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Feb 11/2012

Last update on this fight for Dylan’s life. I do believe she has used up a couple more lives in this battle. At first I was not sure she would survive the anemia, then the frantic reductions in prednisone to save her from paralysis. I did way too much planning on ending her life, including arranging a last vet visit. I hope this is the last I will see of this ugly disease. It really takes a lot out of both of us. I have done a lot of stressful things in life, but fighting this disease is by far the most draining.

Dylan continues to get stronger and is now hopping and skipping and trying to run a little on occasion. She jumps and turns in the air while getting into her kennel for her meals. She uses her tail a lot once again, she sleeps on the couch regularly and she is always up to greet me at the door when I come home. She still risks injury due to her week musculature, but we are walking again, so that will help her get stronger.

Since Dylan became ill once again, I have helped at least a dozen dogs with new cases of IMHA. I have recently seen an 8 month old dog inflicted with this disease. Although they are in a good position for strength to fight the battles, it is sad to see such a young dog have to battle this disease. I have been told of a dog who has had 12 transfusions – yes that is 12! And I know of at least one dog we did not give up on when a vet was recommending to do so that is still with us and with his owner, who is ecstatic not to have given up on her dog!

Life can be very hard, but many times there is reward. Helping other dogs and their owners get through this hellish part of the ride is gratifying at times. Of course, the loss of life can also be heart wrenching!

Feb 1/2012

Today Dylan went for her first walk of the new year. She did not move very fast, but she did not want to go home so soon either. So nice to get her out now that her immune system is not suppressed by prednisone. I now consider this current attack in the past. The plan will be similar to that in the past. Walk a lot and gain strength and muscle and make sure she has a bit of a layer of fat to support another attack. I will continue to try and figure out what is triggering her attacks and we will avoid anything I think might be a trigger.

Jan 30/2012

Dylan continues to get stronger and we will be starting to go for walks soon to build more strength back in her muscles. I feel more confident the disease is not lurking in the background. She is such a sweetheart and really seems to love life and my company. She makes it easier to relax and enjoy life a little now, despite that lurking paranoia that something out there might cause us serious trouble again one day. Thanks to all my friends in the AIHA/IMHA community and the canine community for all your support once again! ((((Hugs)))) to you all and your pups.

Jan 27/2012

She has now been drug free for 4 days now and every day I see her return to normal. She is her happy Dog Dylan self who loves eating, loves going outside and loves sitting with me for hugs and rubs. Her enthusiasm is contagious. She bounces and turns, dancing with happiness for her food. Even a trip out into the yard warrants a little run and some hoppy skippy happy bounces. This is what I fight for! My “baby B” is alive and happy again and here to stay for awhile:-) I am so very happy to have her back.

Jan 25/2012

Tough decision today, but Dylan is making it easier for me. No more prednisone! No more immune suppression. No more side effects as she clearly gets her coordination and strength back. But my fingers are certainly all still crossed that her immune system is okay with this! I won’t know necessarily for a while as the attack could start  slowly, then gain ground. I am optimistic though that she will continue to improve, as she has in the past.

Jan 23/2012

I think Dylan is enjoying her reduced prednisone dose. Today was the first time for her on the couch this year. I always enjoy a nice surprise :-)  I have begun seeing her enthusiasm return. It is also pretty clear to me now that she suffers from an inability to move her limbs and paralysis before she actually losses her muscle strength.

Jan 21/2012

Dylan continues to do very well and is improving. Last night I decided not to give her prednisone so she is taking 5mg once a day now and should be off of it completely very soon. I can hardly wait, as we will begin going for walks again once she no longer taking it. I don’t want to take chances and expose her to the world too soon. She is such a strong spirit and truly enjoys life :-)

Still no signs of adrenal gland issues.  She seems to be handling her reductions just fine as she has in the past. Of course the fact she is not on prednisone for an extended time means her adrenal glands are more likely to kick in without issues.

