This is going to be long, and I haven't posted about it before. We moved last year on Nov 28. Shortly before that I noticed Dolly seemed to be slowing down, but it was nothing real obvious. At the time we were also fighting fleas in the house, thanks to a new neighbor who moved next door with huskies (or that's my guess since we didn't have a problem before). I was using Advantix/Advantage but it hasn't worked very well the last few years. Usually in the past if we were having a problem I would vacuum the house every other day in addition to the flea med, but I didn't do that because I was busy getting packed for moving, not to mention boxes sitting around everywhere, and I was tired. I feel bad because one of the cats got fleas badly, too, at that time, and I can't go back and undo the misery, but again, the medicine wasn't working well. I'm not saying it doesn't work at all, just that it didn't seem to be working here where I live on our type of fleas last year.
Anyway, after we moved I noticed Dolly still seemed a little off. Of course there is stress with moving, but I took her to the vet. The vet did a routine check and didn't really find anything. Then he kind of paused and said, "Well, I'm not finding anything, do you want to try bloodwork?" and I said, "Yes, it's something...." because I could tell there was something going on. But again, next to no real symptoms other than not being as active.
The bloodwork came back that she was extremely anemic. I can't remember, I think her count was 11.5, and he said another point lower and she would need a transfusion. I think we were both shocked. He said it was immune mediated hemolytic anemia, and they would try suppressing the immune response with steroids. After that we had a long course of prednisone and re-checks, and her numbers got better and better, and finally after months (don't remember how long it was now) we were able to taper her off the prednisone. We were fortunate it worked. Sometimes when then get it, they can also get it again later, so I need to be watch her from now on.
Then a month or two later she got fleas and I had her checked again, because I freaked out thinking fleas were what may have started the IMHA last time, but fortunately she was OK, and we're using something different called Simpleguard (sp?) which seems to be really effective, so if we get any fleas at least now we can control them. For what it's worth, after we moved out, I had sprayed the carpet (which was going to be replaced) and finally bombed the house (which I never do, I don't use chemicals, but the house was empty) and even that didn't work, so they were really resistant.
Dolly had been due for her annual shots right at the time we moved, so this October she was a year overdue and I asked if it would be OK for her to get her rabies. Some dogs will react to some vaccines, and I didn't want to set off more anemia. The doctor said yes so she got her shot. Then less than a week later, she started throwing up. As far as I could remember, she had not thrown up during the anemia but I kind of went into panic mode again. She was throwing up her whole meal unchewed. I was hoping maybe she had a tooth problem and simply was swallowing it all whole, but I was automatically worried.
She was checked again, she did need a dental, and her blood levels were actually one point better than they had been. I can't remember, I think she was up to 36 maybe. So we did a pre-screen and she had 2 extractions and a cleaning and now she is back to her happy, sassy self, what a relief. At this point, her red blood cells are good but a couple of her other numbers are a little off, but they don't seem worried about it, I don't know. She was 7 months old when I got her in early 2009, so she must be about 8 1/2 now. Her weight is good. Her appetite is great. Her spirits are great. I do worry about her a little now after all this, but she is fine, enjoying the colder weather, and happy.
I guess the biggest message about this is, if your dog is feeling a little off, DO get bloodwork. There was nothing about her exam to show she was severely anemic. I mean, yes, he looked at her gums, but she's black and she has a lot of black on her gums, I can't tell much when I try to look. The immune mediated hemolytic anemia is just sneaky
, the red blood cell count can be going down and down till your dog is on the verge of needing a transfusion, and it isn't nearly as obvious as you would think if you have a dog that isn't super active to begin with. Don't know if this will ever help somebody.
And the other thing I want to say is, for all the blood tests Dolly had to have, she was an angel the whole time. Never needed a muzzle, just sweet. I'm so glad she's back to her old self again. I don't necessarily think she got it because of her genetics, which are a little different. The fact that she has gone 8 1/2 years before losing a tooth makes me wonder if she's not a chihuahua mix after all. I might have guessed chihuahua x dachshund, but her teeth are really good for either of those breeds, we're wondering if maybe she's a Papillon mix. Guess it would take a DNA text to find out.