringing his favorite snacks and toys so he wouldn't miss us too much. He perked up only when we came to see him but were advised against bringing him home. On Friday 19th Aug we arrived hoping to have some better news with his blood test, but unfortunately the RBC had fallen again. Game Over. We brought Twiggy home with us that night and laid him on his favorite blankets with his belongings all around him. He was on a IV drip but from time to time would try to lift up on his front paws to drink some water. We used a syringe and he could lick the water from our fingers. He had two very restful sleeps and in the morning the vet came out and we helped him get to Rainbow Bridge (a lot of his friends would be waiting for him there). We are devastated that it was so quick and there was literally nothing that could be done.


Joy Lainez
August 21, 2016

On April 19th I lost MY Love- Cocoa from IMHA. She was completely fine when we went to bed and when we woke up she was completely out of it.  We went through her regular Vet, a emergency Hospital amd a specialist, no one could help her. We tried 2 blood transfusions, but her red blood cell count would not increase. She was only 9 1/2 years old, she was never sick and seemed fine on saturday and by Tuesday I had to say good bye because nothing was working and the tranfusions led to seizures, heart problems- she was no longer herself and she was in pain. It was one of the toughest days of my life. I cry for her daily and I pray that I did not do anything to cause such a terrible disease. Please find a cure!!


Steven Libhart
August 12, 2016

My beautiful, gentle English Springer Spaniel, Oliver died from this horrible disease on July 14th of this year.  He was fine one day and gravely ill the next.  We were able to get one transfusion in him and then suspect that a PTE got him.  I had never heard of this disease before and am just devastated over the loss of him.  He was my soulmate and buddy.  His father died just two weeks before him and we suspect it was from IMHA as well.  He was diagnosed with tumors on his spleen and I wonder if IMHA kicked his immune system into overdrive to present the tumors.  Losing both dogs with such a short time is so painful and they are both missed.  The only common thing with both dogs was that they had their Heartgard Plus administered to them.  Within a few days they both were sick and gone.  This is so very sad!  Where is research being done to stop this awful disease?  What can we, as lay people, do to help?  Please....our pets don't deserve to suffer from this.


Michelle Bacon
August 3, 2016

My dog Jazzy was diagnosed last week with IMHA she is still not doing the greatest but is still alive. I was wondering what medications have helped the small few  other fur babies out there. We are so sad. I'm amazed she is still with us but they think she may need a transfusion soon. She is a 7 yr old Chocolate lab. We are cont the medication and see how she is in a few days.


Paulette Smith
July 22, 2016

My beautiful Logan cocker spaniel 9 1/2 yrs old. He took I'll only a few days before he passed. Misdiagnosed by our local vet; called Vet College in PEI....come right away...hanging on by a thread...transfusions x2 ...would not accept 2nd on ....home to pass in my arms. My heart is beyond broken...how can the disease be so quick? He was so very brave!


Olivia
July 18, 2016

This article and posts seems to be one of the only things helping me through one of the most difficult times in my life.  On Tuesday, my beloved coonhound stopped eating.  I really didn't think too much of it but figured she should see her vet.  She had been diagnosed and was being treated for Cushings disease for almost a year so I thought her meds needed to be adjusted again or something.  Brought her to the vet in Wednesday and was told her condition was serious.  He suspected IMHA but didn't confirm it and said I needed to take her to the hospital.  I was in shock and it took me a few hours to register what was happening.  I thought my vet was being overly cautious.   Relying on his advice I took her to the hospital Wednesday night.  They said it appeared to be IMHA but didn't confirm for me until the next day.  Regardless by the evenings blood tests results her blood level was at 14.  Thank god I took her in.  The next morning the hospital dr calls and confirms for me that it was in fact IMHA and that she needed a blood transfusion ASAP.  Which we did.  I went to see her that night in the hospital and there was a major decline in 24 hours.  Still not realizing the severity of what was happening I left her there for another night.  At this point she hadn't eaten in 5 days.  Within 30 hours at the hospital I was charged $5500 in dr bills.  I needed them to be straight with me which I felt they weren't doing.  I think they would have kept her for a week even with little response.  The truth was after the blood transfusion her levels didn't go up by more than a few points.  I had to make the worst decision I have made so far in my life - by Friday she had no fight left in her.  Her eyes were yellow, tongue and gums white and my once nervous dog laid there she didn't care or know what was happening anymore but she was ready to go.  At least that's what I'm telling myself.   I had her for 12 plus years since she was 4 weeks old.  She and I had really been through it all.  She was truly my best friend and my heart is shattered.  It happened too quickly, too horribly and she was too young in my eyes.  I am mourning her like and even more than I've mourned for humans.  I don't know how I will ever get over this.


Mark
July 13, 2016

My 9 year old golden retriever mix was nearly dead when diagnosed with IMHA 19 months ago. She had a transfusion and treatment with 3 immune-suppressant medications, producing a very rapid recovery. I have been following the vet's instructions to taper the medicines, now down to almost nothing. Her RBC is a healthy 46%. Fingers crossed this very nasty disorder does not come back.


Gina
July 10, 2016

Our special Silly, a 13 year old sharpei rescue is battling this awful disease.  He is 3 weeks out from diagnosis, had a PVC low of 14, and was almost gone when we got to the ER vet.  So far so good with recovery.  You can follow along on his page if you want.  I am also creating a blog of stuff I am learning along the way.  Lastly, there is a good FB support group which helped us and many others.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/SillykicksIMHAbooty/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/6228146980/


Paulette Smith
July 1, 2016

I just went thru this unbelievable disease....it's so shocking....fast....my cocker spaniel was 9 1/2 ....he was so very brave to the end. I took him in for swollen abdomen uti....big tumor was found...my heart is so broken...less than 24 hrs....2 transfusions ...now I have his ashes. It's a cruel disease.


Shanna Vagts
June 30 2016

One year ago our fur baby was diagnosed with IMHA and Evan's Syndrome. The vet gave her a 50% chance of making it...little did we know that her chances were really in the 7% range. After 9 months in and out of the hospital and clinic, 7 transfusions, many set backs, and more meds than we can count...Emma has made a full recovery. My prayers to everyone going through this. I hope to write a blog about our experience and we hope to start a fund to help others going through this.


Dojah's Mommy
June 30, 2016

I'm so sorry. Its just not fair. :'(


Steve
June 28, 2016

My dog is currently in the hospital battling this horrible disease. He's a fighter but it's taking its toll. All I keep praying is for him to make it back home. My prayers are with those families impacted by this diagnosis.


Karen
June 14, 2016

It has been two days since I had to put my fur baby Bella to sleep due to this horrible disease. On Friday she became lethargic and refused food, I thought she was just feeling a bit off. By Saturday she wouldn't walk and started peeing blood. took her to the vet, they did tests and her blood levels were at 14, we decided on blood transfusions and medication treatment but told only a 50/50 chance. With lots of hope I went home to inform the family. The next morning spoke to vet, they said her bloods had gone up to 20, may even be able to come home that night. Unfortunately, in a very short time her levels dropped again to 12. The vet told me to come down as she was not going to make it. I rushed down to say my goodbyes and and let her go to the rainbow bridge. I am so confused and angry at how fast this happened, I'm at a loss without seeing her beautiful face everyday. I wake in the morning hoping it was a bad dream. My heart goes out to all that gone through this horrible ordeal.


Aya
June 5, 2016

I just had to go through this with my little guy who was French bull dog. He was only 1, and it's an emotional roller coaster. Going through few transfusions and checking their pcv % going up and down. Not knowing what the cause of the illness is. I feel the pain for anyone else who goes through this, it's a serious illness that I wouldn't want any dog to go through.


Pam Page
June 1, 2016

I had an almost 9 year old PWC that was treated for a pretty heavy pseudomonas infection about 3 weeks ago. He took his last Rx dose last Thursday morning and was feeling quite a bit better, but still didn't have all of his energy back. On Thursday night and Friday morning he only ate some of his food and that night and Saturday morning he refused all food and treats. Took him to the vet that morning and PCV was 23%. He was weak, nauseous and stools were breaking down with an orange tint. He was given a big dose of dex, had X-rays and ultrasound done (several times since start of infection) which didn't show any abnormalities except a 'busy' bronchial field. He had had some non productive coughing a few times since the start of the treatment. X-rays on Saturday showed improvement in lung. He was slightly ataxic on Saturday. Was given oral pred, famotidine, Cerenia and a liquid iron supplement. Temperature had returned to normal by late Saturday night. Still didn't want to eat Sunday. On Monday morning, he couldn't raise his head in crate and was having REM and very slow to respond. Vet rechecked his PCV and it was 9%. Rushed him to the emergency clinic where he received one transfusion and by 4:30PM his PCV had come up to 17% where it held steady through 6AM Tuesday morning. He was transferred to his regular vet yesterday morning to stay on fluids and several injectable drugs. Developed off/on labored breathing late that afternoon. Vet did saline test on slide Saturday and yesterday and RBCs were clumping. He ended up having pulmonary thromboembolism and passed away at 5:30PM. This is such a devastating disease for both our pets, who are never with us long enough, and us owners. I'll miss him every day until we meet again.


Cindy LaFreniere
May 12, 2016

My 12-year-old Golden, Charlie was diagnosed May 3. He was anemic, jaundiced and so very weak. He is on prednisone and had one blood recheck on Tuesday. The vet said his levels were,"marginally better," but not as good as he had hoped. In February, during his dental, Iwas called by a substitute vet (my vet was on vacation). He told me that Charlie had a mass in the roof of his mouth, near one of his canines. It was removed and the biopsy came back, "inconclusive." I took his to see the vet on the 3rd because he just wasn't acting like himself. He seemed very confused and was having a hard time controlling his back legs. In addition to the blood tests and chem panels, they also did an x-ray, where they found no evidence of arthritis, which he has been treated for for over a year with 100 my of Rimadyl daily. In December at his 6 month checkup, he weighed 70 pounds. In February at his dental, he weighed 63. I had to ask on May 3 how much he weighed (I could tell he was losing weight) and they said he weighed 57. I would think that a 10% body weight loss over an 8-week period would be fairly significant. So I guess my worry is two-fold. He is still not much improved in his strength or the confusion/depression. He seems like he is struggling just to move around. He ignores our Chihuahua, his best friend (really). He just doesn't seem like he is,"there" any more. I can hardly imagine coming to such a decision easily, Charlie is like my own child. How will I know when it is time and should I seek a second opinion?


Asia
May 7, 2016

I had to put my 10 1/2 year old Rottie to sleep last Tuesday.  It was very devastating for the entire family.  I'm hoping someone can help for I truly do NOT understand what happened.  November 21, 2015, we took her to the Vet for a physical and shots (Rabies, distemper, parvovirus and leptospiros) then she also boarded with them for 4 days.  They were praising how healthy she was at 70 lbs and not to let her gain any weigh because she was PERFECT.  By the way, that was her first ever boarding and she was NEVER sick.  We picked her up and again everyone was praising how good and healthy she was. Then, about Mid-April, she started hacking on and off but never vomited.  I was travelling on and off in April so my family was the one informing me.  April 30th I took her back to Vet that we took her in November for the hacking, eye discharge and she seemed weaker.  Her weight was 67 lbs.  The Vet told me that she had a "mass" on her spleen and that she needs to be evaluated by an oncologist.  I told the doctor thatI will look for a second opinion.  By then, I was in state of shock, it was heartbreaking.  Monday night, my daughter and I took her to another Vet and it was worse.  The doctor immediately stated "this is a sick dog".  She did 5 views xray and it showed the following: a.  Mass near her heart b.  Mass in her spleen c.  Mass in her stomach d.  Weird stuff in her lungs and stomach The doctor did a quick blood check and RBC level was 20 and the norm was 30 to 40.  The doctor told me that even transfusion will only buy her days.  She further stated again that she is a REAL sick dog.  She said spend another night with her and I should really consider putting her to sleep for she will NOT survive any operations.  I took my dog home and that night we watched her sleep, the next day my daughter stayed with her, my husband and I came home earlier and it looked like she will be OK.  However, every time she ate something even a small amount of food, she would hack and hack and then have difficulty breathing.  It was breaking my heart so we decided to put her to sleep.  We did NOT want her to suffer any longer.  Please help me figure out what happened.  Thank you all.  This has been very very hard for the family.


Vickie
May 6, 2016

Our 5 month old standard poodle was just diagnosed with this 2 days ago. She is currently in ICU at the University of Illinois veterinary clinic. She was in shock when we arrived there yesterday and she has had 2 transfusion so far. We are told she is the youngest dog they have seen with IMHA. It is still early in her battle and so far we are $3000 into this. We are just at a loss about what to do.


Kelly
May 5, 2016

My almost 12-year-old Westie  was just diagnosed with this devastating disease on 4/28.  She started with symptoms back on 4/2 but was misdiagnosed initially with what was thought to be a neck injury.  She was treated with dexamethasone injections at the time, which must have halted the disease briefly, but once she came off of that, she was back at the vet's a week later. She's been improving without needing a blood transfusion thankfully and the vet hopes she can come home on Sat.  I was hoping she could beat this thing but the more I read the less optimistic I am.  It seems like a constant uphill battle and will require constant vigilance.  Maybe she'll be one of the lucky ones and be managed on meds.  I can only hope.  My heart goes out to everyone who had or has to travel down this road.