Jan 19/2012

I decided not to give Dylan her 5 mg prednisone tonight. She will skip the evening dose every second day now. And now I need a calendar to keep track, but no shortage of electronic devices with a calendar here. She is doing very well, hopefully she continues to do well. I’m pretty tired still though. Eat and sleep are for me now! Sounds like Dylan although she is more eat, scrounge, pee, hound me for food, scrounge some more, then sleep.

I will have to keep an eye out for symptoms she is suffering from reduced cortisol, as she will now require her adrenal glands to produce some. This will cause her to be uncomfortable and maybe in some pain so it should be easy to see in her if they don’t kick in.

Jan 17/2012

Well, Happy Birthday Dog Dylan!!! Blood work results are in and Dylan has some awesome numbers; Hematocrit (equivalent of PCV) is .42 (42%) wooohooo, normal is above .39, and the other critical numbers like hemoglobin and rbc count are just below normal; lots of reticulocytes (immature red blood cells) and no spherocytes (destroyed rbc’s)!!!

And the drop to 2x5mg daily prednisone is showing positive results as Dylan’s greeting involved more tail wagging than I have seen in a month. I love seeing seeing the things I love about her, return.

This is a perfect present, although her Birthday was on January 8th, I’ll take this as her present any day!

Jan 16/2012

Just got back from the vet where Dylan had an exam and blood drawn for some tests. Janice thought Dylan looked great, her gums were good and so was her heart. If she were anemic her heart would have to work harder and her gums would be pale. I should get results from her blood work tomorrow, but cutting her prednisone from 10 mg to 5 mg tonight, which will help her begin to get stronger. Prognosis is looking good :-)

Still a risk especially as I drop her prednisone below a level that is required for immune suppression. This is when being able to recognize small changes in behavior is an advantage. Knowing she is getting stronger or weaker and what to look for really matters. Currently she is still relatively paralyzed from the prednisone, so I am just beginning to see some of her happy traits. Tail wagging is still infrequent, but I do see her starting to use her tail once again for balance.

Jan 14/2012

A great day for many reasons. Not too cold and a beautiful snow fall. Dylan is finally doing well after her third attack of AIHA and it seems has been given another life to enjoy. Big hugs for my “Baby B” on a Monday I was almost certain she would not see. :-) Makes me want to just curl up with her beautiful furry body.

Jan 13/2012

Thank you everyone for your prayers, healing karma and support. Although the roller coaster of IMHA is holding my joy in check, I feel like we have experienced another miracle for Dylan. I am certain her anemia is not getting worse at this time. I feel like I will be able to reduce her prednisone again sooner rather than later. This is very beneficial to Dylan and her future. Huge sigh of relief! There is still a lot of work to do for her, but I think I can get some real work done now that I feel the balance of life and death is not tilted critically against her.

Dylan is very weak, but still mobile and very food motivated. I had trouble determining if she was weaker from anemia last night, fear of worsening anemia almost made me up her dose of prednisone, but I chose not to because I decided that she would still be very weak from muscle loss, or still suffering the paralysis she has been experiencing.

Today I mostly feel that was the right decision. Tomorrow I will arrange a blood test and depending on the results I may add a full thyroid panel using Dr.Dodds lab. It is time for more information so I can decide if further prednisone reductions are possible and if supplementing her thyroid function would help regeneration of RBC’s. I have plenty of hope that she can pull through.

Jan 12/2012

Great news; I still have 4 dogs and all 4 are up hounding me for breakfast! Considering I have been preparing for only having 3, this is very sweet indeed! So far she continues to stand and may indeed be improving. It is still too soon to know for sure, especially regarding the longer range impact on her immune system and red blood cells.

Jan 11/2012

Today I am once again grateful for the very simple ability to stand! Dylan is once again up for her food, as she was yesterday. And tomorrow, I will hope for that very same capability we all take for granted. A beautiful site and worthy of some great big hugs; (((((Dylan)))))

Today we continued our quest to stop Dylan’s paralysis and muscle wasting as the first priority. She has handled 15 mg 2X per day really well. She might even be slightly better PCV wise and is still able to stand up, which is contrary to what I have been anticipating. This has left me on the high side of the emotional roller coaster today, guardedly optimistic. This morning I dropped her to 10 mg 2X/day and pray her anemia continues to be held at bay. I love my Dog Dylan :-))

So far prednisone reductions are really helping. These fast reductions are terrifying in some ways as the disease could be sitting there waiting to take over once again. Despite Dylan standing today, it is hard to feel over joyed as I don’t know if the anemia will get worse, or better. But Dylan standing is the difference between life and death, so it is of critical importance to us.

