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Mar 192015

Four years and six attacks later (diagnosed March 19, 2011), Dylan at the age of 14 is still hanging in there and loving life. I have learned a lot about treating her IMHA attacks quickly and efficiently, with the least impact on her possible. And I have learned a great deal about preventing them and what I believe is the cause of her attacks. Since January 8, 2014 Dylan has been free from medication. She has been isolated in my back yard since December 23, 2013, only leaving it in my van to go to Mosquito Creek Veterinary Clinic to get her nails done. Her last attack is now a year and three months ago on December 23, 2013.

Although I have a pretty good idea of what triggers her attacks, there is plenty I don’t know about what other factors have contributed to her condition. Her last two attacks I pretty much saw the events that led to her illness 5-6 days after exposure. At the time of both, my hypothesis was weed killer, however, wasp killer and possibly many different pesticides are potential triggers in her case. But I am certain the attacks are triggered by her inhaling the toxic substances from the ground, which I suspect is especially bad in mornings with the evaporation of the morning dew.

It is possible there are other abnormal factors, such as fer early vaccinations with combo vaccines, given while also spayed and de-wormed (a very bad combination) and possibly a genetic predisposition, but as I have written previously;, I do present a theory of a normal response to what her body considers a foreign invader.

Evolution of her response is not adequate for the innovation of mankind. Our creation of a multitude of pesticides and chemical treatments and genetic modifications in the plants we grow as the core of our food supply and the resulting changes to our biology and genetic expression that result; and potentially most important, the chemical purification of a toxic micro-genome in the gastrointestinal tracts of animals such as our dogs and ourselves. The food we feed ourselves and our dogs is critical. As is the quality of the air we and our dogs breathe, remembering that a dog’s nose is much more specialized and very close to the ground and the environment that surrounds it.

What goes in their nose, goes through their bodies just as what goes in their mouth goes through them. Everything that goes through our dogs, including the water they drink, matters and is critical to both the good health required to prevent illness and the ability to recover from events that challenge the balance and integrity of the body.

I think these factors are all critical. So prevention must take all of this in mind. And this is the approach I have taken for Dylan and for myself and my other dogs. The quality of the water we drink, the food we eat relative to our unique needs, and the air we breathe are all factors that contribute to our overall health, in addition to psychological factors such as thinking, that is challenging the mind, and social interactions with other people and other dogs. And this doesn’t mean my dogs must play with other dogs. It means they must be able to interact with them in a reasonable way and interact with people in a positive way as well.

Unfortunately, isolation limits some of Dylan’s interactions with other dogs; however, she does have a crew of three other pooches here that she is constantly interacting with. She has neighbors who love to say high and friends who drop over occasionally. It is pretty obvious how much she enjoys people. A striking contrast to the original Dylan that came into our home. Afraid of all people and dogs.

Now dogs don’t bother her and she loves people. She bounces outside to see them. She can’t run, but she sure tries, bouncing from her front legs to her back in happy arcs, but never really leaving the ground. Despite four years of many drastic and life threatening events, anemia, ischemia, paralysis or a desperate struggle just to move, she still clearly loves the simple pleasures that life brings her.

I see joy in her and because of it I keep working hard to keep her healthy; to keep toxicity out of her body and to give her the healthiest diet I can. And she continues to survive and thrive, despite the ravages of multiple challenges with prednisone.

Even her immune system continues to be healthy. It kills her effectively and consistently when she breathes pesticides. Nothing else makes her sick and like my other dogs, despite the rats in our neighborhood that carry disease and fleas, she never has fleas and is never ill. She does have bouts of vertigo which are likely attributable to the IMHA and prednisone related side effects (accelerated effects of aging) and which includes her low thyroid output and has become worse after the attacks. Fortunately the latter is easily treated and we just deal with her bouts of instability.

I wouldn’t call her immune system compromised like one generally thinks of in individuals treated for autoimmune disease. She has never been given any of the non steroid immune suppressants which do wreak havoc on the immune system and cause it to fail. And when she has had prednisone, I get rid of it as quickly as I can, which was 17 days total during her last attack.

Overall I think this approach has been very beneficial to Dylan. I have fed her a raw, hand made and well balanced species appropriate diet of human grade ingredients throughout all six attacks and the immune suppression caused by prednisone. She has never been ill throughout the last four years since diagnosis and despite having had open bed sores inches across form being unable to move in her bed, they did not get infected and were not treated with antibiotics.

So at 14 years of age, after four years fighting to survive and six deadly IMHA attacks; Dylan happily soldiers on, ignoring any loss she has experienced, totally focused on enjoying the moment! As a dog should be! I have learned a lot from her and I fight for her right to live on!




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  2 Responses to “Dog Dylan Today, March 19 2015, 4 years with IMHA!”