Jerri
May 2, 2016

My heart goes out to all of you, we love our furbabies so much....we are going through the same thing, but thank God, we still have our 8 yr. old Cocker Spaniel, Daisy, with us. I love her more than life itself. She became sick the last of Aug., 2015....a few days later, we were told it was IMHA. She became sick after two things...she had gotten vaccinated for rabies & then killed a snake that was following my hubby...she was just being protective. Right before the rabies shot, I had her titered for the first time...they said her immune system was strong enough to fight an illness off....OMG, it was then that IMHA hit-$8,000 later, several trips to the University of IL Hospital (and being told she had MAYBE 21 days to live, tons of other visits to the hospital here and many vet appointments, she is still here! No one knows much about this...so I have been doing all my own research for 9 months now...trying to supplement her with whatever is the healthiest, buying the best food, making & freezing homemade, protecting her in any way that I can...you name it, she is worth everything to us. She was declared 'EXEMPT' from vaccinations 9 months ago...I went to a vet last week, she walked in with a needle to give Daisy a 'combo vaccination'....AFTER I had said she was EXEMPT...I panicked. I told them she could not have it (I had taken her in with what looked like an infection, or maybe an allergic reaction, on her tummy)...the Vet became angry, plus the tech told me that "if anything happens, don't bring that dog back here!" I just about fell apart...I now have an apt. with another Vet...don't they REALIZE that IMHA dogs cannot have Vaccinations?! She could have killed Daisy. The new Vet said that she could take care of the 'EXEMPT' info., especially as far as rabies goes. The sad thing IS, she owns the vet office that I went to...but I am taking Daisy to her out-of-town office. The last blood test was not good, so she is back on Pred, but small doses. About a month before, her test came out great....they said it "was as good as a dog without IMHA", I was so happy! This is a scary illness, with ups & downs all the time, but I just pray that Daisy will be here for a good long time. I pray for all of you, too....for the ones who have lost their babies & the ones who are fighting this illness now. It can change so fast...I fell apart when I lost my last Cocker (she was 18.....these pets (or to me, family members)are ALWAYS THERE FOR US and we owe them everything. Can we afford all this? Well NO....but with her, we will do anything....pay anything....to have her with us. She's our baby. I'll close now...but my heart and prayers are with all of you....I know the heartbreak of losing a furbaby....and the fear of going through this illness, plus the depression. I just wish you all the best.


Raina
April 30, 2016

So millie was diagnosed about 11 days ago with IMHA. Millie is our 3 yr old American bulldog and she is most definitely our furbaby. Unfortunately when she was diagnosed her pcv levels were at 21% they went up to 23% then the next day down to 21% again. A week later dropped to 16% & are now at 14%.Her platelets are low as well. She's on so any medications including prednisone as well as doxy and ciprofloxacin. She was eating fine and then bam tonight she has zero interest in food and that is NOT like her what so ever she NEVER denys food. She's panting more and the vet says this is due to her high dosage of the prednisone but idk I'm worried


Theresa
April 22, 2016

This has been the worst news of my life.  My poor 6 yr old Golden Lily had been feeling off for about a week and I brought her to the vet for blood work because something just wasn't right.  (keep in mind I just had to put down my buddy JD 2 months ago from intestinal tumors) She was normal on ALL panels run (and I ran ALL AVAILABLE).  Within three days her gums were white and her RBC halved and put her in crisis.  We are literally in the midst of our FOURTH transfusion and meds are increasing with each one and she is not responding.  This is the WORST!  Her spleen in enlarged and there are even spots on her liver that biopsy says is "inconclusive."  Has anyone out there had any success with this disease.  Vets tell me it's manageable; so where are all those positives?  I'm hurting terribly and if this doesn't work.. we have to say goodbye.  Any help?


Michele
April 21, 2016

Hi Raina, I feel your pain with the financial piece of this disease. We are already in  $5700 and it has only been 6 weeks. We are no way near out of the woods. I was going to suggest care credit but I see you mentioned that was not possible. Maybe a co-signer for the card? Some people I know have made go-fund me pages on facebook when they need to reach out for help in emergencies or crisis situations. I feel for you and you baby that is sick.


Michele
April 21, 2016

My story is scarily similar to all the others I have read thus far. Our Emma (Chihuahua/Terrier mix) is 11 years old and usually a very spry little thing. About 6 weeks ago she started with being lethargic and not eating and we too thought that it could be something she ate or another bout of GI upset which she is prone to. We took her in and they treated it as another GI upset and sent us home. A few days went by and she didn't really seem to be improving. By the time my husband got home he checked her gums and they were white. He rushed her to the ER and she was hospitalized. She was then diagnosed with IMHA. Her RBC level was at 23% when she was admitted and they felt at that point she did not need a transfusion seeing she responded so well to the treatment she was receiving. She was discharged the next day at 27% and the doctors were hopeful that it was caught early. She went home on Prednisone, Atopica, and Clopidogrel. She actually seemed to be responding very well to the meds once we were home. She was not her normal self but seemed to be improving. We kept bringing her in every week to check her levels and every week they were dropping. It was finally determined that she would need a transfusion and we went ahead and admitted her for it. When we picked her up after the transfusion her levels were back up to 28% and she was like our old Emma again, barking wagging her tail and being kissy and playful. Within four days she was lethargic and had pale gums. I brought her in again through the ER and her levels were 15%. She was admitted once again and we did transfusion number 2. She just came home to us yesterday and still things don't seem right. Her gums are nice and pink, she is eating, doing all her toilet business perfectly but still seems really lethargic. We are due to go back in this Saturday to have her levels checked again. I am hopeful but after reading all the posts I am scared and feel defeated. I am not giving up on her but I am scared to death there is going to come a time to make a decision that I can't bare to make. I feel for anyone who is going through this or has been through it and lost their baby. My heart goes out to all of you.


Phyllis DeGioia
April 21, 2016

Raina, We're sorry to learn of your situation. Here's a list of organizations that offer money either for a certain condition, specific region, ER, or other types of bills. http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=3549 Call such places as your local shelter and other veterinary clinics to see if they know of any group that offers financial assistance. We wish you luck!


Raina
April 21, 2016

Hi my name is Raina my boyfriend and I have a very sick American bulldog who was just diagnosed with IMHA. she may need a blood transfusion and we already spent 1k just to save her life after her episode... we are so low on money and we feel so helpless all we wanna do is make her healthy again this is so hard. we were declined for care credit and now she needs blood work done several times a week to determine if shell need a transfusion. can anybody help us? Any information u can give to help us find some way of income help?


Theresa
April 13, 2016

We lost our 7 year old German Shepherd mix, Snickers, last night. He was fine on Sunday, only ate half his breakfast on Monday, threw up Monday evening, and had bloody urine Tuesday. I took him to the vet Tuesday afternoon, where they did blood work and gave him a 50/50 chance if he had a blood transfusion. I wasn't sure what to do, because I was expecting something like a bladder or kidney infection. They gave him some fluids and prednisone, and I took him home to talk to the family and give Snickers lots of loving. I was supposed to go back to the vet today, but Snickers seemed so uncomfortable last night that we went to the ER vet. We had to make the horrible decision to put him down, but after reading this, I know we made the right decision. It happened so fast and was so unexpected. We will miss him. I'm sorry for all of your losses and wish everyone seeking treatment the best of luck.


Sacha
April 10, 2016

Today we lost our precious Rocky boy to this horrific disease.  My heart hurts more than words can explain.  This disease hit my little man twice and the second time it ended his life.  I hurt for all other dogs that get this disease.  I'm going to really look into more about this and raise more awareness.  Too many of our furry friends are being taken from us too soon.  He was fine last weekend and it hit him Friday and we buried him sunday. Its too much.  Rocky boy momma loves you dearly. #betheirvoice


Michael
April 8, 2016

I just lost my beloved Chloe, a strong and fierce 12 YO Dalmatian to this disease. The story is similar to many others here, a happy and healthy dog last Sunday, and then stumbling and lethargic on Monday. She spent the last two days at the vet, and we rushed her to the vet hospital this afternoon. When presented with the options and the odds, we had only one decision due to her age and advanced state of decline. I had never heard of the disease before today.


KC
April 6, 2016

My 10 year old viszla, was perfectly fine on Sunday, and by Weds was fighting for his life. 5k into it, one blood transfusion, and his blood at17 before transfusion. We took him home last night, he wouldn't eat anything at the vet hospital thurs-tues, we got him home and he definitely perked up, and ate chicken and white rice. Took him back this morning for blood work his RBC went from 19 up to 21. The vet was encouraged, now we can only hope there isn't a relapse. after reading every single post, im not optimistic,, but will try to remain hopeful. Thank you to all who shared their story....as hard as these are to read, it helps someone like me just learning about this to have a sense of reality about what to expect. Thanks again


Karen
March 30, 2016

I lost my baby boy Chico on February 9 due to complications of IMHA which was determined to be due to a vaccination- it was a 10 month battle he fought with all he had. He developed steroid induced diabetes and I gave him insulin injections twice a day. We had 5 transfusions, his spleen was removed and just when things were looking up he developed severe pancreatitis- it broke my heart. He came home this last time for a week with me and then in less than 12 hours something changed and I knew he was wasn't going to turn that corner, it was too much. My heart is broken as I cared for him 24/7 for the 10 months. He was my baby. IMHA are 4 letters I wish we'd never heard. We had the best vets who did everything they could do. They are right when they say it isn't for the faint of heart. It's a roller coaster ride that can change on a dime. If your baby has IMHA love them with all you have, the odds aren't good and they deserve all the love and care you can give them.


Liz
March 16, 2016

My 3 year old Pomeranian struggled with IMHA for four months.  She had a transfusion in August 2015, and was on many meds listed here. She did well until she relapsed in January 2016.  Her platelet count plummeted and another transfusion was advised.  Instead of putting her (and us) through the stress and expense again, we let her go.  It was one of the saddest things I've ever experienced.  There is a site, http://www.secondchanceaihadogs.com/, that I highly recommend for support and advice if you are dealing with IMHA and your dog.   Blessings to you all, IMHA is horrible and devastating.


Angie
March 2, 2016

My precious Hobbs died last Sat he was 2 years 9 mo. He was fine all day on Tuesday then when we got up to go to bed he stumbled and was disoriented and ran into the wall. He has never done that. By the next morn he was hot and peeing blood my husband got him to the vet. They had no idea at first but gave him steriods and meds. He perked up had a good afternoon acted like himself. By the next morn I knew it was bad. He started throwing up around 11 am couldn't walk peed blood. We took him to the ER and his red blood cells were at 7 after a transfusion he jumped to 24. But he dropped back to 16 the next day and after a 2nd transfusion he was only at 16 again. He passed way after 4 day battle it was fast and there is nothing we could have done. It's heartbreaking we miss him so much, sweet Baby Hobbs.


Maddy
February 27, 2016

On the 19th jan my dog Ajax didn't seem himself ,his gums were almost white ,so off to the vet we went and he was admitted into hospital ,blood tests found he had IMHA,we thought he had been bitten by a snake as the symptoms were similar ,so  they gave him anti venmom and a blood transfusion ,he picked up ,his PCV was 20 by the following week it was back to 25 so they let him come home he has to have his Pcv checked twice a week and it has been good until last Sunday he started showing signs of no energy again back to the vet for a full blood work they found his white blood cell count high at 27 should be about 17 so he is on about 5 different drugs and he definitely isn't the same dog he gets very tired,I am hoping he can recover fully ,I just have to take each day as it comes he is only six and has never been sick until this


Emma
February 26, 2016

Caylee my corgi was diagnosed with IMHA earlier this afternoon. My mom brought her in because she had not been eating and hardly moved anymore. When she was outside she would just sit, which was unlike her crazy active self. My mom brought a sample of her poop, which had blood in it and the vet told us her diagnosis. Her RBC was super low. We talked on and on about treatment options. Everything was so expensive. It is unreal how fast this disease course is and if only love was enough. She had to be on oxygen during these last few hours and was severely struggling to breathe. The vet said she would not likely make it through the night and because she was struggling so hard we decided to put her down. She was my sweet little girl and I will forever miss her. IMHA is horrible and I grieve for all of the doggie lives lost because of it.


Jane
February 13, 2016

I lost my 2 year old great dane, Mae, over a decade ago, one night without other symptoms she became gravely ill, she began bleeding from every orafice in her body, I speed her to the vet hospital she died apon arival within an hour. Her autopsy revealed she had no platelets in her body, but it didn't list a cause or a name for the condition. I think it must have been this condition. I suspected this condition came from her flea and tick oil I had recently put on her neck.  I will miss her forever.


Kristy E.
February 12, 2016

Brandy, our nine year old Shih Tzu was diagnosed with IMHA.  On Friday she was listless,  her urine was brown and her stools were orange.  I took her to the vet. The vet stated her gums were pale. Blood work was done. Saturday morning the vet called and stated her bloodwork results were critical. We immediately took her to a 24 hour emergency vet. Her RBC was 13 so we decided to go ahead with a blood transfusion and IV cortisone therapy. Sunday her RBC was up to 30.  Monday her RBC was 24 and Tuesday her RBC was down to 13.  We decided not to put her through another transfusion and bring her home and hold her.  She only lived a few hours after we brought her home but we had her with us when she passed.  We then began regretting that we didn't try another transfusion  but after reading the comments listed on this site (the side effects etc) we take comfort in our decision.  We miss our little Brandy but feel fortunate we had nine wonderful years with her.


Heather
February 12, 2016

Thank you for writing this article. I lost my furry baby girl Rory, a shih tzu at the not too old age of 9 to this disease back in November and it was and still is heart wrenching. She was diagnosed in April, didn't even need a transfusion, did well on her meds(pred and cyclosporine), then at the end of October, the pale gums and lethargy came back, and new thing, enlarged liver from the pred, within 2 weeks, she was gone. I'm still not over it, I didn't think it would happen to us since she survived the diagnosis very well, I didn't think we would lose her in the relapse, I thought we could ride it out with her meds, but she just got worse and worse until her kidneys started to fail and her skin turned yellow :(. God help those of us that have to handle this disease, it's not for the faint of heart.


Roberta R
February 8, 2016

We too are devastated. Yesterday at 4:40 pm we had to euthanize our 7 year old Lab X Moira due to IMHA. She was my husband's best friend they were inseparable and spent every hour of every day together.  She was great on Sunday Jan 31 and went for a two hour walk. On Tuesday she was a little slower than normal so we though she might not be feeling well, perhaps having eaten something she shouldn't have. By Wednesday morning she didn't want to get out of bed or eat. We knew then something was terribly wrong.  We got her to the vet's where she was put on fluids and medication and diagnosed with IMHA.  Her count was 18, by the afternoon she was down to 16 and transferred to the overnight emergency clinic. The next morning her count was down to 14 so she was transferred to a specialty clinic.  That evening (thurs feb 4) she had her first transfusion and her count went up to 20 and held there for several hours, by friday night the she was down to 19.5.  By Saturday she was back down to 14 and so had the second transfusion.  Her numbers popped up to 16 but quickly fell back to 14.  She was so lethargic with shallow and rapid breathing and a racing heartbeat. We stayed with her all day and around 4pm she began to slip away.  Ten years ago I had a Lab X Luke who passed away at 6 with the same disease only he passed within 24 hours from diagnosis.  This is such a monstrous condition, and the most frustrating thing is not knowing the cause.


