As Positive as I have wanted this year to be, I have tone be honest and say it’s been a tough. The 2nd half of last year, I lost two relatives that were very close to me. I found comfort in their passing, because both of the relatives had lived such long productive. And they were constantly with family and surrounded by family during their passing. I was heartbroken but I was able to get closer quickly because they both left this world they way wanted. And they had the most valuable thing on this earth, family and love.
I promised myself to make sure to make this year productive and happy. Most people that know me, knows I myself have dealt with all my life with an Immune disorder called Lupus or SLE. I don’t worry about myself. I’ve been to hell and back with this illness. Yet I believe I am one of the more fortunate ones out of those that suffer thru illness. This year I’m completely out of remission. I’ve been seriousl you depressed. But out of everything in this world that can keep a smile on my face and make me feel so loved really are my pets. Yes I have family that love me unconditionally . It’s just a difference when it’s your own pets. They are naive, highly spirited, love unconditionally. There’s never been a day that passed that I did giggle( and hard) over some of the craziest things they do. Ask me what I value the most in this world, the love of my pets is obviously way up there.
Well, on August 25, 2016 , my favorite baby girl , LoLa Bella, died all of the sudden. The night before death, she looked up at me and because she is always happy, I didn’t picked up on the reason she stared at me so long and lovingly. She slept in my arms the entire night that night. I got up rhat morning to get ready for work, then I heard a thump. It was my LoLa Bella. She had fallen on the floor and couldn’t. It scared me, I didn’t even finish getting dressed. I just picked her up and ran to Veterinarian. I was crying, fluttered and rushing and asking her ” please let mommy know you’re OK.
I felt liquid water run down my legs as I’m driving quickly to vet. I’m begging p,ease don’t die on me. When we got ,the doctor took her immediately. And he looked scared and told me, she died. I stood there completely in shock and begged to please resuscitate her. And he is trying to say he can’t. I thought it was a bad dream and I was trying to wake up. That never came. This was real life. He examined her and realize she was ill. I said but Imy her mom. I should know when she gets ill. And that is when he tried to me about an illness in pets called Acute Hemolytic Anemia. I’m shocked and for someone that has been in Pharmaceuticals for years, his words sounded foreign. I broke down and cried., cried and cried. I’m asking how did this happen,? No one has ever mentionedone, she had a disorder. She at the vet , once a year, and she was only 4 years old. He said an Acute Attack can begin then end a dog’s life within that same 24 hour time. He told me , you would not have ever known.
So after a few days of non crying, I called the vet back and asked him to explain to mexpress, what happened. He said he examined her and could tell by gums this is what killed her.
Matter of fact this is what helse told. Your LoLa had Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. Better known as IAHA. Itso a disease that can lie dormant in the body, and then suddenly attack the red blood cells. You know , like Lupus. He says her body attacked itself and it is hard to save the animal, because it eats away at the red blood cells quickly. Also, the acute IMHA will kill them in 24 hours quick. That is why LOLa Bella died so quickly. He also says some dogs are saved because they may have had the slower version of the illness. However, even the dogs whose body is attacked at a slower the rate, still dies. He told me there was no way you have noticed . Only unless your in medicine. I would not have caught the red because you wouldn’t know what to look for. But if they have very pale white gums, it’s a big red sign, and you would need to bring the pet in right away.
When that conversation ended, I broke down crying for hours. I couldn’t work , eat, or control the fact that I literally cried for two weeks. I really thought this nightmare would end. Well it didn’t. After two weeks of non stop crying , I decided to research this illness, and find a support group to deal with it. This has happened to so many pet owners. The strangest thing, though is when I’m sick,( I am dealing with Lupus and R.A.), my pets in some forms is going thru the same as myself. I’ve been extremely anemic and getting weekly blood transfusions and iron infusion. I would have gladly given my medicine to my LoLa.
So what is IMHA (IMMUNE MEDIATED HEMOLYTIC ANEMIA) ?
The red blood cells serve the crucial function of carrying oxygen to the cells in the body and picking up carbon dioxide.Anemia is a condition that arises when the number of red blood cells falls below normal values, or the red blood cells function improperly. There are many diseases and conditions that can cause anemia in dogs. A low red blood cell count can be the result of blood loss, the destruction of the red blood cells, or an inadequate production of new red blood cells.
When your dog has IMHA, it means his immune system destroys its own red blood cells. Your dog’s body still produces red blood cells in the bone marrow to replace the destroyed cells, but once they are released into circulation, the immune system mistakenly recognizes them as something foreign, like a virus or infection, and destroys them. This condition is also referred to as autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)
There are two forms of IMHA: primary (or idiopathic), and secondary IMHA.
With primary IMHA, your dog’s immune system mistakenly produces antibodies that attack its own red blood cells. This is the most common cause of anemia in dogs.With secondary IMHA, the surface of your dog’s red blood cells is modified by an underlying disease process, drug, or toxin. Your dog’s immune system identifies the modified red blood cells as something foreign and destroys them. When too many red blood cells are destroyed and not replaced quickly enough by bone marrow, the patient becomes anemic. Secondary IMHA can be triggered by a variety of conditions, such as:
- Blood parasites
- Drug reactions
- Snake bites
- Exposure to certain chemicals and toxins
- Bee stings or other allergic reactions
Symptoms maybe caused by:
- Pale gums
- Acting tired, weak, or listless
- Shallow or rapid breathing
- Faster than normal pulse
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Black/Tarry stools1
- Eating dirt
These symptoms can vary from dog to dog and depend upon the underlying cause of IMHA. In some situations (mild or early IMHA), your dog may present no signs at all!
When a dog is anemic, it is important to identify the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may recommend particular tests, depending on your pet’s symptoms and history. These tests may include:
- A complete blood count to identify if your dog is anemic, and, if so, to determine whether or not his body is responding to
- the anemia by producing new red blood cells
- A reticulocyte count to identify if your dog’s body is responding to the anemia by making new red blood cells
- A blood film to look for parasites and blood cell characteristics
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
- Electrolyte tests to ensure your dog isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
- Urine tests to screen for urinary tract infection and other disease, and to evaluate the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine
- Fecal analysis to evaluate for intestinal parasites
- Patient-side screening for vector-borne disease
- Specialized tests that can help identify underlying infectious disease (e.g., various titers, PCR testing)
Treatment of IMHA depends on the severity of the condition. Your veterinarian will determine whether your dog needs intensive care or can be treated as an outpatient. Treatment often includes a variety of drugs and close monitoring of your pet’s vital signs and laboratory values. With secondary IMHA, treatment of the underlying cause is critical for recovery. Your veterinarian will recommend blood and other diagnostic tests including radiographs and ultrasound to try to determine if your pet’s IMHA is primary or secondary.
Your veterinarian may also recommend you see a specialist to help outline the best treatment plan possible, particularly if your dog requires 24-hour monitoring or specialty testing. The prognosis of a dog diagnosed with IMHA is dependent upon the underlying cause, the severity of disease, and the stage at which the disease is diagnosed. Your veterinarian can best help you understand your pet’s prognosis based on his specific diagnosis, overall health, and history.