This month’s Patient of the Month shines a light on a serious diagnosis that effects both cats and dogs. This disease has a very high mortality rate yet in nearly 60% of cases the cause of the condition is largely unknown.
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) is a condition where the body no longer recognizes its own red blood cells and therefore begins to attack them. While studies indicate various reasons for this condition- ranging from drug reactions, blood parasites, even cancer -most cases have no known cause yet the trajectory of the diagnosis is often life threatening.
Lucky, a 5 year old mixed breed dog has been a regular client of VCA HAH since he was first brought home. From his adoption to neuter to wellness checkups we have seen this little guy grow up. However, earlier this year, his family noticed his energy level decreasing and when he suddenly collapsed; they immediately brought him to see Dr. Patterson.
Upon her exam, Dr. Patterson observed the fatigue and weakness noticed by his owners in addition to the pale tone of his gums- all signs of anemia; a condition in which the blood doesn't have enough healthy red blood cells to function properly. Lucky was immediately admitted to the hospital and after running the necessary blood and diagnostic testing, anemia was confirmed.
Lucky’s bloodwork showed a packed cell volume (PCV) of 20%- a normal PCV in a dog being 37-55%.
For eleven days Lucky was hospitalized. He was treated with immune suppressing medication to stop his body from attacking itself. He was given multiple blood transfusions to fortify his body as it shredding his RBC supply. It was a race to get ahead of this self mutilating disease.
Throughout his treatment, Lucky was a fighter. His blood volume fluctuated. His energy and interest waned daily. Through daily blood test and regular medication updates, Dr. Patterson successfully slowed the slicing of his cells, Finally when his PCV began to hold at 25% he was on the mend.
Now, after weeks of homecare and regular bloodwork rechecks, Lucky has a PCV of 35%. He is well on his way to long-term recovery and we are pleased to be able to share his success story.