Jan 10/2012

I have been really struggling with whether to try cyclosporine to get her off prednisone. The more I read though, the less likely I am and in fact have now decided not to. Maybe if she was 10, or 5, but she is so much more frail than when we started this journey 2 years ago. I have 3 other dogs who need to get out and do things and I am around other dogs almost every day and I am certain sooner or later I will bring an infection to Dylan. Side effects of increased risk of cancer, gum disease, kidney disease, liver… just make the choice to use cyclosporine so difficult. She is old and frail and I would hate to have her struggle to the end. She has struggled from the very beginning, abused, neglected and then set free and wild for 2 months before capture. Then time at the spca. She has had a great life despite her early beginnings and vicious nature (thanks to that early beginning). I love her dearly and I don’t want to let go. We have become so close over the years.

Over the next 24-48 hours I will lower her prednisone to 10 mg 2X per day and if she remains okay, that is her anemia does not get worse again, she has a shot at pulling through. Since her PCV is still mid 20’s, recovery is less likely than is slipping back. She is very weak from muscle loss and it is very hard now for her to stand, but she is still able to. She is now at the point though where she tries to do things she is no longer capable of and if I am not here to help, she can and will hurt herself. Things like rolling over, or even just getting in or out of her kennel are now very risky as not all of her body follows the lead. Tough to watch and tough to be here always for her. She managed to get on the couch while I was out yesterday after 2 days of failed attempts. Getting off scares the crap out of me. She still wants to jump instead of using the steps. So many little things we take for granted normally, are mountains for her and so risky. I would hate to come home and find her trapped with a broken leg… So I continue to pray for a miracle. It has happened before, so maybe just one more soon.

Jan 6/2012

My heart is breaking! I am fairly certain her lack of recovery is not a lack of iron or vitamin B. She has the same diet as before and she recovered quickly both times previously without supplements. I could tell from the beginning that this attack was harder than the 2nd one. The situation is more complicated than simply money and the cost of cyclosporine. I have already sacrificed so much, from my future and that of my other dog’s. I finally started treating Stevie Ray for her arthritis, which I had stopped for Dylan. My pups were to be trained to win a world championship in dog agility, but for the last 2 years could not train them due to time and cognitive difficulties as a result of saving Dylan previously. My ability to earn an income is completely dependent on my cognitive abilities and the constant care and lack of sleep make it impossible to work.I spent every penny I had the first time, not on vet bills which would have been covered by insurance if I had it, but on lost income due to being unable to think and work, which are not covered by any pet insurance. I never want to give up on Dylan, but I need the disease to let go.

I do have serious trouble with adding immune suppressant drugs given their side effects, but this is not the complete issue. The real issue is how much more should everyone else here sacrifice for Dylan. If I had help here, a full time caretaker and of course the finances to go with it, the decision would be easier. But I don’t have help, nor the funds to buy it. Maybe a miracle? But I don’t view the end of life on earth as the end of our relationship. Dylan, like Jagger before her, will always be with me. Like with Jagger, Dylan has brought me world of new friends. She has completely changed who I am and what is important to me. Although it makes me very sad to think of losing her, it is not the end of our relationship. And if things don’t improve for her, there is nothing for her here and maybe God wants her in heaven and maybe it is better for her to be at peace with God and not here suffering just to stay with me? Life is complicated, decisions are difficult. I will talk to my vet tomorrow and I will continue to try and save Dylan. I love her deeply, but too much to force her to stay here with me at any cost.