Angela D.
February 6, 2016

Hello: My dog Dixie Darlin' was diagnosed with IMHA last Saturday 1/30. She was completely fine a day before but I noticed that something was wrong with her late that night. She wasn't herself when I got home that night, no excitement, no kisses, no happy barks. I took her out but she wasn't walking as much and was at behind me. I kept an eye on her all night but next morning, she couldn't get out of the bed to go pee so I called my vet and drove her around 8 am. The office looked busy when we got there, I explained her symptoms and she was taken to the back, they said they were going to call me but when 3:30 hit, I called them. The hubby and I got there at 4ish and even though IMHA was never mentioned, she had to be transferred to the doggy emergency right away.  So Dixie was diagnosed with IMHA and her PCV was 21%, the vet said that we caught it early. So after 6 transfusions and lots of strong medication, the vet decided to discharge her last Thursday 2/4. we were giving medication to continue treatment are home, that night we watched her like a hawk. I think she was really happy to be back home, we made her some kidney shakes (forgot to mention that she didn't eat at all while staying in the ICU) mixed with her pills and waited for the next morning to check her PCV. Her lab results were at 28%, it has been more than 24hrs since last transfusion, vet was so excited but we were not out of the woods yet. Today 2/6, she is still with us, we had  her PCV check again and it is at 37%, not sure if I should be happy because I am so afraid it will drop again. I honestly though she was not going to make it but she proved me wrong. Anyone else got to the end and though it was over? Thanks!


Marie
February 4, 2016

We are devastated. Our precious GSD boy Zhivago passed away on the 1st of February. He was feeling like his normal self on Sunday, didn't want to eat though. On Monday morning he went outside to do his morning business, but didn't want to come back inside. He just laid by the garage. My husband recognized that this is not normal behavior & told me he is taking Zhivago to the vet. Two hours later he called and said "Our boy just died". I couldn't believe it! I blame myself for not noticing something earlier! We had no idea such horrible disease IMHA can come so quick and take a life so fast! Please check your dog's gums often. Even if your furry friend is a little bit "off", go see a vet! We are gonna miss our big boy forever... RIP Zhivago. I love you.


Brian
February 2, 2016

My heart goes out to everyone who has dealt, or is dealing, with this disease. My story is similar to most - my dog was feeling great last Monday, and on Tuesday stopped eating and was very lethargic. Unfortunately, I assumed it was a virus or something and waited for it to pass. Thursday, I was concerned enough to take her to our vet who diagnosed her with IMHA. We went to a 24 hour critical care animal hospital and she had her first transfusion on Thursday evening, and another Friday evening as her red blood cell count went up and then back down. After the second transfusion, her number was holding at 22 (it was 14 when she was admitted) so they released her to me. Sunday and yesterday she was very tired and didn't want to eat her regular food but would eat some deli meat slices I bought for her, which I just assumed was normal for a couple of days after all of this stress. Today I was concerned enough to take her back, because she had no interest in eating anything. Her count is back down to 17 so they are going to give her a 3rd transfusion. It has been a hellish roller coaster ride the last 6 days and I'm terrified we are far from out of the woods. I'm sending good vibes to all who are going through this same process, or who have lost their beloved pet to this.


Tamara
January 31, 2016

Btw way, my vet said that a transfusion wasn't always helpful as sometime it actually can make the patient worse. I think he said that it could cause haemorrhaging. It may be worth asking so that you are aware of how this treatment may affect your beloved dog. Unfortunately nothing is guaranteed to work. But it is hard not to try.


Tamara
January 31, 2016

We lost our beautiful playful mini schnauzer Roxy a few days ago. She had just turned 9. She was perfect one day and the next was diagnosed with IMHA. We don't know what set her poor body against itself. Her RBC was at 1.6 and her white cells very high (over 35). Her breathing was so laboured that we could not bear to see her suffer any more. We brought her home and had lots of cuddles and then in the morning we carried her to the beach for one last smell as that was her favourite place to run. She no longer had any energy to stand let alone run but I think I saw her smile one last time before we decided it was time to say good bye. Our hearts will ache for a long time but hopefully the memories of the joy she brought to our family will help as time goes by. I feel for all of the families dealing with IMHA it is a dastardly disease.


Mike
January 25, 2016

I think this is what our 6 year old female miniature schnauzer had.  She was perfect one day and lethargic the next and we took her to the vet as we were about to leave for the holidays and I received the call from my wife to come there right away we had to make a decision.  The count was very low and in addition to some x-rays they did some type of blood test in which the blood didnt react right I think it was which the vet said was yet another identifier.  He said we had the choice of vet hospital, transfusions, and a lifetime of shots similar to organ transplants and then it was a 50/50 that her body could reject the transfusion.  Then said even if it worked it could happen again and would all be very costly.  He felt she had about a 20% chance.  He said the cause was unknown but could be environmental that caused it to begin.  He even said some animals react where there is livestock around and they drink from the water.  My question is when the time comes down the road we want another schnauzer but the comment about livestock concerned me because we live near animals adjacent to our yard.  Is this something that is random among all breeds?  Has anyone heard of the livestock connection?  He was of course just throwing out ideas and said it could have been anything in the environment.


Christine
January 25, 2016

My rescue Max who is approx 10 yrs old  is going through his 3rd relapse with IMHA.  He first developed this dreadful disease 3.5 years ago.  He was in the hospital for a couple of weeks, had two blood transfusions and was on the usual meds (azathioprene, cyclosporine and prednisone).  His red blood cell count at one point went down to 15.  He developed pancreatitis at this time as well.  He was able to be weaned off off all medication and then relapsed 6 months later.  He went through the usual treatment and went into remission again.  He remained on 25mg of cyclosporine 2x day for life.  This past July he relapsed again.  As a result of that relapse, he was hospitalized again, went through the usual treatment and went into remission again.  He remained on 25mg cyclosporine 2x day and 5mg prednisone 2x week.  He relapsed again this past Fri.  He red blood cell count was up yesterday from the day before and today is lower than it was when he was first hospitalized (35 today).  We're devastated.  We love our little guy and want only the best for him but this is gut wrenching. We will continue to fight for him knowing he may lose the battle.   It's in God's hands and we have no control over the ending of this tragic story.


Kimberlee Bryant
January 19, 2016

I wanted to write a post in honor of my Bella, an IMHA survivor, while this is an extremely complicated disease with heartbreak at every turn, there is hope.  Yes the mortality rate is extremely high, but some dogs do make it.  Some cases are worse than others and many dogs will not see life past the initial two weeks of diagnosis. It is expensive and the cost truly depends on the ability to have the financial means to wage a war on this dreaded disease.  It also requires much diligence on behalf of the pet owner to care for the IMHA patient.  I will never regret giving Bella the chance.  We were extremely fortunate that her case was not as critical as some have experienced, nonetheless, it was gut-wrenching. It took a lot of time for her to return to her "normal" even after remission.  Finally, 3 years later, and we are still okay, but ever mindful of the emotional scars this disease has left on our hearts.  The constant fear of relapse is always there no matter how great things are going.  I truly believe that Bella's case was driven by vaccinations or Trifexis.  It is beyond difficult to find the underlying cause of this monster. I learned a lot during this fight and encourage you to seek help by joining the IMHA page on FB.  There is loads of support and advice on that forum.  I truly learned things from others that my Vet was not even aware of!  Please feel in inbox me on FB if you have any questions. Kimberlee Bryant.  I remember just craving some sort of hope when we were going through this horrible nightmare.  FYI...I'm not sure about the month of December as noted previously as being suspicious, this disease is coming out of the closet in a big way.  Summer/Spring is the most prevalent time for diagnosis as some allergens (i.e. bee stings) could be a possible culprit as well.  Many blessings to all of you fighting this!


Kathryn
January 10, 2016

Back in the mid 70's ( honestly now I don't remember the exact date )I lost a Champion male Samoyed to IMHA - within about a week after his (then) annual Vaccinations.  I will always believe that the series + the rabies was just too much for his aging ( he was 12 )body. He was gone in just a few days. Thank goodness vacs are no longer required on a yearly basis - plus so much more has been learned about 'over-vaccinating' that we knew back in the 60-70's. 


Tracey
January 9, 2016

We were told on Thursday evening the our Molly has IMHA. She has a blood count of 25.  She has been given 25mg prednidale twice daily. We have been told to make an appointment in a month. Is this the right course of treatment ??? After googling lots of information I'm beginning to wonder.  The vet said this is not curable but it is manageable but is our treatment the right treatment ?


Kelley
January 6, 2016

So glad i came across this article tonight because my 10 year old healthy pit bull, Boston, is at the emergency vet with this right now. Much like the other people said about their dogs, he was fine then he wasn't.  Tuesday he started getting lethargic, wouldn't eat all his dinner, today he had bloody urine, was jaundiced and had little energy. His red blood count was 29% at the regular vet and emergency vet just called to say it's dropped to 26%. I'm praying he holds on till I get back to the vet about 8am. I don't understand how he went downhill so fast. He's my bully ambassador and is the best dog, can't imagine losing him at 10 years old. My heart is broken.


Cheryl Heuman
January 3, 2016

My female doberman came down with this in Feb. 2015. After 7 days in emergency she came home with meds of prednisone 75mg Cyclosporine 200mg and blood thinners 75mg. Its been almost a year and she is only on the cyclosporine 50mg. The vet wants to take her off that soon. Does anyone have experience with relapses. After a year with nothing should I be worried about the ceasing of all medications. Did anyone's vet say to keep your dog on something like prednisone or cyclosporine for the rest of their dogs life.


Joy
January 2, 2016

Odd to see so many instances of IMHA from December.  Our Cocker is currently hospitalized for this.  He was literally fine one day and down, struggling to breathe the next. It really is very helpful to have read this article as we are facing several decisions.  All the tests will be back Monday to tell us whether it is, for sure, IMHA or possibly something else. But based on what the vet is seeing - that's their best guess. You think you can keep them loved, and safe.  Do all you can to make sure they are eating healthy food, vaccinate (or not - depending on your stance) and then something like this comes out of nowhere.  We are heart broken. If the test results confirm IMHA we will need to put him down. So thank you for writing this so that we have a realistic expectation of prognosis.


TJ
December 30, 2015

Read many of the stories below and certainly have been through many/if not all of them as well. Our boxer came down with IMHA last January, after first noticing significant lethargy and yellowish urine.  For what it’s worth, he ended up needing 3 days in ICU/internal medicine hospital, 1 blood transfusion and then the now typical triple dose of immunosuppressive drugs.  Did extremely well few days later and was acting pretty much like his normal self.  We were thrilled and felt like we hit the lottery.  Then the chain reaction of issues and drug side-effects started.  1st it was the azathioprine (pancreatitis), then the cyclosporine (large skin, mouth sores started opening up al over).  Finally got our boy off those, until about 3 months ago, when a relapse occurred.  This time platelets crashed, so back on the three drugs again, then back through the side effects and weekly testing, finally leaving him on just pred.  Then about 1 month ago, several different/new health issues started up, starting with painful back/neck pain (to the point he couldn't bend down to bowl), chronic lethargy, ending with a very swollen back leg that has recently caused the partially healed sores to break back open.  It has been a constant steam of vet bills, pain pills and additional pharmaceuticals to try and deal with new issues and side effects.  It has been almost a year since our initial IMHA diagnosis and I’m heart-broken to say, today is Blue’s last day.  I share this long story with you not to dissuade you from trying to save your dog/friend from this terrible disease but to hopefully give you a perspective on what it may be like living with and treating the disease in the months/years ahead.  I’ve struggled with the thought of throwing in the towel and thinking we/he might be able to pull through yet again but when I think back through the year of IMHA, I’m not sure I’d do it all over again.   Blue is within days of being 10 years old and I truly believe he had the best first 9 years a dog could ever have.  Prayers to you and yours.


Michelle
December 24, 2015

So much sadness, but I can relate.  We lost our precious Tori on 12/20/15.  She fought IMHA for 3 days, she had 4 blood transfusions.  We had to let her go, I couldn't put her through anymore, she had taken a turn and wasn't responding.  We are devastated. How can a 3 yr old healthy dog decline so fast??  I can't wrap my mind around it.


