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Mar 202012
Dog Dylan - 1 year post AIHA

I had a productive day yesterday despite several intense flashbacks and emotional moments thanks to the 1 year anniversary of Dylan’s Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) diagnosis. It sure was an intense roller coaster ride of emotion and certainly life changing for both of us. I am so glad for each good day and every great moment.

Soft and cuddly Dylan, and certainly happy. I love her her dearly!

Today I started experiencing panic attacks as I get vivid, extremely real flashes of her unable to get up and her panic and desperation (mine too). Our roller coaster ride of emotion seems so real. I was certain she would die a year ago! It feels like yesterday. Then back to reality, so happy to hug her, sleeping in again, no AIHA in sight. Amazing how vivid memory can be.

Why do the little things matter?

Sleeping in means Dylan’s Red Blood Cells are not being attacked today. She is not getting rid of protein and drawing water with it (osmosis), making her need to pee early in the morning and then dehydrated and thirsty. She normally sleeps in and waits for breakfast to get up, unlike the rest of us who are outside immediately each day.

Pee is translucent yellow, meaningless to some? Not at all to us as it means her Red Blood Cells are not being attacked today! This was the scariest thing I saw in that first day during her first attack and a sign her puking earlier in the day was part of a serious problem.

Taking a poop in the back yard; meaningless? Not at all! It means Dylan is not anemic and has the strength to hold herself in that unbalanced awkward position that she has so much trouble with when anemic. When anemic, she cannot stay steady and waits for my help to steady her. Then she suffers blackouts as she finishes, stands up and leaves, referred to as “Syncope.” It seems taking a poop is a difficult task requiring strength and coordination, not to be taken for granted by us.

Hanging out for breakfast or dinner means nothing? Again, not at all, as it means everything! It means she is strong, excited and has an appetite to eat. Loss of appetite was the first symptom I noticed in the first attack. Considering she normally has a voracious appetite for her raw meals, this sent out an immediate alarm to me a year ago and caused me to watch her more closely. I saw her pee dark red that night as a result.

Eating breakfast? So basic, but so important! When they lose their ability to eat, or lift their head to eat, it becomes one of the most important things I see every day. Her exuberant excitement to jump into place for her breakfast and dinner makes my day a great day, every day!

Pink gums, so simple and hardly even thought of as anything by most, but pale means anemia and with brown patches means dead Red Blood Cells. I hope the signs I see earlier will help prevent me from ever seeing this again.

Drinking water? A basic task! Have you ever seen a dog who cannot drink water because they do not have the strength in their muscle to curl their tongue? Pale, not at all pink due to the lack of Red Blood Cells and hemoglobin and extremely week as a result, they cannot even capture water and must work endlessly just for a little drink? So hard to watch!

Tail Wagging? One of my favorite traits of all in dogs, but it too disappears as anemia sets in. Head down, ears down, tail down can be a very scary sight around here.

And to this very second I am extremely grateful for the events that lead us to become friends on Facebook with our friend Maureen Sanderson (and her dog Mercedes, an AIHA survivor too) shortly before Dylan became ill. I cannot tell you how much her help meant through those first few days especially. I think we would have been so lost without it, thanks (((Maureen&Mercedes))) :-)

And thanks to ALL my other friends too. Something again we take for granted, but those days a year ago and this entire last year would not have been the same without the help I have received. Thank You all!!! (((everyone)))

So many things our dogs do, that we rarely even notice or think about, yet every single one of them can be lost in an instant, as can life itself, so please throw away the frustration in your life and enjoy every little thing you see and enjoy every moment you spend with your dogs.  I have seen it all lost and I can’t tell you personally how much it means to me to see each and every little thing they do so I can enjoy it with them.

I Love My Dogs and Every Moment With them!




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  2 Responses to “Why Do the Little Things Matter in Your Dog?”

  1. I just lost my dog, Dutchie, an 8 year old black/white pitbull. She became ill this past Good Friday, she didnt want to go for a walk the following Saturday, and wasn’t eating. Threw up that afternoon, I offered her water all day long, and brought her dish to her. Slept much of Saturday, Apr 7th. She usually slept under a comforter that was on her bed but this night she was too hot and slept on top of the comforter. Reason being she had a fever but I didnt know that until she was admitted to Tufts Veterinary Hospital in Grafton Massachusetts. He temp was 106.7 at 6PM. She was jaundice, had a limp that I noticed before we brought her and was very lethargic. My husband carried her into the hospital. The admitted her, did blood work and while waiting for the results determined that she was significantly anemic and dehydrated. They diagnosed her with IMHA and she underwent a blood transfusion, she appeared better, strong, and her tail was wagging and her urine was blood-free. The next day they administered heavy duty medications, along with cancer medications because they thought she had an underlying leukemia. Anyway, she was unresponsive to all of the drugs and her blood count was down to 5 even after the blood transfusion. Her red blood cells were depleated and her white blood cells were elavated and subsequently passed away on Tuesday, at 3PM. Alive, happy and running around on Friday, and gone by Tuesday. I’m so heartbroken that I barely function during the day. I’ve been trying to figure out how this happened. Even though I noticed the signs right away it was to late for her? And how did she get IMHA. The causes of this disease are not really known. Do you ever wonder how your dog contacted this disease? Thank you, Robin Scott

    • Hi Robin,

      First of all, let me apologize. I am so sorry for not seeing this sooner. I changed computers and have been away and very busy in the last few weeks and neglected to sign in and check. I am also so very sorry for your loss :-( IMHA is a nasty disease! I have written previously about how we have no control. We can only do our best and we usually operate in a vacuum, not knowing anything about the disease.

      For the Love & Death of our Dogs

      It is so much easier to look back and see things we might of missed, or question ourselves and what we did, or did not do. But the situation is immensely difficult and we are completely blind at first, so I think you can forgive yourself now. IMHA took your Dutchie and there are many in things in this world to blame for IMHA, but I can promise you that you are not one of them when you could not know better, or even have any power to stop the progress of IMHA.

      It can attack so fast and in some cases can be very difficult to stop. Since you were treating Leukemia I can probably assume the IMHA was likely non-regenerative, that is in the bone marrow and killing developing blood cells. Although it can be stopped, several transfusions are often required. Drugs take time, especially when the disease is in the bone marrow. During my dog Dylan’s first attack, she almost died on my floor here, although regenerative, the attack was very fast. The second attack I was able to see signs sooner and act faster and I even saw things that I now l know are signs and can see the disease start 2-3 days sooner than before. there is no way to know these things in the fist week or so of the attack unless your vet does and many know very little about this disease and how to treat it, especially the difficult cases like in your Dutchie’s case.

      As for what causes or triggers the disease there are multiple scenarios and in fact may be multiple diseases. In my Dog Dylan’s case, we do not know what caused it. She came a whisker from death, also very sudden. 50% or more of the cases are idiopathic, that is, no known cause is ever determined. Many though are related to toxins of some sort either alone, like in some of the heavy metals, and others like vaccines that may or may not require other chemicals to be given a the same time. Some I know are fairly sure it followed vaccination.

      I am very sorry for your loss Robin, but please accept that there was nothing you could have done, mourn the loss of your companion Dutchie and hopefully some happy memories will return.

      I am writing a guide that still has mostly my personal experience, but if you want ot add something, or comment , please do.

      My Guide to Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia/Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia – Draft

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