Jan 2/2012

Although I came home to a pee soaked bed thanks to prednisone, after being out for 5 hours (which was unavoidable); I came home to Dylan standing up on the arm of my couch to greet me at the door (1st time in 2 weeks), wagging her tail. Yes, wagging her tail! which I have not seen much in the last 2 weeks! She is carrying it higher as she goes out for pee, and wagging it when excited :-))

Jan 1/2012

Spent today mostly hanging out with Dylan, massaging and petting her, feeding her and doing her laundry, making sure she gets lots of water and gets safely out to pee, making sure everywhere she goes is well lit. Everything is much harder for her to do these days, so I do my best to make it easier for her.



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  17 Responses to “Fighting For Dylan – Surviving Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia / Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia 2013”

  1. Hi Richard –

    I came across your blog while researching IMHA. I don’t see any recent updates, so I am curious how your Dylan is doing? Did you decide on Immunosuppressants?

    My dachshund Sue has been battling this terrible disease since we were diagnosed just after Christmas, though we suspect it began prior to. When she first presented in ER because of a fainting episode, her RBC was only 10. After a transfusion we got her up to 21, and it has been up and down since then. She’s had two transfusions total, and her highest RBC was 28 last Thursday. I was disappointed to learn yesterday that she had fallen 7 points, down to 21.

    At this point the vet has her Cyclosporine, Imuran, Sulcralfate, Pepcid, and Vitamin Supplements. We’ve avoided Prednisone because Sue has a heart defect and they’re concerned about potentially causing her conhestive heart failure. I’ve spent so much money on tests that have revealed no cause, and medication that I’m not even sure is helping. After yesterday’s drop, they want me to see an Internal Med Specialist. At this point I am so uncertain of what I should be doing.

    Sue is my furry daughter and my first dog (I was always a cat person before her). I was never prepared for the bond that developed between us, and I certainly never thought I would be dealing with the uncertainty of my dog’s life at only 8 years old. It’s definitely been an emotional and financial stress that I don’t think my friends and family really understand. It’s scary to think that my sweet, normally happy, and loving girl could lose this battle.

    It’s sad to learn so many dogs suffer and lose their lives to this.


    • Hi Melissa,

      If you are on Facebook, I can suggest a couple of support groups that can offer help. I have been meaning to update Dylan’s status, but she turned the corner just before becoming fully paralyzed from the prednisone and returned to 42 within a few days. This is much like the other 2 attacks.

      It sounds like Sue is so far non-regenerative and this can be because full immune suppression has not occurred, and/or her body is not building RBC’s yet. If the attack is in the bone marrow, attacking them at an earlier stage it is tough to stop. Diet will also be important and I suggest you find some beef heart and start feeding lots of it to her. Don’t over cook it, but it should be cooked unless you already feed a raw diet.

      Also hummus, chic pea, has a lot of iron as well. Or maybe some turnip greens puree/ or cooked a bit.

      I can also suggest you contact Dr.Dodds of Hempopet. Many interrnal med specialists don’t like her, but it would usually be because they think they should know everything and if they don’t they think no one else does. This is unfortunate because no one knows much and most are guessing. I have seen 6 or more transfusions done, but cost can be prohibitive. I could not do it and was fortunate Dylan turned the corner in each of her 3 attacks, but her 1st was probably as low as PCV 6.

      I decided not to do immune suppressants, but they do have value for some, however they are unpredictable in whether they will work. there are others used too, but immuran takes approximately 2 weeks to kick in, cyclosporine is faster, a few days maybe, but if the attack is in the bone marrow, then more time may be required. Make sure your sucralfate is well before or well after the immune suppressants, as it will prevent absorption if given too closely. Prednisone does put so much stress on their heart so it is likely a valid concern.

      White blood cells and red blood cells are both produced, along with platelets, in the bone marrow. I have seen dogs take a few weeks to truly stop the disease,because the environment is a little tougher to penetrate and the attacking cells are on the inside with rbc’s and platelets. I have also seen dogs not improve due to the drugs they are on.

      Sometimes it just takes time and until they produce their own rbc’s their pcv will go down after transfusions, but this does give the drugs more time to act. The rbc’s are not produced over night either.

      I am assuming they tested for tick disease, as she is not on Doxycillan (antibiotic) and toxins like zinc and other heavy metals.