Jenn8
December 21, 2015

This disease is horrible. I was put in the same situation as all of you a month ago. Lucy was hospitalized at OSU for 8 days and had two transfusions to buy her time for the meds to work. Like all of you, I was so caught off guard and could not make the decision to put her down bc I had never even heard of this,  and she had been FINE three days before! So far we have been successful with the treatments. She has been home for 3 weeks, we have taken her off most meds, with the exception of prednizone, Mycophenolate,  and one stomach protectant and a med to reduce chance of blood clots.  We are on the verge of reducing her prednisone,  which makes me nervous. For two weeks she has gotten a very hearty appetite, thank goodness, but she needs Lots of water so she pees OFTEN. It has been extremely expensive, but we are considered "out of the woods" at this point. Praying for no relapses


Jack
December 19, 2015

Saying a dog diagnosed with imha's chance of survival is "50/50 at best" maybe a realistic probability of it's living or dying in the next few days or weeks .... IF your pet is not that far gone (HCT of 25 or better), immediate steroid treatment is started, this is the initial onset of imha (as compared to a relapse), and it don't rain. This is based on my personal experience and also studying imha generally.  You can read some professional studies like this one at www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pubmed/15934255 which states that the results of 7 studies combined reflect that after the initial onset of imha the probability of living long enough to get out of the hospital is 57% but surviving for 1 year later is only 34%. That appears to be just for dogs hospitalized.  Considering that 34% statistic along with the fact that many dogs with imha never even go to a vet to become a statistic and many more never get sent to the hospital at all (many get put down or go home and die untreated), you can see that my conclusion that saying "50/50 at best" is really OVERLY OPTIMISTIC is a very reasonable conclusion. I just put my 8 yr old female cocker spanial to sleep this week after she experienced an acute imha relapse (her "HCT" test result was only 14, "RBC" test result was only 1.8, and she could barely wobble a few steps before running out of energy to stand up, the "HCT" results should be in the range of 36-55 and the "RBC" results should be in the range of 4.5 to 7.5). That HCT count is probably the same thing many people here quote as being told by their vets is what they are calling the "red blood cell count" or the "RBC" (there is in fact a DIFFERENT COUNT called the "RBC" which measures a different element of the bloods condition and that "RBC" count should be in the 4.5 to 7.5 range so when people talk about RBC counts in the 14 - 30+ range in the post here they must REALLY talking about the "HCT" reading NOT the red blood cell count or "RBC").  I guess many vets just quote the "HCT" result and call it the Red Blood Cell count and do not explain those technical details to their depressed customers. My dog was given the antibiotic "CIPROFLOXACIN" (which i later learned has a well KNOWN but very RARE side effect potential of causing the onset of imha) to treat an ear infection, TWO DAYS later she was laying around hardly able to walk so I took her back to the vet and then she got a blood test that showed her "HCT " reading of 28 which combined with the test results showing positive auto agglutination, spherocytes, and platelet clumping constituted a certain positive confirmation of imha.  I got a second OUTSIDE lab test to confirm the blood test done at the vets office, and I also got a second vet opinion on the treatment program (although i started the prednisone treatment immediately since i happened to know that drug was relatively safe compared to some of the cancer drugs used to compliment it).
since her initial onset was caught VERY EARLY (before the HCT result was down to 14-18 range which probably requires a blood transfusion to avoid immeninent death) Her treatment started with 10mg of prednisone twice a day and minimize activities.  After a few weeks she was able to at least walk outside to go to the bathroom without my holding my breath to se if she needed my help to carry her back in.  After about a month and a half she was moving around pretty well, i WON't say back to normal but I WAS CHEERFUL and she was a LOT better ... and that went on until 3 and 1/2 months when in the process of reducing the dosage of prednisone (we had reduced it down to 5mg one each every other day) she had her relapse, and i had her put to sleep.  The relapse came on literally overnight, she was acting pretty normal at bedtime and the next morning she could not walk out to go to the bathroom, so i took her immediately for a blood test that confirmed the relapse and that it was MUCH WORSE than it ever was the first time. My vet said it is common for relapses to be more accute and harder to treat than the original attack, i can confirm my dog's relapse was much more accute than her original attack but since i did not try to treat it i can not confirm if it would have been harder to treat or not. FYI ... after this relapse ... i did learn that "dark colored or orangish" urine (particularly if your dog uses a paper you might notice this) ... MIGHT BE an EARLY sign that imha is setting in  ... maybe an EARLIER clue if you are watching for a relapse than waiting for her to FALL DOWN or for her GUMS to turn white .... my dogs gums that morning of her relapse were NOT THAT WHITE ... maybe they were slightly pale or slightly less pink than normal ... but certainly not white ... and yet she could barely walk a few steps before stumbling to the floor. Here is the REALLY BAD NEWS ... i just gave her her monthly HEARTGUARD pill TWO DAYS BEFORE i had to put her to sleep.  It is MY OPINION that the HEARTGUARD PILL sparked HER RELAPSE.  I did NOT give her the annual dhpp shot which coincidentally came up for renewal while she was recovering since i read that dogs dont need those anyway (they really only need the DHPP shot once each SEVEN YEARS - it seems the vets just like to sell more shots than the dogs need) ... but i have actually had a dog die from HEARTWORMS here in texas so i did NOT quit giving her the heartworm medication because if you dont do the heartworm meds the dog will FOR SURE get heartworms if you live down south, it is just a question of WHEN will they get them.  So, you can NOT stop that and if I am right that the heartguard pill (which is the best widely used pill for heartworms) caused her relapse ... then the whole effort of trying to "save them" from the imha is an effort of FUTILITY. I prayed that my dog would get over it and never have a relapse, and i did what i could to try and make that happen, but she relapsed anyway. By the time she had that relapse, I had already concluded that i would not put her through the trauma of hospital treatment.  I would treat her at home as much as I could and if that did not save her then I would end her suffering. My conclusion now is that the overwhelming probability seems to be that even if your dog comes home from the hospital eventually SOMETHING will spark another relapse, so the whole idea of "beating imha" is just an illusion and the only real question is how much misery are you willing to put your dog through in order to postpone what seems to be the inevitable. I surely loved my dog as much as any human can love an animal, but after studying the options and probabilities i determined the most HUMANE thing for me to do was to put my dog out of her misery and not put her through some more misery when the probability was MOST LIKELY that if she did not die soon she would have ANNOTHER RELAPSE at some point in the future and die then, of course AFTER she suffered a lot of misery beating it now and trying to beat the relapse too in the future until she finally died from one.  I concluded that the trauma of being strapped to a bed in a strange place with strange people poking you with needles and hooking you up to various tubes to give you blood transfusions and intravaneous drugs for one to 8 days when the likelehood is VERY HIGH that the dog will die if not soon then later on maybe even after they got to experience this same hospital nightmare a second or third time after they had one or more relapse.  I had TWO VETS and neither of them explained to me the really grim picture imha presents, but after studying the options and probabilities i determined the most HUMANE thing to do was to put my dog out of it's misery. Being HUMANE to your pet does not mean you should feel guilty, although i in fact did, as each of you will also, but you just have to get over it because it does seem to be the best decision. Finally let me say YES, the reports are that there are some pets which do survive and i have read many hundreds of post at sites like this one and i can tell you that one thing i noticed about them was many if not most are still taking medications several years later (medications which themselves can have serious health risk and/or sideeffects) and like in my case if you try to step them down to wean them off those medications they often have a relapse which my vet said was even harder to arrest.  I have not read a lot of postings about dogs surviving and also having a normal "quality of life".  Also, for those precious few that do seem to survive with a god quality of life there is still that VERY REAL risk that some medication WHICH THEY NEED (like heartworm medication) could one day spark a relapse so even then there is a dark cloud over you and your pet each day. My point of writing this post is not to discourage someone who wants to try and save their pet, if that is your circumstance I PRAY TO GOD YOU HAVE "UNCOMMON" GOOD LUCK, seriously. What i do hope to accomplish by making this post is to help anyone laboring under the MISCONCEPTION that their dog with imha has a "GOOD CHANCE" of surviving ... to realize that the definition of "surviving" may not be what you would like it to be, and the probabilities even for that is most likely NOT GOOD. CERTAINLY less than "50/50" and maybe a LOT LESS. Also, for those who have not had time to research imha much to give you some basic information to help you make an informed decision which you can live with. God bless each of you and your pet, if you are reading this you and your pet both need it.


Ann G.
December 16, 2015

Our beloved little Jack Russell rescue dog was diagnosed with this dreaded disease only yesterday. She's had a transfusion and the vet is cautiously optimistic but still said that her chances are, at best, 50-50. Like other people have posted on this site, one day your sweet, playful pet is full of energy and the next is lethargic, with no appetite, unable to even stand up. My poor little girl. Our hearts bleed for her.


Missy
December 16, 2015

We lost our sweet Toby to this on Sunday, 12/13. Eight days after diagnosis we made the difficult decision to let him go.  He was 8 years old and we are heartbroken.


Lynnel
December 14, 2015

Our 3 year old English Bulldog has been diagnosed of both IMHA and IMTP last Dec 2. It happened so quickly! He just refused to eat on Wed night and my partner took him to the vet. He stayed there for 5 days where he received a blood transfusion and a bunch load of medication - prednisone, cyclosporine and azathiorpine. His liver wasn't coping up well and he had jaundice as well and was given liver medications and antibiotics. He went home but after two days he was being lethargic and had an eye ulcer. He was discharged and came home with us for another two days where his RBC was at 25 and Platelet holding at 17. I bought Bioprepration with so much hope as I have read so many testimonials about IMHA recovery. Two days later he went back to the hospital. The doctor said he relapsed again and his RBC is down to 12. We either can give him blood transfusion which can buy him time or let it go. He can't walk anymore and it breaks my heart to see him. A part of me does not want to give this battle up but a part of me does not want to see him go through this and suffer. Really don't know what to do.


Christy
December 13, 2015

My 8 month old Auusie Shepherd, Buddy is going through this right now. I brought him to the vet on Wednesday and was sent from there to Emergency.  He had a transfusion on Thursday morning and came home Friday night. On Saturday, he wasn't himself but seemed a lot better than before. I was hopeful. Today, Sunday, he is sleepy and lethargic. The vet put him on more aggressive pills this morning but warned me that if his cell count drops over night, I will need to give him another transfusion. I am already $2500 in the hole. I am a single mom and cannot afford this - it's all on credit. I just don't have the heart to let him go without a fight. I will try one more transfusion and if that doesn't work, I will have to say goodbye. It breaks my heart.


Jose
December 11, 2015

First of all I want to extend my sympathies to everyone that has lost their beloved pets to this dreadful thing IMHA, our precious boy Stitch got a little sick 2 weeks ago, I took him to the Vet this past Thursday the 3rd and after a blood test the Vet told me the his count was at 7 and that he needed a blood transfusion and even with one he would not make it, so it was recommended that we put him to sleep, I was devastated and deeply confused but refused to do it, so I asked if something could be given to him so he got some supplements and I took him home, I could not bring myself to put him down, so on Monday at my job I happen to service a Vet from another country and I told him about Stitch and he said for us to get a second opinion, by Wednesday he's gotten so bad that we all painfully concluded that he needed to be put down to end the suffering, I cried so much with my girls, on Thursday I called the hospital (a different place than the one I took him) as I drove I could barely keep myself together along with my daughter, It was a difficult drive, we made it and the Vet there asked to see his results and he said that he may have a chance to live with IMHA, again I could not bring myself to put him down so we decided to give him a blood transfusion, his blood count is up to 33.5 and the prognosis for him is very  good! We're so happy but also scared as he's not out of the woods yet! He might come home tomorrow Sat the 12th! I know he's facing an uphill battle but I hope that with our love and care he gets to live a long life.


Dianne
December 8, 2015

We lost our sweet baby Trinity at just 2 years old. 12-6-15. She was a beautiful English Springer. She had a distemper booster just 3 weeks prior to getting this horrible disease! 12-5-15 she was her normal happy self, eating, drinking and playing with her buddies our other 1 yr springer and 3 yr   old Lab, until mid afternoon when she wouldn't get up and wouldn't eat. I thought she might if just been feeling under the weather, never expecting to wake up on the 6 to find her eyes rolling back in her head. Took her to Emergency Vet only to hear those horrible words IMHA. Our world stopped when the Vet said she was to far gone for treatment, we made the decision to lay her down instead of her struggle until the end. We weren't told that the booster could have played a role or not, but it sure plays on my mind. To watch a vibrant 2 yr old die within 24 hrs is just unthinkable. My baby Trin is so missed beyond words.


Donna
December 8, 2015

We lost our sweet Kody boy, Vizsla, Weimaraner mix. It is the same story. One day he was running around the yard, the next day he was collapsing in front of our eyes. He was 2 months from turning 12 years old. We have never heard of IMHA before and didn't realize just how bad it was. We put our sweet boy through one blood transfusion and our baby relapsed three days later where we made the decision to set his sweet soul free for Kody was an active pup at the age of 11 and this disease took him down fast. Three weeks after begin vaccinated, he started collapsing. I wonder if we didn't have him vaccinated if this would have happened. We just lost him on 12/2. It has been a tough loss and we are trying to focus on all the good memories! What a love he was here and he will continue to love us and help us now from heaven!


Marta
December 6, 2015

Linda!!!! You made your decision out of love for your dog! How lucky was your pet to be so loved! Stop the guilt please! This disease is horrific! We decided not to keep our beloved Angel in a hospital cage without her family around her... It was inevitable she would succumb to this disease. You made the right choice on behalf of your pet. Be at peace. Please.


Marta
December 6, 2015

Another heartbreaking story to share is of our beloved Golden Retriever Angel. And her name truly described her personality. Fine one day....,5 days later ...,with the  Angels...,how does one cope with a happy 10 year old one day and losing her by the end of the week???  She loved her dinner hour and when she didn't eat we knew  something was wrong. No apparent pain.. But the physical weakness that progressed to the point where our son had to carry her outside was heartbreaking . We knew she had to be out to rest. Bringing her to a hospital in a cage for transfusions away from her family for a short fix was not an option. She spent her last night with her family who loved  her so very much and her fellow pooches of 4 others at her side was how she ended her life. That was only yesterday. The pain and sadness is overwhelming. But she had 10 happy years with us and we will try to focus on that. But such a loss and such a void in all our hearts. We love you Angel


Michelle Q
December 5, 2015

My poor Mom and Dad's Yorkie Noel is on her 3rd transfusion as we speak. Apparently she has been stricken with IMHA as the result of a routine vaccine she had 30 days ago. Her RBC is not increasing despite 3 transfusions. She was completely healthy with no underlying conditions. We are so devastated and after reading all of these blogs I have little hope for her survival although we are continuing to pray. I know my parents still have hope and I'm afraid to tell them that not many precious pets survive this horrific disease.


Peg
November 24 2015

My sweet 4-year-old Eskimo Dog Theda succumbed to this disease last week. She was fine on Sunday and at death's door on Tuesday. I took her to the vet and her blood count was 12. Took her to the emergency vet hospital where she was given a transfusion and was doing very well - I was driving to visit her when I got the call that she had gone into cardiac arrest. They tried to keep her alive until we could get there, but she was gone. They're pretty sure she threw a blood clot. Nothing else out of the ordinary showed up in her blood tests or her ultrasound. I can't believe I'd never heard of this devastating disease. We are heartbroken.


Susan
November 23, 2015

Our beautiful goldendoodle, Shadow, had always been perfectly healthy until last April. Like so many others, it hit suddenly and he died just five days after diagnosis, despite getting all of the recommended treatments. The vet did find a large cyst on his liver during his final day and that could have contributed to his imha, so please make sure you get all of the tests they recommend. Shadow had everything but an ultrasound as they said they were sure it wasn't cancer, so an ultrasound wasn't necessary, but it might have been helpful if they had found the cyst earlier. I don't know. Then again, it was a no win, heartbreaking catch 22. He had to have surgery to remove the cyst because it was giving him a bacterial infection, but he couldn't have the surgery because he would bleed to death. It's so heartbreaking. We chose to keep him home during his final days but I also wonder if I should have taken him to the hospital earlier. He had been going regularly to a specialist during those five days, but we didn't want him to be hospitalized. So many, what ifs. We'll always miss you Shadow, you were the world's best dog.