  1. I found your blogs on-line and have enjoyed reading them. I am going through the exact same thing with my 9 year old dog. Last Fall was her first bout with IMHA, and she recovered fairly nicely as we caught it right away. She tapered off pred and all was good. This past April, she had a swollen leg. It turned out we had another autoimmune issue. Her platelets were being attacked and was bleeding internally after playing with some dogs. Here we went again…. although this time it was much more serious. We did every treatment we could under the sun. The medications were just KILLING her. Cyclosporine is AWFUL. It make her more ill. I had to call my vet almost every other day. I think they thought I was nuts, but she was NOT well. Her numbers were up and normal, so we took her off Cyclosporine and kept her on 30 mg of pred only she got better for one week. Then suddenly she started to seem really lethargic again; a follow up test now showed her red cells were dropping, but very borderline. I also told the vet that her back legs were becoming very weak. She seemed like her muscles were wasting away. They thought it was due to the drop in red cells, but I really didn’t think so. I was certain it was the dose of pred causing this. They continued to tell me that it’s not a typical side effect of prednisone. After reading blogs like yours, I completely disagree. At this point she can’t even jump up on the couch, or into the car to go to her visits. She walks up stairs slowly…. she’s just weak. We are reducing her pred down to 20 mg a day now, so I’m hoping to see an improvement with her strength. We go on 30 minute walks each morning and she is OK, but get’s a little tired. I’m trying to make sure her legs stay strong and build some muscle back. Even her head seems more pointed, as if muscle is wasting away there too. Her collar is very loose as well. She weighs about the same, but I think it’s more fat on her than muscle right now.

    We have no idea what is triggering this in her. It breaks our heart. It’s a very difficult disease to manage. I almost relate the trigger to using flea and tick treatment on her. Both times this happened I gave it to her just 2 days prior to her becoming ill.

    Thank you for your stories…. it gives me hope that we can beat this. Has your vet ever thought Dylan should stay on a maintenance dose of prednisone since she has had so many attacks?

    • Hi Kathy,

      Sorry for not responding right away. I would like to answer the last question first and it relates to the events that have followed this post of mine. Unfortunately, on March 28th, I said goodbye to Dylan. She suddenly lost the ability to control her hind legs a few days earlier, very likely due to a deteriorating lumbar disc in her spine. ‎

      Although I do know there were many contributing factors to the long term deterioration in her spine, some well before IMHA and prednisone, it was always obvious that prednisone was evil to her life. Necessary, absolutely! But through my experience with it and my ex wife’s Crohn’s Disease, and even more so with Dylan and what it did during treatment, I always had to stop it as soon as possible.

      I have thought about maintenance doses and preventing the attacks as a choice and chosen not to. Really, I don’t think such a low dose would have prevented her attacks. A lot of what we see from Vets is based on fear and many conclusions drawn are a result of fear and have no foundation in fact.

      After years of watching, I still have not concluded that maintenance doses do anything because dogs still get sick. Some stop getting sick, but we really don’t know if the immune system did it on its own, the prednisone is doing something, or exposure to the cause hasn’t been seen since.

      I think all of the above occur. Shortly before Dylan died a close friend, the first person to come to my aid when Dylan first got sick, had her dog suddenly relapse. And I use that term very loosely because personally I don’t believe that this is a disease in any way. I believe it is the result of toxicity.

      Yes there are bilogical factors like genetic susceptibility. But in Dylan’s case I saw acute poisoning due to exposure and that is what I treated. Knowing I could stop attacks quickly was a huge factor in not using maintenance doses. ‎ The fact is if I had used maintenance doses after attacks, ‎it is not at all clear that I would have done anything other than cause her body and spine specifically to deteriorate faster and her death would have occurred sooner. There is no way to know which path would have been better but I knew what Suki felt about it. Get rid of prednisone as fast as you can!!! Always! It didn’t matter how bad things were for her either. ‎ ‎This link doesn’t come up at the top of the URL’s provided from a search these days but it did earlier and to me it is still the most useful link I found on prednisone use in dogs and the symptoms it can cause.

      Dylan followed the symptoms in order pretty much. Cushing’s Disease is a condition caused by excessive cortisol, the natural hormone in the body that prednisone replaces. The body shuts down production of cortisol (which is why you need to understand how to remove it when stopping it)‎, but the symptoms of excessive cortisol and Cushing’s from prednisone use (Iatrogenic Cushing’s) are similar, but vary significantly in each dog.

      Dylan was very reactive and my Vets initially didn’t believe Dylan’s loss of hind end coordination, subsequent muscle loss and paralysis (four weeks and she was unable to get up or walk, pretty much) was prednisone induced. They most certainly did after I pushed them beyond comfort to remove it and save Dylan from its effects. They believe me now. They let me handle prednisone dose in all five subsequent attacks and always stood with me and advised me despite how I pushed and disagreed at times. (I love them for all they did and my most recent post here states exactly why).

      So yes, it can and does cause the symptoms you are seeing. Many are recoverable. Damage to cartilage and bone, not so much, but loss of neuro-muscular control and muscle loss, yes they can.

      But it is definitely a sign that they are very reactive and probably don’t need as high a dose as the average dog.

      All five subsequent attacks I used less to stop them. Half worked faster. And in each I removed it faster after shorter treatment periods and learned acute exposure was the cause.

      As for the reduction in symptoms, it took a few reductions before I saw the loss of negative side effects. It is certainly difficult to balance reduction of anemia and suppression of the immune system with the negative side effects.

      And cause, or triggers, that is another very difficult thing to figure out. Many times it is not obvious and there is no clear trigger. But any dog eating dog food has a lifetime of ingesting toxic weed killers from genetically modified foods used to make them so it is impossible to tell what might be the cause.

      But each dog and each case can be so different. I certainly hope you are gaining ground. Unfortunately it is not a simple disease nor is the fight a simple one, but I am personally very grateful for the four years I had with Dylan after she was diagnosed, despite the continuous hell I had to go through.


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