      I would not give up yet. But i understand your choices and i have faced Dylan’s imminent death on several occasions, but the fact is there is still hope Sue will respond to treatment. Try to stay positive, it will most certainly help her more.

      I didn’t spend a lot on tests or vet bills, but lost income while not working was huge over the last 2 years. But it is worth it and I see that every day. Many have to make difficult choices that include financial implications and even my decision not to use cyclosporine in small part included the cost versus benefit, or in my csse, time consumption and vet time consumption.

      But really it is always about how she feels and as long as she is just week from anemia, that is not painful, but stomach/GI issues, infections, organ trouble were not something I wanted to put my 12 year old dog through as they can be in considerable pain, or feeling extremely crappy at some point. Younger, yes I might.

      For more support and help search Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia on Facebook and ask to join the group. There is a smaller group called “Canine Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia” And if you are not on facebook, the Vetnet forum can be a great help too. There is a link in my post of Dylan’s first attack. Email me too if that is easier, richard @ (remove the spaces). I would be happy to keep helping, I know how tough it is. Best of luck and keep me posted.

      I will update Dylan’s story soon, but she is doing well and is getting stronger and is off all meds once again.

  2. Your blog is really helping me out. My little Shi-Tzu Gizmo was diagnosed on friday the 15th of february 2013. He passed out will going out to pee on that morning. He will be 12 years old in a few weeks. Right now he is weak and any prolonged effort makes him pass out. Started meds Pednisone & Azathioprine on friday but he was sick this morning (sunday) and vomited last nights supper. Im sad this morning, pretty emotional but Dylans story is giving hope. I have 3 other dogs also who keep Gizmo company while he is resting. Will stick with the treatment and we are going back to the Vet tomorrow to check his blood.

    Thanks !

    • Hi Luc,

      Sorry to hear about Gizmo; it is a tough disease but many do make it. Unfortunately I can’t say all do and in fact it has been a tough week on the Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. And Canine Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia Facebook support groups. I recommend you join one or both of them as there are others there who can help too. Email me at Richard @ (remove the spaces). I know how tough it can be. If you have any specific questions, I will try to answer them. In the meantime though I wish you all the luck in the world to go with great veterinary care. They have a tough time with immune suppressants like Azathioprine. I strongly suggest pepcid ac (famotidyne) before meals and I would try to give the meds separate from meals if you can or they may associate the sick feelings with eating and their food. Also, lots of Milk Thistle to help their liver through this. If the hey are on a stomach protectant such as sucralfate, this must be given completely separately from the meds as it prevents absorption.. Good luck, I sure hope Gizmo finds his way through this.

      • Thank you for your kind words Richard. Alas our poor little Gizmo did not react well to either the treatment or the disease and his condition deteriorated very fast on sunday to the point he was struggling to catch his breath. We decided as a family to put him down. A very tough decision. We are filled with grief and remorse and we wish we would have a little more time to say goodbye. We have had him as a puppy and was soon to be 12 years old. We took very good care of him and he loved us back tenfold in return. Such a gentle creature, its not fair.

        Let this be a lesson not to take this terrible condition lightly.Thank you for this blog and support and I wish you and Dylan the best.

        • Sorry for your loss, it is a terrible disease and the drugs used to treat it seem equally terrible to many. Unfortunately the disease seems to rip away the most precious souls, but I hope Gizmo’s spirit finds a happy place in your heart, full of the best memories. I know how tough it is to lose a dog you are close to so suddenly, but really there is no good way to lose them. It has been a tough week for many, after witnessing this disease take half a dozen dogs and a precious cat as well. Once again, so sorry for your loss.

  3. My dog was recently diagnosed with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia I noticed she was not herself on monday and by wensday she was getting worse and I knew i had to take her to the vet thats when they told me she had Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia and the vet gave her a dexamethasone injection and then sent me home with 20 mg prednisone that she has to take 1 and a half tablets every 12 hours and and then one 50mg azathioprine a say and then one 20 mg famotidine every 12 hours my questions is do you think she is taking to much cause it was making her sick and she hasn’t been eating so I took her back to the vet and they took another blood test and she was at 15 and they said if she drops to ten she wont make it so do you have any advice or tips or anything really on what i need to do or how I can save my baby she is a recused pitbull mix and she is only 2 yrs and I don’t want to loose her so any advice would be appreciated

    • Hi Crista, I have not seen you back on Facebook yet, where I initially saw your post on the IMHA group. I hope this is not a sign of something negative. I will post my comments here too, but there are many offering help on your IMHA post.