Stacy
November 23, 2015

Our sweet little Lucy was an 11 year old beagle and Chihuahua mix. She was diagnosed with imha Monday 11/2/15. She was perfectly fine and acted normally the day before. She could not walk 2 feet before she would fall down. She would not eat. She was hospitalized at the vet and was given a blood transfusion. Thursday she was a little better and came home with meds. By Friday morning She was back to being as sick as she was Monday, if not worse. I took her back to the vet for more treatments, but no improvement. I could not stand for her to be in a cold lonely cage all weekend. Friday evening we brought her back home with us where she was happy and more comfortable. I sat on the couch and cuddled with my sweet girl all evening.  Her breathing was fast and shallow around 11:30 ok when we went to bed. She could not walk or stand, so I carried her to bed and laid her in her normal spot at the end of our bed with a blankie.  By 3:30 am Saturday 11/7/15 she had passed peacefully in her sleep. This was such a blessing as we had watched her suffer with no improvement for five days and Our sweet girl was no longer in pain. It has been two weeks and I miss my little Lucy like it was yesterday.


Dean
November 11, 2015

My Stella, who was a little over 3 years old got diagnosed with this. Took her to the vet and her blood count was around 23. She did not seem to get any better and I took back to the vet two days later. Her blood count went down to 13 and her prognosis was not good. She would not eat and could not walk any more. My wife and I made the grave decision to put her down. This was the hardest decision I had to make. She was in a lot of pain and was suffering. I feel guilty for doing this to her, but I believe in my heart it was the right decision. I never heard of this disease before, and I can't tell you how quick it moves. Fine one day, and then unable to do anything the next. I hope they figure out what causes this and find a cure. I really miss my Stella, but know she in much better place.


Kellie Tester
November 7, 2015

My beloved cocker spaniel died of this horrible painful disease on October 25,2015. She was fine Friday. Saturday morning she wouldn't eat and when she fell over trying to walk I took her to vet. She got continually worse as day went on. No energy, wouldn't eat, vomiting yellow, diarrhea etc...her red blood cell dropped from 18 to 12. We decided to do a transfusion. Next day she looked terrible. Yellow eyes, tongue, and mouth same symptoms as above. I was completely devastated and heartbroken. This dog that has given me so much joy and love was dying in front of my eyes. It was more than I could bear. That evening they called me in and told me she wouldn't make it through the night. I came in and she looked at me with those beautiful brown eyes and was wagging her little tail. I was with her when she put her to sleep. I am still grieving and heart sick over this. In 2 days I lost my wonderful girl. My advice to anyone going through this take your dog home and love on them. I missed that opportunity. She was in the hospital. I would not have not done the blood transfusion. It made her worse and more uncomfortable. I loved that dog so very much and wish she was still here with me. If anyone is going through this and need to talk I am here. My number is 423 306 5881 . In Mattie's memory I will never forget you my sweet baby!


Carol Zielinski
October 31, 2015

My 9 year old Beagle was just diagnosed with IMHA and was hospitalized for two nights. She was able to come home Tuesday, but I was nervous. We have the responsibility of determining her gum colors and more. She see the vet 1-2 a week and will be for quite awhile. Upon diagnosis s, her RBCs were at 14 - which quickly followed with a blood transfusion. She is home now and I work are. To give ground beef or patties high in liver, beer and spinach.  I believe this is helping her. Her gums are getting pinker and little bits of her are slowing coming back! i took her to a priest to have her blessed, I think that might have helped in some small way.


Shannon
October 26, 2015

@Linda Stewart Please don't feel guilty. My heart is breaking for you. You made the right decision! I really feel like my dog's survival was a miracle. I too would have had to let her go if she didn't get better. The cost is so much. So glad you had your husband to help you. I didn't have anyone, so I told a friend that I needed her to step in and tell me when it was enough. I was afraid I would keep her alive for my own selfish reasons. This is a horrible nasty disease. My dog is still on meds and I worry every day that she will have a relapse. I hope you find comfort in your decision. It was the right one. I'm praying for you!


Sammy
October 24, 2015

Hi, I am looking for connections to diagnosis of this disease to dogs that have had the Proheart Injection. I normally stay away from systemic medications but this was a special circumstance (due to the job she is preparing for) and the dog has not been the same since. She was in heat and then spayed just before she was given the injection. I attributed her behavior changes to hormones but knowing dogs like I do, she should be past that by now. She is a young female Jack Russell, just over a year and a half. She has been in training for a job involving scent work and has just seemed to have lost interest and has had some personality changes. I have been looking into early signs of this and just general side effects of the injection and she isn't presenting symptoms other than behavior changes but I am going to get blood work done this week just to be sure. Anyway, I didn't notice a correlation in any of the comments, but wonder if any of your dogs were receiving this type of heartworm prevention or had received it in the months leading up to diagnosis. Thanks for your input and I am so very sorry for your losses and suffering. I have had many friends lose dogs to this so I try and be hyper vigilant. I hope I didn't cause something by straying from my normal routine.


Linda Stewart
October 19, 2015

My 10.5 yr.old Shih Tzu was fine. She got lethargic with white gums and wouldn't eat. We took her in next a.m. Red blood cell count was 17. They wanted to do a blood transfusion to buy time to be sure. After two painful hours of saying yes then no...we elected to let her go. They were wonderful. They let us do it outside on a blanket with her on my lap. The trouble is ,I am wracked with guilt was because part of the decision was based on not wanting to put her through the possible treatment and the cost too. I feel like I let her down and should have tried harder. My heart is broken because I'll never know if I made the right decision because I didn't go for that blood transfusion. I didn't want to leave her there to be poked and prodded but I also couldn't imagine spending perhaps thousands that we'd need to put on a credit card. I feel like I don deserve to have a dog if I can't afford the illnesses that come up. Most of my dogs have lived very long lives. I'm still in shock. Thanks for letting me vent. My husband has accepted our choice and I'm driving him nuts with my doubts.


Shannon
September 29, 2015

On Sunday, Sept 20, 2015, My 10 year old chihuahua was not acting herself- Linkin wouldnt eat or drink and she just laid around. On tuesday Sept 22, I took her in to the bet.  Linkin was extremely anemic. Her gums were white, she was so dehydrated, breathing was really bad.  Her pvc levels tested 20%. My vet gave her iv fluids, drew blood to send off to test for tick diseases. On wednesday Sept 23 she looked worse,  We went back to the vet. Linkin was lethargic, gums white- extremely dehydrated again, breathing was worse.  Linkins levels were down to 18% now. The vet gave her iv fluids again and started her on Minocycline and Prednisolone and a compound for baby aspirin. Thursday Sept 24 we were back in her office- This time her levels were down to 10%. Linkin needed a blood transfusion right then. We used the vets personal dog for the blood. He is a universal donor, so it wasn't an exact match and I was told we will only be able to use a universal donor once. The blood transfusion was slowly done in her office that day. She sent us home at 5pm with an additional rx "Atopica". She also scheduled an appt for the next day to get an ultrasound done in Dallas. the ultra sound will show if she has any tumors or cancer.  The next Morning (Friday Sept 25) she was doing so much better. gums were pink again, she could walk again. The ultra sound came back clear. Praise Jesus! We went back to her office for more iv fluids and her levels tested at 37%! I took her in Yesterday (Mon sept 28) and her levels were at 43% no fluids were needed and the tick test came back negative. We are going to test her levels 2 x a week for awhile and we are keeping her on the prednisolone,  Atopica and the baby aspirin. She took her last pill of the minoclycline last night. I feel so much better about her recovery now. She's doing so well. I dont think I have prayed so much in my life. I am praying for all of you that are going through this with your baby- and praying for all of you that lost your baby to this nasty disease. My heart breaks for you all after reading your stories.


Jane Lomax
September 29, 2015

After my father became sick and hospitalized on Dec. 6, 2014, I took his beloved chihuahua, Trigger, home to I've with me, my husband and 3 dogs and 1 cat.  Trigger was 6 years old but still very playful.  She was over weight from my Dad spoiling her.  My Dad died on Jan. 7,2015.  Trigger was happy and healthy unail Monday, September 28, 2015 when she didn't leave her bed much that day or eat as much as normal.  By today, Tuesday morning ,September 29, 2015, she was struggling to breathe and I noticed her tongue and gums pale.  I took her to the vet who immediately diagnosed her with IMAH- which I never heard of before.  Her blood work showed her red cell count t was 5...the vet didn't think  she would survive 2 1/2 drive to a state university vet school.  I made the hard decision to let her go in peace and not suffer.  I felt as though I was losing a part of my Dad all over again.  I am heartbroken and in shock how fast she went from being happy and healthy to a sick, little girl.  My vet gave me this article on IMHA to read and I am blown away by others stories.  Now I am scared my 3 year maltese/shih tzu,  my 12 year Westie and my rescue dog will come down with this.  Trigger had received no shots or any medicine prior to this occurring which is what truly scares me for my other babies!! Thanks for letting pour our my tears on this page. Prayers for all the fur parents who are struggling with this awful disease.


Christine C
September 18, 2015

Our 3 1/2 German Shepherd, Annie, was swimming on Thursday, a little tired on Friday, not eating & lethargic on Saturday, 5 am Sunday morning she was at the ER vet with 106 temp after noticing her red urine. The Dr. suspected IMHA but treated her with fluids & told us to keep her quiet. Her PCV was 33.  By noon, I could tell she was going downhill & we rushed her to the Vet teaching hospital in Madison, WI.  Her PCV had dropped to 22.  We admitted her overnight & stayed in Madison for a consult the next day with an internal medicine doc.  Her PCV dropped to 19 so they gave her a transfusion.  It had bumped up to 23 when we saw Annie the next morning.  The doctor was very honest with us & told us it was either all in or put her down.  We went all in and she stayed in the ICU unit for 6 days.  Her PCV dropped to 17 & they had to give a second transfusion but then she started slowly improving.  We brought her home the following Saturday with 3 medications, Plavix, Prednisone & Atopica.  It is now 3 weeks later and we have started tapering her prednisone & her PCV has gone up to 49%.  The only side effect she is having is extremely loose stools.  After reading so many sad stories, I know we are one of the lucky ones for now and keep praying she holds her own and doesn't relapse.  Neither of us had ever heard of this devastating disease before.  I truly believe if we had not taken her to Madison, she would not have made it.  I can't say enough about the care she received there and believe her staying in the ICU with constant monitoring made the difference.  Fortunately, we could afford the $6500 bill and expensive medications she is on.  My heart & prayers go out to anyone who gets this diagnosis for their best friend.


Terry Gonzalez
September 16, 2015

My husband and I recently lost our dog Ruca to a massive heart attack after seven blood transfusions for IMHA.  I decided to put up a website with information on the disease in hopes of provided other dog owners some solace in the fact that they are not alone in their grief.  Please check it out (especially Ruca's story) at www.imhasupport.com


Car Godin
September 5, 2015

My beautiful 6yr old Coton de Tulear was never sick a day in her life. Went to bed Saturday and woke up Sunday not wanting to do much of anything. Rushed her into the ER Vet Monday am as it was so unlike her but she was eating and drinking and going outside to go to potty. ER Vet said she had a fever but felt there was nothing life threatening that couldn't wait until 7 am to see her regular vet. By 8 am, she was diagnosed with IMHA and treatment was started. She was on IV all day and came home at 7pm, had a rough night and was back for blood tests at 7 am the next day. Her numbers dropped so she wanted her to have a blood transfusion. I turned her over to the ER Vet we'd been to the night before for treatment....4000 for one plan, 1500 for the other of what the dr. told me was a "totally treatable disease". After getting her transfusion, her numbers rose from 11 to 29 and the dr felt she'd be back with me by 6:00 pm the following evening. I checked on her several times throughout the night, all reports good, though she still wasn't eating but walking, drinking, being interested in what was going on around her. When I walked in the door at 6:45 I was told that she'd thrown a blood clot and in the process of dying (I was paying for her to be under 24 hr observation and they left her for an undisclosed amount of time and found her down.) This is a very cruel and horrible disease that scares me! I also have a 6 yr old Bichon that I am worried sick over because of how quickly and without warning this struck and took my babygirl. I was ready to fight the battle and do whatever it would take to beat it but did not get the chance.


Rebecca
August 28, 2015

My Schnauzer mix was diagnosed in early August.  I thought I had lost her twice but she is doing much better and is only on Prednisone now.  It has been an emotional roller coaster but she is hanging in there.  She is still really weak and I have to lift her on and off the bed and sofa.  She has had her moments when she is playful, however.  To anyone going thru this, I would say don't give up hope.  I never gave up on her and I think my dog knew it.  There were low points when I was feeding her with a syringe food and water.  She's not out of the clear yet but I am relieved she's doing much better.  So again, don't give up hope.


Lisa
August 24, 2015

My 9 y/o mini schnauzer was just diagnoses with IMHA this past Friday. My mind was in such a spin that I just went with what the vet said she was going to do...she did not explain the 50/50 chance before beginning treatment or ask if I wanted to treat.  I feel that in those moments, it is crucial for the vet to just come out and state the odds, the long term effects etc.  I am not unfamiliar with terms since I am a nurse, but in those moments... I was not.  I needed someone to really hit me hard with the realities. I was sent home, Holly got her transfusion, and I came back at the end of the day to pick her up along with all her meds... and a bill of close to 2000.00.  I pulled out all my ATM and credit cards to pay... went home with my weak, ill, beloved Holly and cried. Over the weekend, we had our ups and downs, and now I am waiting to hear back from the vet regarding her blood counts today.  It has come to the point where I have had to draw a financial line in the sand, which I feel terrible about.  IMO, lines should be drawn based on quality of life,long term effects, etc. and not finances, but that isn't an option for me anymore.  Holly is doing fine at the moment. Each day is different, up, down, all around.  She did not present with jaundice, or any other organ involvement, but I am afraid every day ... every moment, that I will hear her  count has dropped and she needs a transfusion... My hope is, of course, that things just continue getting better...her lethargy is improved, and I see sparkle in her eyes. I also wanted to mention that with Holly, there was no vaccination that it could possibly have been linked to.  I stopped vaccinating her 3 years ago after an anaphylactic reaction immediately following.  Maybe it is something hereditary in her... probably will never know. Thank you for listening to my rant. Many prayers and well wishes to those who are going through this, and those who have yet to be diagnosed.  Prayers and condolences to those who have been through this and lost their companion.


