IMHA is an auto-immune reaction that results in severe anemia because the immune system destroys your dog’s red blood cells. The survival rate is low—a dog needs quick and aggressive treatment to make it.
Most of the time, you might never find out what caused it. Certain conditions can trigger the reaction, such as an infection, cancer, or drug reaction. The question of whether vaccination can be a contributing factor is controversial. It is, however, logical to suspect a connection when the time frame suggests that. You might, however, avoid further vaccinations when your dog recovered from IMHA.
Some breeds are more likely to suffer immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, including:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Irish Setters
Further information: Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) in Dogs and Cats
What does IMHA look like?
Symptoms of immune-mediated hemolytic anemia can start subtly but quickly worsen. Signs of IMHA in dogs include:
- loss of appetite
- reduced activity
- pale gums
- dark urine
Jazmine was a 3-year-old female Weimaraner. She is an IMHA survivor.
Jazmine became ill quite quickly. She became weak and had a hard time breathing over a short period of time. Her parents rushed Jazmine to a veterinarian.
The family veterinarian diagnosed Jazmine right away. But because of the aggressive treatment she needed, he referred her to a specialty hospital. The attending veterinarian discovered that Jazmine’s immune system was not only destroying her red blood cells but also her platelets. So now, Jazmine had a double-whammy. Not only she was losing blood cells, she was also susceptible to internal bleeding.
Jazmine is critical
IMHA alone is life-threatening—Jazmine’s situation was even more dangerous. The veterinarians began treatment immediately. They started Jazmine on a powerful combo of immune-suppressive medications and blood transfusion. If she could survive the first night, she might make it.
Fortunately, Jazmine responded to the treatment well. Not only she survived the night but showed improvement by morning.
After several days, Jazmine was doing well enough to be able to go home. She has to remain on medications for life. But, after her acute ordeal was over, Jazmine was able to return to a normal, active life.
Sadly, more dogs succumb to IMHA than survive. A quick diagnosis and state-of-the-art aggressive treatment improve their chances. Therefore, the sooner you recognize a problem and get your dog to a veterinarian, the better their chances are. A dog can recover from IMHA and go on to live a happy life.
Understanding the symptoms helps you recognize when your dog’s life is in danger and get timely help.
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia: IMHA
Changes in Mucous Membrane Color: What Can Your Dog’s Gums And Tongue Tell You?
IMHA in Dogs: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde—Razzle’s Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia
What IMHA Looks Like: Know The Symptoms
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) in Dogs and Cats