  4. Hi, my bulldog (5 yrs old ) was diagnosed with IMHA on 10/4/13 we took him to the vet when we had noticed over a week he had become less active and refused his Dinner, His RBC was less than 6 – we rushed himt o the animal hospital and he was given a transfusion, that night his RBC wa 19 and then it continued to drop around 2 points every second day until the 21/4 when it reached 12, we then took Brixton back to hospital for his 2nd transfusion. he reached RBC 25 after transfusion had droped to 23 on the 24/4 and then down to 15 on the 29/4 last nigh he has started to go ff his food and has developed diaheria, no vomiting – just lathargic, brixton has not lost conciousness at all through out this whole period or had trouble walking etc.

    he is currently on Prednisone, Cyclosporine & Azathioprine, and Royal canin gastro intestianl diet with boiled chicken and rice.

    i can not afford another transfusion and i know his RBC levels are dangeriously low: My question is sould i try feeding him chicken hearts, chic peas (high iron diet) to help him rather than the prescription diet he is now not liking?
    is their anything else i can do?
    i she in pain from low IMHA, i dont want to give up on my little man, but feel as though he is getting tired of fighting this …..

    many thanks in adavnce.

    • Sorry for not seeing this sooner, but I have been battling the disease here at home. There are many things I would say, but I have to a bit later. I hope your pup is still hanging in their. I would absolutely change the food. Processing the garbage in dog food takes a lot out of them., especially thw specialty diets. The diahrea and vomiting are because of two immunosuppressive drugs in addition to prednisone. These things are very hard and rhe ore you use rhe harder they are. Also you cannot know what stopped it. They may also be preventing recovery and they certainly will if they go off food. Do another transfusion, buy more time. I can help with diet. More later.

    • I absolutely recommend beef heart, preferably grass fed, chic pea, absolutely, rice is garbage, boiled fish, maybe boiled eggs, add a little butter if it helps. Food that is appetizing.

  5. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read through articles from other authors and use something from other sites.

  6. My 9 year old Boston Terrier died Thursday night from this. It is so good to see stories of the dogs that survive this horrible disease. My Sweetums was diagnosed last Saturday. On Friday she had been prfectly fine, playing, eating, running. By that eveneing she looked as if she had somthing wrong with her back leg and then just didn’t want to eat. Saturday morning we dropped her at the vet so they could run tests and see what it was, I then got the call that her RBC was 12 and she needed a blood transfusion. We took her to the hospital and after her 2nd infusion that night she was up to a RBC of 30 Sunday. We took her home and she wasnt herself yet and wouldn’t eat. We had to syringe feed her just to give her the meds. Monday morning she ended up back in the hospital. By Tuesday night her RBC was back down to 14. We took her home and kept her on the meds and syringe feeding her but her body just wouldn’t respond to it. She took a turn for the worst Thursday night and couldn’t breathe, We had no choice at that point but to put her down. This was the hardest thing we have ever had to do. They need to find why this happens to dogs out of nowhere. My little girl had been on an antibiotic for 13 days when this suddenly came on.

    • Hi, sorry to hear about your loss. I know all too well how hard this disease is. I am a strong believer that somehow suddenly dogs develop an issue to toxins they are incorporating into their red blood cells. In many it is from something they breathe or ingest or are given. Was anything else given before or after the antibiotics? Like flea meds, or vaccines? In my experience, even pesticides and herbicides they encounter in the yard or while out walking, even from great distances and in small quantities can trigger the attacks. Once again, I am so very sorry for your loss. This disease can be very ugly and tough to stop, but it is possible for some to survive. Dylan has now survived 5 times.