Sarah
August 21, 2015

My dog is one of the fortunate few that has survived IMHA. He was diagnosed last November and I was told he likely would not make it more than a month, 9 months later he is healthier than ever, had his blood work done today and his RBC is 49. I know it can strike again anytime and I watch him like a hawk. His vet team has never seen a dog recover so well and every time we go in like to tell me I need to play the lottery because we are so lucky to have had such a remarkable recovery. With that being said I want to share what we have done in addition to the traditional route (steroids, immune suppressive medications)....A few days after he had his rabies vaccine is when I noticed the lethargy and lost appetite. I know a little bit about vaccine injury and contacted a homeopath who recommended I give him a dose of silicea....I immediately ran to Whole foods and got the silica and gave it to my dog. That evening he was not showing improvement and we went to the ER and after all of the tests he was diagnosed, his RBC was 11 and they ruled out all other causes of the anemia. He had a transfusion and slowly but surely his RBC started going up, 3 days later he was home and recovering, he slowly bounced back and 2 months later was off all medication. We also feed him a homemade diet of free range chicken, turkey, beef, fish, sweet potatoes, spinach and various fruits and veggies. We do not and never will vaccinate him again and are very selective about what medications we give him as we do not know what could trigger another IMHA episode. I attribute his recovery to the vets of course but also believe the homeopathic remedy was a key factor. He is almost 10 years old and as healthy as ever. I hope our story can help some of you going through the dread of IMHA, there is hope!


Denise
August 21, 2015

We have 2 Lancashire Heelers Tara and Stumpy aged 13 and 12. Last September both had their annual boosters and exactly 3 weeks later Tara became lifeless and had pale gums. At first we thought she was just tired and getting old but then the following day she went off her food so we took her to the E Vet who advised she had a PCV of 27 gave us an antibiotic and told us to her bring her back to see usual vet the following day. Tara deteriorated overnight she could not stand up and we had to carry her to the vets. Our vet gave her a scan took bloods and advised her blood count was 18 and was almost certaint she had a tumour on her pancreas and asked if we wanted to call it a day. Yes those were his exact words!!! I was horrified at this because she had never been ill in 13 years and this would not come on overnight. Therefore, we insisted to see a specialist which did that same night and straight away she recognized the symptoms and said she was almost certainly was IMHA and tests will confirm this which they did. Tara stayed in the hospital for 5 days had a blood transfusion was put on the steroids and then came home with us. We knew she wasn't out of the woods and knew we had a long road ahead of us but we was prepared to give it a go. To cut a long story short, she has had her off days the steroids come with side affects and she has sickness and upset stomach a lot and has had one relapse when her medication was reduced too quickly. She has also had a bleed from her intesrine but recovered the following day. But despite all this we have managed her illness well but do have to monitor her because we know that at any time she can fall ill because this disease is vicious. We have learned to take each day at a time and today she is happy and full of life and we cherish every extra day we have with her. Tara is a lovely little dog and yes it's hard work at times but we do not regret giving her that second chance when our vet at the time wanted to call it a day.


Dr. Tony Johnson
August 19, 2015

Hi Claire; So sorry you are going through this. This is a terrible disease, and that's why I felt the need to write this piece. You are totally justified either way - going ahead, or stopping. It is harder to treat the second time, so the odds are against you, sad to say. It's not a painful disease and depending on how well she handles the trip to the hospital, it may not be all that bad to take her in for blood tests, but she likely feels quite weak and lethargic. Only you (with the help of your vet) can decide what's the right path, but in my experience listening to that little voice inside is very helpful. You could also talk to your vet about seeing an internal medicine or critical care specialist as there are some newer medications (like mycophenolate and cyclosporine) that are used with variable success, but there's no dishonor ins topping as you face badd odds. I wish you the best of luck and I am sorry for both of you - I hope it resolves in a way that you feel at peace with whatever decision is made.


Claire
August 19, 2015

Please help me I don't know what to do, my lunar has been hit with this for the second time. First time in 2013 and she was hospitalised, transfusions and a huge combination of drugs for months. She has been better since, never as energetic but happy. Now she has it again and is so weak. Back on steroids but getting slowly more lethargic by the day. Back to vets on Friday for more bloods. I don't know if I put her through all this again or let her go. It is breaking my heart to see her like this. She is only five and already hit twice. It's so unfair :-( please help me decide what's best for her. Will she be ok if we try to save her again or are we selfish to let her suffer. :-(


Katie Sherman
August 18, 2015

I had to elect to put my dog down because of this disease, not by choice but because there was nothing left for me to do. Money was not a factor when it came to his treatment. Over the course of one year, I spent over $10,000 and he did pretty well for about 2 months and then a relapse set in. The only positive about this scenario is that I worked from home and never left Charlie's side. The vet in Austin, Tx, Dr. Bowen was nothing short of amazing. We almost narrowed down the cause from over vaccination, which I know is not proven but it appears there are more cases than not referencing this same issue. Charlie was only 5 years old and essentially my child. I felt terrible about putting him to sleep but I knew it was the absolute right choice for him. Anyone who comes across this article with a pet who has IMHA, I send you all the good vibes I have. My girlfriend and I stayed up all night for many nights researching this disease but we held out hope. So I hope this gives you some encouragement to love the hell out of your fur baby if they are diagnosed with this terrible disease.


Debra Ryll
August 9, 2015

We just lost our 5-1/2 month old Airedale puppy  to this disease. One day she was fine, and three days later she was gone. On 7/20/15 Pepper had trouble peeing and passed some blood clots. The Vet diagnosed her with a UTI and put her on an antibiotic. She responded right away. Just over a week later, on 7/30, she was her usual happy, healthy, energetic puppy self. The next morning she was lethargic and wouldn't eat or drink. We took her to the Vet the following day, and her blood count (I found out later) was 22. She was put on a saline drip and given prednisone (along with every test in the book). She spent the night in the hospital and the next morning her count was 16 - I thought they meant it was improving, not falling. They said she should come back in 12 hours for a blood test, but I waited until the next morning as she had been so poked and prodded I wanted her to rest. The next morning, 8/2, she was much worse - she could barely stand - and when we brought her to the hospital her blood count was 10. The Vet said it was either euthanasia or "balls to the wall" medical intervention, blood transfusions, hospital stays, etc. I looked at my poor little puppy, and I knew in my heart she was not going to survive. We put her to sleep, but making the decision whether to fight the disease or let her go was the hardest choice I have ever had to make, especially since she was so young. We are totally devastated.


Dee Israel
August 4, 2015

I just lost my Bernese Mountain Dog to IMHA 7/28/15. This was a dog so full of life. We did classes, therapy work, and loved hiking.  The very first problem was his lack of appetite. I kept telling others I couldn't get my Berner to eat which was not like him. Then when I took him to vet we were hit with the bad news,(IMHA). In all my years of having dogs and cats this was something we had never had before. After blood transfusions that only bought us a couple days,then his numbers would drop to 12-14%. After learning that Booker's immune system was forever compromised and we wouldn't be able to do the things we always enjoyed, I let my BIG guy go. I miss him so much everyday. Booker was only 3 years 3 months. As hard as it was to euthanize my best friend. I also allowed OSU to study his remains in hopes of gaining more knowledge so other families won't have to go through this horrible disease. Booker always gave. He enjoyed the children at school, people in the hospitals and everyone he ever met. He is MISSED by many.


Annette Cross
July 30, 2015

My 8 year old maltese, Leo, was diagnosed this past Monday with IMHA. He went to vet office with many of the same symptoms discussed in this article. HCT was 15% and after blood transfusion his HCT was 21% and the next day remained at 21%. My vet said that made her really happy, so I am hopeful. We have started on 10 mg prednisone daily along with other meds to protect his stomach. He is eating, drinking and urinating, but has no energy at all, which I expect. I am hoping he has a milder form of this awful disease, but still I am very guarded and understand that he can take a turn for the worse at any given time. We will know tomorrow what his blood count is and I am hoping for the best. I appreciate all those that have taken the time to post as it has helped me tremendously. I wish the best to all those who are surviving. My heart goes out to those of you that lost your friend. I understand that Leo's fate can go either way. I just hope that I  continue to understand that I owe it to him to ensure a quality life.


Jenny A.
July 17, 2015

My 11 year old Shih Tzu, Bubbles, died out of the blue yesterday. She was acting completely normal, she had eaten her breakfast and my husband, our Doberman Bear, Bubbles and I were outside. The dogs were doing their business and my husband was getting our boat ready to head out on the water. I went inside to get a cooler ready and not 30 seconds after going inside, my husband yelled for me to get back outside. I run out and Bubbles is laying lifeless in the grass. Her heart is barely beating but her eyes are wide open and her tongue is hanging out. She looks dead but for the very weak heart beat. We got in the car and tried to make it to the animal hospital but half way there I felt her heart stop. The vet confirmed, she had no heartbeat. I asked her what she thought the cause might be and she could only speculate but noticed some bruising on her belly that was not consistent with trauma. I thought maybe my husband accidentally hit her while backing the car out or maybe our 2 year old Doberman ran into her running too fast. But she said it didn't look like trauma. Short of doing an autopsy, which she would have had to send her to another location for, she thought it might be IMHA. But in reading everyone's posts on here, I feel like there would have been SOME indication of something being wrong with her. I had rubbed her belly the day before and had noticed no bruises Also, my husband said he heard her make a weird yelp sound like a cry for help just before and that's what made him look. Is it possible IMHA could take effect all in such a short time? I just need some closure, I need to know what the heck happened to my baby! It's driving me crazy. She had a rabies vaccine not 2 weeks ago. She had lots of allergies, ear infections, and licked her paws incessantly, and had swollen lymph nodes at her appointment a couple weeks ago. She was on an antibiotic for that. Does anyone have any idea what might have caused her death? does this sound like IMHA like the vet thought it might be?


Wanda
July 15, 2015

My Tibetan Spaniel was diagnosed in October of last year 2014.  Similar story to all of yours except that they did not give her transfusions.  She stabilized with Prednisolone and Azathioprine.  She was weaned off very slowly from the Pred and kept on the Aza a few months later, her numbers started going down again, so back she went on the Pred.  She acts like she doesn't know that she is sick.  She is happy, goes for walks etc... After reading your comments, I wonder how much time I have left with her.  Blessings to all of you.


Marcy Hamilton
July 15, 2015

I am so sorry to read about all the dogs who lost their lives to this horrible disease...it is truly heartbreaking.  I want to add our story, because our little Lhasa Apso, Honey, is one of the fortunate few to have a happy ending.  I want others to know that while there is a lot of uncertainty with an IMHA diagnosis, there is also hope...a couple of days after getting an injection of heartworm prevention medicine from our vet, when she was 2 1/2, she suddenly stopped eating and drinking, laid down and would barely move. The next morning, she went outside and collapsed. We rushed her to our vet and her red blood cell count was 10...and she had been just fine less than 48 hours before this.  The vet had us immediately rush her to an emergency vet hospital, because he was certain that she might not make it thru the next hour.  She was given 2 blood transfusions, and treated with many meds.  Five days and $2500 later, she came home with a bag full of prescription medicines with months of refills.  It took months, but she slowly got better until eventually it was like she had never had it.  That was 11 years ago, and she has not even had an ear infection since then.  However, she has also not received any vaccinations or preventative medicines since then.  We had never heard of IMHA, so we went online and read everything we could.  The one thing that the majority of owners agreed on was that it seemed to have been brought on by a vaccination or heartworm shot...all of the vets however were convinced that it wasn't, and were generally not happy with our decision to discontinue any shots for her or our other two Lhasa's.  In fact, we were just told by the vet today, for the very first time, that the consensus now is to discontinue vaccinations for any IMHA survivor.  I'm not advising owners to not get vaccinated, but to just keep a close eye for a few days afterward, because it does hit incredibly fast.


Marge Davis
July 7, 2015

I would just like to add a little bit of hopefulness to this sad conversation, and point out that successful treatment--though expensive and time consuming, can indeed buy some precious, genuinely high-quality time with your dog. Our lab-mix rescue Stella, age about 5, was diagnosed with IMHA a little over a year ago--June 1, 2014. She was in tough shape, RBC around 15%, got two transfusions and a slew of meds--prednisone cyclosporine, Chlorambucil, etc. Vet visits 2-3 times a week in the early stages, weekly for months, then finally just every 2-3 weeks. We stopped tallying costs when they got to $10,000. (Hey, we are a childless older couple, so we could afford this--not many can.) Anyway, the good news is that Stella survived the crucial first week and has been a happy, beloved dog for more than a year--albeit an obese one, as she never could go off the prednisone (or some of the other drugs) and her appetite was huge. And though she never did regain a truly healthy level of activity, over the past year we have taken walks as long as three miles, lots of boat rides, played (sort of) at the dog park, swum in be lake and had countless hours of priceless cuddling time--the time with her has been worth every penny and we are inexpressibly indebted to her awesome vets in Maine and Tennessee. But now the sad news--our run of good fortune appears to be over. Stella's platelets dropped last week, her appetite fell off and she grew suddenly weak. She went back to 2x a day prednisone, plus an antibiotic and an immunosuppressant (she's still on the Cyclosporine and Chlorambucil). She is now a but unsteady on her feet, her breathing is shallow and fast, and her gums have turned back to that dreaded pale. Her regular vet isn't in today so we have an appointment for tomorrow, and we know we won't be bringing her home. We are dumb with grief, but nonetheless grateful for every moment we've had with her these last 13 months. Just something to consider along with all the other variables that confront owners of dogs faced with this fearsome disease.


Nadene Goleski
June 30, 2015

My little girl was Rosie Maltese 6lbs was just diagnosed yesterday. She went from playful to laying around and us having to carry her. I have noticed that with in the past few weeks (3-4) that changes were apparent. She didn't run around in circles when asked to go out, didn't jump up on my husband's legs wanting to be picked up, didn't ask to go out any more and went in the house we just thought it was because it was wet out side from all the rain. I thought these were all little attitude problems but I realize that it started about 6 weeks ago and I didn't question it. she is now just laying around. I give her the steroids and an appetite stimulant and something called Atopica plus force feeding her. I don't know if I should do the transfusion form all that I have read. I just can't bear to losing my little girl. Please if anyone has any suggestions please help I am at a loss for words on all of this and am shocked to all of it.


Kris Armstead 
June 4, 2015

Hi, Miranda our standard poodle, was less that 3 years old and in top show condition  when she missed 2 meals and went quiet  so off to the vets with a temp of 41.5 and jaundiced.  Since then she has had 3 blood transfusions full body scan lung xrays 10 days with the specialists on drips etc  She obviously threw off a clot but was already on  medicine to allay this. Miranda came home after 10 days  and I put her on to 2 hourly feeding  her weight went to 15 kilos from 25 but over the course of the last 6 weeks etc she is back to 24 kilos and is now allowed to exercise on a lead. Her beautiful stunning coat now cut off, she has a patchy dry skin and 3 or 4 sores on her but she is back to her princess self with her 2 slaves in attendance. Miranda is still not out of the woods but  we have now started to reduce her medication  and she is down to 12.5 predisone a day plus her 200 grams of Atopica  . I can  not say enough about the treatment  she has received from the specialist and my home vet .  I read the few comments from other people who have been through this emotional roller coaster of trying to  cope with this disease and I feel so lucky to have had the means to be able to pay for treatment, to have had such a strong willed dog who would fight and not give up . We are not out of the woods completely but we can see light at the end of the tunnel and God willing she will recover completely .


Max's dad, Rick 
June 3, 2015

Our experience sounds so similar to the others.  Max first appeared sick Monday night.  Brought to the vet Tuesday morning.  They diagnosed Imha (RBC /26) and gave meds.  The vet and staff seemed very reassuring that he would be fine.  He seemed about 75% normal Tuesday night but by the morning the high dose of prednisone had worn off and he was worse then the day before.  We took him back to the vet and his RBC was 16.  He could not move and his breathing was shallow and rapid.  We discussed the options and chances of success and sadly decided to let him be at peace.  He was one of 3 dogs and my other two boys are going to miss him.  One was his brother and they were side by side about 23.5 hours a day.  Now I'm researching dog bereavement and hoping the survivors do well with the leader of the pack's absence.


Betty Patchell 
May 23, 2015

My sweet little female Dachshund was 7 1/2 when she got IMHA, she was in the hospital for 7 days, she came home at night the last 2 days of her life, she died in my daughters arms taking he in for a blood transfusion, she had many of them and piles of pills put down her throat. I miss her so much and feel for all of you that have been through this, it is horrible, all I have left of her is a box of ashes. I hope they can come up with a cure for this disease.


Pamela Michel 
May 23, 2015

On Thursday April 9th, my almost 15 year old toy poodle Peggy Sue started acting strange.  She would stop and stare off into space like she forgot where she was going and not eating nor drinking as she normally did.  Before then she was running around and jumping like a 3 year old pup!  No one could believe she was 14!  That Tuesday IMHA was confirmed.  After 4+ weeks of vet and hospital visits, transfusions, meds, it became apparent that her immune system would not quit destroying her red blood cells.  Sadly I had to say goodbye to my darling little girl on May 8th.  I will never know what triggered it...I will never know if "trying one more thing" would have resolved it...but I do know that "IMHA" is a horrible disease and no pet nor pet owner should have to go through it! Although God answered many of my prayers during that time (I did have her with me for longer than many pet parents do), He did not answer the prayer to save her. I am still crying...and I miss her so much!  My heart is broken...my life feels empty...and sometimes I feel that all the joy has gone out of my life forever.  Now I am trying to figure out how to raise money for Meisha's Hope Fund #338 at the Morris Animal Foundation.  The Meisha's Hope Fund raises money for AIHA/IMHA research.  That way maybe I can feel that something good came out of my darling Peggy Sue's illness.


Pete 
May 21, 2015

Our dog, a seven year old Cocker Spaniel developed IMHA four days after having received a Lepto booster shot. Within 48 hours of diagnosis, he passed. We researched the disease, treatment, prognosis and sadly decided the life he had would never what it was, only suffering. To the medical community, there needs to be more research and CONSIDERABLY more caution when vaccinating this breed. Given susceptibility, titer tests need to be the norm before needlessly stressing and challenging the immune system.


Lucinda Slabaugh 
May 16, 2015

I am commenting to this site to help anyone whose pet is diagnosed with IMHA. After 5 days in an emergency hospital and almost $5,000.00 in expenses my female standard poodle Millicent was put to rest. In hindsight I wish after receiving the diagnosis I had taken her home and let her pass on naturally. The devastation of watching her for five days struggle for me was almost too much to bear.  My heart goes out to anyone who's beloved dog is diagnosed with this horrible disease.


Kimberly Beveridge 
May 12, 2015

Our sweet English Shepherd died yesterday of IHMA.  He was 6 1/2.  Thursday he was fine, Friday he didn't want to finish his dinner and Saturday he was at the vet getting blood transfusions.  We brought him home on the 4th day and had our vet put him to sleep on his favorite blanket as his kidneys were shutting down.  I am beyond devastated and shocked at how a healthy and happy dog succumbed to this.  We green lighted everything in order to save his young life.  I hate this disease and have the outmost of compassion for anyone else who has to experience it.  For the love of dogs, I hope there is a better survival rate one day.


Leslie Allen 
May 10, 2015

I've read all the comments here.... And I just want to say...I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry for everyone here that has had to go through this terrible ordeal. It has been 6 months since my sweet little Lilly passed away... My life forever changed because of this disease.  So many precious lives....too many sweet souls have been taken.  My heart goes out to all of you...treating this disease currently and those that have lost your sweet  little friends to it.  I continue to say it's so unfair everyday... How I miss her so.  Praying for a cure and soon <3


Sharon 
May 8, 2015

My DDB had her checkup and was said to be healthy. She was just under 8 years old. 2 weeks later she skipped a meal. The next day I took her into the E-vet because she skipped breakfast and had white gums. Her PCV was at 15%. We had to take her to Wisconsin (we live in northern IL) for treatment. By the time we got there her PCV dropped to 12%. She got a blood transfusion and IV meds. She was able to come home the next day but needed to be checked each day for the next few days. After the 5th day Her PCV finely rose to 23%. We were able to back off the PCV/CBC tests to once a week. The first week she only went up 3% and the next week she didn't rise at all, she had stopped at 26%. She was on 5 different meds. That was this past Tuesday. On Thursday morning she was weak and didn't eat. I rushed her into the vet and they took her in before the office even opened. She couldn't even walk in, I had to carry her. Her PCV had dropped to 9% IN JUST 2 DAYS. The vet said there was nothing to do but let her go (more or less). She said if I took her home she would begin seizing and would dye within 1-3 hours. All this treatment cost just over 2000.00 and I only got 3 extra weeks. In these weeks she was isolated (as we were destroying her immune system). I wish I could have taken her to all the places she liked. She had gotten her CGC and TDI. She helped me through my recovery from a traumatic brain injury and loved/was loved by everyone. I had to just leave her at that e-vet office that was not her office with people I didn't know. I am just sad.


Lee 
April 28, 2015

I must say it's been a trying month. My 8 year Bichon X was diagnosed about a month ago with IMHA. He was perfectly fine before then, not many health issues. Then I noticed he stopped eating his kibble, but I didn't think anything of it since he can be picky and he was still eating his treats. A day or two later he stopped eating his treats. I noticed he lagged a bit while out on his walks and thought maybe he ate something that was upsetting his stomach. The next morning he wouldn't get out of bed. I noticed how pale his gums were and took him to the vet right away. The vet suspected IMHA and started him on a high dose of prednisone while we waited for the results of the blood test to come back. His RBC count was about 35% of normal range and his hematocrit was about 44%. Day 3 was horrible, he looked like he wasn't going to make it, refused all food and wouldn't drink water. I was reluctant to do the blood transfusion as I read a lot of horrible things that had happened to dogs with IMHA so opted to add cyclosporine. It probably took until Day 5 to see improvements. He started eating on his own and perked up a bit. I was able to keep him on the same dosage of Prednisone for about two weeks, then he started to hyperventilate in the middle of the night. The vet told me to reduce the prednisone which made him more comfortable. He was almost back to normal - eating, drinking, would go out for walks but you can tell he wasn't 100%. His blood test came back with improvement. Things were looking good. Until yesterday. We had decreased his prednisone again but yesterday he started vomiting up his food. He still had a bit of an appetite but he couldn't keep anything down. Today he had no appetite. The vet gave him something to coat the stomach but I'm not having any luck. This is really frustrating as he just had a blood test done on the weekend and he is almost within normal ranges (94%). We're going to try to lower the prednisone again, hopefully it'll help manage the side effects.


William 
March 22, 2015

My pitbull-American bulldog mix Valentine got diagnosed on Black Friday 2014(so glad I didn't go shopping) and it's been a rough go since then. After a 3 day vet stay, a transfusion and about $4,500 His cbc is coming back in the normal range, but the prednisone is ruining his liver. They didn't tell me what his levels are at, but it's severe enough that we're having to drop the prednisone 10mg about a month ahead of schedule. Hepatic support meds, hepagin c, cyclosporine, aspirin, on and off antibiotics to control infection, 6 bowls of water a day and liver diet dog food ($60 for 13lbs) along with another med I have to pick up tomorrow from the pharmacy along with blood tests and other side effects causing extra visits to the vet. It's costing about $600 a month to keep him going. Luckily I can afford it (barely) but this disease is one tough SOB and my heart goes out to anyone else having to go through this.


John Miller 
March 17, 2015

Our 4 year old Cocker Paisley, was diagnosed with IMHA on Sunday, March 14th. Her red cell count was 13. Our Vet immediately administered Prednisone, as we opted to forgo a blood transfusion. She is showing signs of feeling better i.e. eating steak and drinking water again and her urine has cleared up. We have a follow-up appointment to check her RBC's today, March 17th. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good news. What a terribly devastating disease to battle. Our family wouldn't be the same without our Paisley.


Barb 
March 14, 2015

My mini schnauzer had IMHA in 2009. Completely stopped eating and moving wouldn't go outside, just laid on the couch very very ill. I called the vet and he thought she had hepatitis and recommended I take her to MSU (Michigan State University) vet hospital. She was kept there for 2 days and released back to my vet's care. She was on a long list of prescription drugs for 6+ months and beat it, thank GOD. She's 11 months old now and doing great although she's been on a low dose of prednisone for the last 6 years. It was a very expensive treatment, $5k plus, but well worth the expense for my little girl.


D. Bonifield 
March 12, 2015

Our 8 1/2 year old cocker, Fenway, was diagnosed with IMHD on Monday, March 9, 2015. He was his normal self on Saturday, appropriately harassing my wife's friends at a party. Sunday morning he slept late and walked slowly to his bowl when he normally runs. He would barely eat and was lethargic all day. He began vomited about 4:00 PM so we did not feed him Sunday evening. Two more vomit episodes and red urine during the night. We took him to the vet Monday morning. The vet recognized the IMHA symptoms right away and he was admitted to the hospital. His initial red cell count was 10, so he started on Prednisone and had his first transfusion that afternoon. Count came up to 15 on Tuesday but had dropped to 9 by Wednesday morning. He started on cyclosporine. He could barely hold his head up. Second transfusion on Wednesday raised the blood count to 21, but by Thursday morning it was 14 again and 15 Thursday evening. He was very sick when we visited Thursday evening. We are hoping to see blood count stabilize tomorrow, Friday. Many things to think and pray about.


S. St. Amant 
March 1, 2015

My beautiful and loving rescued Standard Poodle, Piper was diagnosed with this disease yesterday.  He woke up very listless on Friday morning.  He usually would jump off the bed or onto it and run to go outside.  He slowly got to the door and barely had the energy to move.  I let him rest, assuming he and his sister Holly had gotten into something they should not have.  I took him back outside and noticed his urine was red.  He and I went to the vet and he had a temperature of over 103. He was immediately taken to cool down.  His temperature eventually spiked at over 105.  He spent the night with IVs and medicines and when I saw him in the morning he perked up a bit.  Unfortunately his red cell count continued to drop, I stopped asking after in fell to 14 and his white cell count started to climb.  He was the most wonderful loving dog and I did not want him to be in any pain.  He had had a difficult time before he came to us and I did not want him to suffer, after all the love he had given us.  I sat with Piper for an hour and his Vet came in, who was also crying and he was put to sleep.  Piper gave us so much joy and kept me company.  He was my Love Bug.


Rebekah Mason 
February 21, 2015

Our 8mo old Italian Greyhound is battling this right now. She is on her second transfusion. On a combo of Prednisone and Cyclosporine. She is at 19% now.


D. Webber 
February 12, 2015

Our precious little chihuahua Lily Belle was very healthy, had a checkup & vaccines, bloodwork, etc. mid Dec. 2014.  Our baby dog was 8 yrs. young..picture of health...very playful, anyhow..This past saturday, she was fine..playing with us..we took her outside, she enjoyed sniffing the air.. everything was fine.  Sunday she laid around all day in her little bed on our couch..Sunday evening i took her up to my bed as i normally did every night.  She was very lethargic, had not eaten or drank all day.  I did dip my finger in water a few times and moistened her lips so she could lick it off.  Monday morning we took her to the vet.. blood work was done.. she was diagnosed with  Hemalytic Anemia.  We had never heard of it ..Our baby was given a blood transfusion, prednisone, aspirin..we were told a lot of stuff by the vet, which i remember in spurts now.  We left her at the animal hospital that day..later that afternoon we went to visit her and just hold her.  Her blood count had come up with the transfusion.  I held her and loved on her till the office closed.  Was planning to go visit at 10 am the next morning..Dr. called me just before i was to leave to go down there..said our baby was not doing well and to get down there quickly..when i got there she was gone.  It's so heartbreaking to know that she was so 'well' on Saturday, Sunday was sick..Monday had some treatments and we picked her up  and buried her on Tues.  I'm still in shock over this right now.  Dr. also said that this is more common in white dogs..which ours was/is white.  I pray that i'll never ever have to go thru this again with another pet.  It's so heartbreaking, our home is so quiet now.


Shannon 
February 11, 2015

Our 7 month old kitten passed away from this horrible disease this morning. She had a blood transfusion a month ago and was doing great until Monday night, took her in yesterday and vet said she was looking good last night & we could plan on bringing her home today..... then we got the call this morning :( Her sister is home very depressed. Good luck everyone.


Michelle Balent 
February 6, 2015

My four-year old Aussie was just diagnosed yesterday.  I appreciate the honesty of this article and all of the posted comments.  Onset for my Aussie was rapid and we are hopeful, yet realistic.  Prayers to all in treatment.