  7. Wow what a story of Dylan- you are an amazing parent for him. very inspiring.
    I am writing about my 5 year only Pomeranian “Summer” who has been nothing but an absolute joy in our lives. My husband and I were not able to have children and she is truly a daughter to us. She was diagnosed 3 weeks ago with this horrendous disease and we are fighting it with all we have. When we brought her to the vet she had a blood count of only 10 and immediately admitted her to the hospital for transfusion. She was doing really good for a while blood went up to 31 then only down to 28 recently down to 23. she is on Pred and Azathioprine for the last few weeks. we are pampering her to the max, just put her on probiotics. Anyone had success with that? they are now talking specialist and bone marrow tests and it is all overwhelming. any advise is appreciated. I keep going over in my mind, was it flea and tick applications, an immunization gone wrong, did she eat something strange outside? I try not to dwell but she has been nothing but cared for and spoiled her whole little life and I do not want to think about her leaving us. thank you for letting us post and for all the information about your Dylan.

  8. My dog who was two months shy of 11, died from this on Tuesday. It was so unexpected and devastating. I noticed on Friday she didn’t want a treat which was strange, them she threw up during the night, all Saturday she didn’t want to move but I just thought she had an upset stomach, By Sunday I was forcing water down her throat and took her to vet Monday morning were they diagnosed her, hooked her up to IV and started prednisone. I had high hopes till I came home and researched it. I got the call the next morning that she had passed away. Now on top of being devastated, I’m having guilt of maybe if I had taken her to vet sooner ? how much pain was she in? She died without me being there?

    • Hi Shelley,

      First, I am so very sorry for your loss. IMHA is horrible and claims many dogs. This year is the worst yet that I have seen in the last three years for the number of cases. I am guessing at least three or four times more often if not more, do I see new cases in the support groups I help other people and their dogs through.

      You can probably put aside your guilt if you can. You did not fail, this disease can be sudden and it is very deadly. Almost no one who loses a dog, or whose dog becomes seriously ill and severely anemic from the immune system attack, knows about the disease and the symptoms to watch for before it struck their dog down. I now have seen hundreds of cases. The acute cases like your dog’s and my Dylan’s rarely survive, unfortunately. There is an Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs Facebook group I help with that might be a good place to go and learn more.

      Most people have no idea how serious refusal to eat can be as a symptom. I happened to also see red pee and that immediately was strikingly wrong. I still held off going to emergency as I hated that hospital and called my own vet the next morning first thing. My vet happened to be very familiar with this disease and diagnosed it pretty much immediately, but not all are. Like you, I was worried when my dog hesitated to eat as she never does that so I was actually watching her for other symptoms. I can tell you that she was probably not in pain at all. Anemia makes them tired and dying from it is pretty much the same as being euthanized. There might be confusion at times, which I did see, but Dylan almost died on my floor and she was never in pain. Through all six of her attacks she has never been in pain, just very weak, unable to walk and at some point during the first attack, unable to drink, eat or even stand up (and I have lost dogs to cancer where the effect on respiration did cause suffering and difficulty breathing). I have now seen a lot of dogs go through this and only if there are other issues causing it, like cancer, or pancreatitis or other infections do dogs experience pain. And the way you describe the acute onset, it is likely a reaction to some toxin they possibly inhaled or ate…

      I can say that I believe very strongly that yard care chemicals, herbicides (weed killers) and or pesticides most certainly triggered Dylan’s acute attacks. From experience I am also certain that vaccines and other preventative measures like flea and tick control drops… also cause this disease. Maybe the one good thing that can come from this is your awareness for when you decide to get another dog. I feed my dogs very differently now due to the use of Genetically Modified Organisms used in food and the “RoundUp” they are saturated with, I vaccinate more carefully (check out Dr. Dodds online, search her name and “Vaccination protocol”), I don’t use flea or tick meds on my dogs, rather I use natural substances, I don’t use yard care products, like fertilizers and “Weed ‘N Feed” products…, and I don’t use toxic in house cleaning supplies, just water and maybe baking soda and/or vinegar, even my laundry soap is all coconut based.

      Once again, I am so sorry you had to learn of this disease with the loss of your precious dog.

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