Dr. Tony Johnson 
February 3, 2015

Hi Elsie; A PCV of 30 is close enough to normal to feel OK. He may be feeling a little off from the meds, or from all the inflammation that comes along with the disease. Many dogs don't get to a normal PCV for weeks, and usually they are on meds for a total 4-6 months. Hopefully he'll start to feel better very soon. I wish you the best of luck.


Elsie 
February 2, 2015

We have been fighting this disease for the last month with our 9 1/2 year old goldendoodle. One day great, next day PCV of 19.  He has been on prednisone, doxycycline, and mycophenolate.  Today his PCV was 30.  He looks a lot better but still not "right".  How long does it normally take to get PCV into normal range? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Dr. Tony Johnson 
January 29, 2015

Hi Julie; There's lots of the picture that we don't have here, so it's hard to say what's normal and what isn't but if this is IMHA the one word that sums it up is 'unpredictable'. It depends on the degree of anemia and how fast it came on. He may have a milder form of it, or may still have enough blood that if he rests he will have some energy. I wish you and Petey the best of luck - I think at least discussing it over with your vet or with a specialist would be a good idea to make sure you have good information and know all the options.


Julie 
January 29, 2015

My Petey (80lb boxer) was diagnosed last night. He couldn't stand or walk & his gums were so pale. They said he may need. Transfusion soon but not yet. They said I need to decide either to go the steroid route or full blown treatment at a specialized hospital which I'm sure I can't afford. I'm taking him to my vet this morning to go over options. He looked near death last night but when we were leaving the vet he got up & walked out seeming much better. This morning his color is back & I can see he's feeling a lil better but definitely not 100%. Is this normal?


Jerry Goodell 
January 27, 2015

I'm writing this to help others who are seeking information and maybe hope while facing this dreaded condition. Our 10 year old Coton de Tulear Apple was diagnosed with IMHA in October. She had visited the vet for a cough 2 days before the diagnosis. They ran a blood test (normal) and the vet diagnosed her as having a throat irritation and prescribed a narcotic. For the next 2 days, she was very lethargic - which I attributed to the narcotic. More concerning, however, was that she refused to eat anything during that period. I took her back to the vet and they ran more blood tests. The vet came back and told me "You have a very sick dog. Her red blood cell count has dropped from 44% 2 days ago to 25%. Take her to an emergency hospital as soon as possible." At the ER, they ran more tests and diagnosed her with IMHA. They told be that she needed to be hospitalized while they treated her and to expect that the cost would likely be $5000+ - if she survived. When I left the hospital, there were tears in my eyes as I said goodbye to her for perhaps the last time. She ended up being hospitalized for 4 days and received 1 blood transfusion while they stabilized her condition. After returning home, treatment involved 14 pills a day (prednisone, cyclosporine, aspirin and Prilosec) + injections of heparin every 8 hours. Additionally, vet visits for blood tests were initially weekly (now every 3 weeks). After 3 months now of treatment, Apple has responded well - her red blood cell count is now normal although her white blood cell count is still elevated (though improving). She's down to 4 1/2 pills a day  and has regained her normal energy level. Total costs (hospitalization + medicines + vet visits) has been approximately $8000. On an ongoing basis, we have been told she can never be vaccinated again (which means boarding her is out) and needs to stay away from any strange or sick dogs because her immune system is now compromised. I hope this helps others! Good Luck!


Vicki 
January 12, 2015

May God Bless you all!  Our Yorkie/poo Harley is 4 days into treatment for IMHA is having his 2nd transfusion as I write to you.  This is an AWFUL disease, we are so heartbroken I can't begin to express the pain.  If the transfusion helps I plan to start on a Holistic plan ASAP.  Seems more promising than medications.  Keeps us in your prayers!  Harleyboy's  Mom


Judy 
December 15, 2014

Our daughter's 8 yr. old Jack Russell "Macie" was diagnosed with IMHA on Dec. 5, 2014.  She was "healthy" 3 days prior and was as active as ever.  Macie was put on meds but this terrible disease took her on Dec. 11th.  Her hematocrit was 18% on Dec. 5th and stayed at there over the weekend.  The vet did not want to do a blood transfusion yet.  Macie was weak and was eating and drinking but the meds were too much for her.  I went over to be with Macie on Dec. 11th until my daughter came home from work.  Macie was resting in her bed and did show some signs of difficulty breathing but it wasn't until she rolled on her side for a "belly rub" that I could see that it was much worse.  I could hear that there was fluid in her lungs.  Macie didn't seem to be in any pain, just had difficulty breathing and was tired.  She did seem weaker than usual and her gums were now white.  As soon as my daughter came home from work, she went to Macie, took one look at her and said, "We are taking her to the emergency vet."  My daughter had to move her car and when she came back into the house she saw me kneeling over Macie screaming and crying.  Macie had a heart attack right in front of me and there was nothing I could do about it.  Macie did not whimper or anything.  It was very sudden.  My daughter didn't want to accept it or give up so we took Macie to the vet.  She was gone by then.  My daughter and I broke down and cried our eyes out.  Macie was the "best friend" my daughter ever had.  She was her "wiggle butt" and was the cutest dog with a great personality.  My husband and I watched Macie several times and we even let her sleep in our bed with us. She literally wiggled her way in to our hearts!  We still can't believe our Macie is gone. My daughter is devastated and can't go more than an hour without getting teary eyed.  There will never be another Macie.  There is an emptiness in our hearts.  We are all going to try to remember the good times with Macie.


Laina Hearney
December 4, 2014

My 8.5 year old mini Schnauzer, Kobe passed away from IMHA within 6 days. Devastation doesn't begin to explain how I feel. Mommy misses you, Kobe. I'll never get over this loss. Kobe and I were robbed of so many years however, I'm so happy I was his mommy.


Michele 
November 23, 2014

Thank you for sharing this article. Our sweet girl, Cassy, was diagnosed with IMHA 1.5 years ago at age 10. Got through with just prednisone therapy and no hospitalization. Had a relapse over this past summer and we were very close to losing her. She was hospitalized for 4 days. Received transfusions and started on immunosuppressive therapy in addition to the steroid. It was touch and go for a while but she came back. As a now 12 yr old half lab/golden, she acted more like a 7 yrs old dog. Experienced such great times with her as we knew we were getting a second chance. They started tapering her meds. She did well, until the cyclosporine was stopped. The hematocrit dropped from 40 to 35 in 5 days.  Wanted to trend it and recheck in 1-2 weeks. I started seeing subtle changes in her behavior. Stopped following me floor to floor, winded up hill on walks. Had her CBC checked 6 days from the 35 reading. Dropped again to 33. Specialist wanted to hold off on adding anything back until her hematocrit dropped below 30% or her reticulyte count dropped below a certain point. That was this past Friday. Saturday, she woke up and was not ready to go as she usually is...and then she wouldn't eat. She has been in the hospital for 24+ hrs now with multiple transfusions and her PCV keeps dropping. Going to give it one more unit to buy time for the meds but it doesn't look promising. We were grateful to have these "extra" few months with her. What I would like to stress is listen to your gut. You know your dog best. If their behavior changes, no matter How subtle, don't make excuses for it. Have them checked out immediately. Her hematocrit/PCV was 33 on Thursday and is 12% today, Sunday, post transfusions. This is a terrible immune disease. Wish there was more research on it. Have a sliver of hope but have a feeling tomorrow will be a very sad day.


Leslie Allen 
November 16, 2014

My sweet precious Lilly pug passed away on 11.14.2014 from this heinous disease.  She was such a character and loved everyone.  She is terribly missed and we will never have another dog like her.  She didnt eat her dinner Sunday 11.09.2014 and it wasn't odd, she had done that before especially the nights that she just wanted that treat so bad.  On Monday 11.10.2014 she seemed sad and tired.  We should have taken her to see the vet then but still didn''t realize she was sick.  On Tuesday 11.11.2014 she started to be very weak and even refused an egg breakfast that day..she seemed even weaker than the day before so i made her an appointment with the vet on Wednesday.  Wednesday 11.12.2014 she laid around all day and at about 4.20pm she tried to get up and fell over...i ran to her...her heart racing and her eyes twitching from side to side...i thought she had had a seizure. i wish that had been all it was...her appt was at 5pm and he said she was severely anemic...her blood was 10 and most dogs are at 50...he rushed us off to the emergency vet..there they would tell us IMHA.  By Friday 11.14.2014 she would have a blood clot in her lungs and be on oxygen.  We went to visit her and i placed my hand in the box she was in...she was in so much pain and my normally "happy" girl was no longer there...she waited for us.  I placed my hand on her belly and said "i love you Lilly" she immediately went into cardiac arrest and we made the painful decision to help her along.  My husband and I stayed close by her side until her final breath.  This disease has forever changed my life.  She was my dearest companion and at only 9 years of age...i had so many plans for our next 4 to 5 years together.  My heart is broken.  Please help make others more aware of this disease..and DO NOT ignore the signs.  Its never silly to take your pet to the vet no matter how small you think it is.  I feel like if i had not ignored the signs on Monday my sweet little pug would still be with me.  Forever in my heart baby girl...until we meet again <3


Talbot's Family 
November 7, 2014

I am heartbroken to read all of your comments. You would think that I'd feel a sense of comfort, knowing that I am not alone in my grief of this terrible disease, but I am angered that our beautiful, sweet babies have all fallen victim to IMHA. IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE!!  Our 4 year old male, Talbot, was the light in our home. Just a week ago today, he spent Halloween dressed up as a squirrel (he loved to be dressed!!) and was so happy and vibrant to meet the kids at the door. On Sunday, Talbot showed no interest in food, but we just thought his belly was hurting (as had happened many times before). Monday morning, Talbot had urinated blood and we knew something was wrong. After some hours at the local vet, we were told that Talbot was severely anemic and needed intensive care - including a blood transfusion. When we got to the best veterinary hospital in New Jersey, we were told that Talbot had IMHA. We knew we had to give our little boy the best fighting chance he had, no matter the cost, and we did - his little body just couldn't fight off this terrible disease. Talbot passed away yesterday, November 6, 2014 at 8 AM. Our family is heartbroken and wants our little boy back. The house is so empty without him in it - I'd do anything to hear that bark again! We love you Tally boy! Please find a cure for IMHA!!!


Michael 
November 4, 2014

This horrendous syndrome took my beloved 10 year old Haley on October 14, 2014.  Like so many Otha, she was her normal self just 36 hours before we lost her.

No one can tell me how often it occurs, although I have been able to glean from the articles that certain breeds contract more than others, and from the DNA testing my Haley had 3 of the breeds that are known to contract it.

I miss her terribly, and I just hope that in the not-too-distant future that they find a cure for this syndrome.


Jay and Dina 
October 29, 2014

Our sweet baby Logan, a 6 yo female miniature schnauzer was diagnosed with this disease from hell a week ago.  She was mistakenly diagnosed with a UTI which is common but later was rushed to NC State where we got the horrific and gut wrenching news.  She received 3 blood transfusions, immunoglobulin and immunosuppressant drugs, and heparin.  Her PCV was as low as 13 but was steadily climbing to as high as 25.  Because of her progress the vet had hopes to discharge by weeks end but sadly we were notified this morning that Logan died suddenly from a probable pulmonary embolus.  This is a cruel, heartless and non discriminating disease.  She fought for 7 days and her body failed her.  We are completely devastated and grieving her loss.  There will never be another like her.


Deb 
October 9, 2014

My 17 year old Malti/Yorkie was diagnoses with IMHA 3 months ago.  She is doing pretty well now, but it was a rocky road!  She was hospitalized twice in July for transfusions.  She developed pulmonary and cardiac complications, both resolved/controlled now.  We are weaning her Prednisone, and still on Cyclosporine and aspirin.  Her red cell count seems to have plateaued at 27-28.  She is happy, eating well, and oblivious to the danger she has been in!...I am so grateful for that!!!  We continue the fight as long as she is happy to fight too! Good luck to all of you facing this daunting disease, and God bless!


Bill 
September 12, 2014

My darling dappled daschund, Tallulah, and I are now in our 6th week of fighting this insidious disease. One day she was fine and then one day she simply refused to eat. Though we did the Combs test, it was evidently a false negative, and at the advice of my vet, we immediately began an antibiotic and prednisone, even before the test results came back. Her red blood cell count has gotten as low as 12, though thank God it was 22 last week. We live from the blood draws and results from week to week. I elected to do none of the ultrasounds, transfusions, etc. - I just wanted to take her home and let nature take its course. In our case the medication therapy is beginning to work. She is a brave little fighter, and as long as she can have a decent quality of life, I will fight along with her. I sympathize with anyone who has gone through, or is going through this - be realistic, but do not give up hope. Tallulah hasn't!


Michelle Pugh 
August 25, 2014

I lost my sweet Bailee girl to this horrific illness last month. She was one month shy of her 4th birthday. She was happy, vibrant and healthy and then gone less than 48 hours later. I was (still am) devastated. It is so hard to understand, and comprehend. My heart aches for anyone who has to endure this. I only hope they find more ways to treat, diagnose and prevent this condition in the future.


Cynthia 
August 9, 2014

Heartbreaking.  Our beloved, healthy, 8 y/o GSD died within days from IMHA, after transfusion, cardiac monitor etc.  His RBCs were holding, but most likely a pulmonary embolism took him. We miss him terribly.


Leigh Schmidt 
August 8, 2014

We just had to put our beloved 10 yr old GSD Gretchen down because of IMHA. Fine one day, fighting for her life the next. Devastating!!!


Sharon 
July 30, 2014

Paula I just went through this last week. Our six year old coon hound mix was fine one day and the next she acted depressed so we took her to the vet. From there we went to 24 hr hospital specialist.  Diagnosed with IMHA she stayed there for 5 days. 3 or 4 blood transfusions with numerous test and medication. Her blood level would not stay constant and we had her put to sleep. I feel horrible maybe I should have tried something else. Maybe brought her home to die but I didn't want her to suffer.  She was the sweetest dog we've ever had.


Paula Laird 
June 9, 2014

Thank you for the insight.  I have just lost a 7 year old female poodle who had never been ill and 3 weeks earlier had a clean bill of health.  We went the treatment route at LSU, but indeed ended up with a blood clot and ending this precious dog's life.  This article puts all the information together clearly and concisely.


 


 
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