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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:48 pm
by MidMoConnie
Thanks Dawn,

I dont like those numbers, that's for sure. But thank you. I just want facts and reality, because HIS life and comfort are what is important here. This dog saved my life.... this is no average dog. Not that any loved dog ever is. But I truly owe him one and never can forget that debt.

His RBC 4.05 LOW
His HCT 31.7 LOW


His MCV 78.2 HIGH
His MCH 32.5 HIGH

My vet said the numbers were "off'' but not critically off. Everything else was normal. His spleen was slightly enlarged.

20 MG pred twice daily with food
200 MG oxycycline daily with food.

He is a VERY healthy 46 lb field type spaniel (Looks exactly like a liver field spaniel, people always mistake him for one) Very strong 11 yr old, never stops, tail banging constantly, ball chasing, neutered male.

He was underweight at 40 lbs about 4 months ago, which probably should have been an alarm, but my dogs are so active on the farm that they often go under their target weights, so I just fattened him up with extras these past few months and was happy with his final weight.

I farm alone, with 3 guardian dogs in the fields and 2 spaniels as house pets and a blind cur dog as indoor outdoor buddy. So I am constantly "on" with ALL of the animals and looking for any illness or gimpiness etc... and I do understand that this is such a fast acting disease that signals arent necessarily evident. I know I cant blame myself. But I think back now and see some of the signs earlier. But even taking him in to the local vet they didnt know there was anything wrong with him.... the short breathing and the weight loss and behavior changes that I saw werent taken into real consideration.... more like an overly worried owner imagining things.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:53 pm
by Vickie
Connie....I am currently fighting IMHA with my pup, Annie. She was also started on prednisone and and antibiotic. By the end of the first week my vet also added cyclosporine which is what transplant patients take to prevent organ rejection. She is currently on those along with azathioprine which is a chemo drug. She has also had two transfusions - one of gamma globulin and the second of blood. She is also on a liquid aspirin which is important with IMHA since you need to avoid blood clots. Thankfully she is doing well now and starting to cut down on the pred. This is a horrible disease and if caught early and fought aggressively you can beat it. Please make sure you have a vet that is familiar with the disease. If your vet is unfamiliar with it research who is best close to you and contact them by phone and ask if your vet can consult with them. This is a roller coaster and I have had good days and horrible days since the end of April when I started this with Annie. I was so crazed by what was happening I could hardly get myself to research anything but you need to force yourself to do that so you can be as informed as possible. Listen to Dawn and what she has posted here- she and a few others here have saved what is left of my sanity. As you need us, we are here. Several of the pups here have won this battle.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:03 pm
by dawn & kevin
MidMoConnie wrote:

But I cant seem to get a straight answer about the progression of this disease and the mortality rates and symptoms as things progress so I know where I am with it! Or he is with it so i can be prepared and able to deal with things. LIke at least I knew what to look for with a histamine release from tumors with my Aussie. and waht to look for with my Springer's cancer. I want NO lingering suffering for my loved ones.

This is what I cant do: anything like blood transfusions or drastic rescue measures that are insanely expensive.

Thanks Connie

NOTE: I See while I was composing this post, you and Vickie have been busy! So, some of this post will now be unnecessary! :wk

OK Connie,

I will do my best to answer some of the above:

First, I am assuming that you have Bosco home with you at this point. I also assume that you have not been asked to give Bosco a transfusion. If this is not correct, please advise. It is important in what I might have to say about his condition.

I have already given you the prognosis, in my first reply. Generally it is 50%/50%. But, this is very, very subjective as I do not know Bosco’s initial condition. This is why I asked what his PCV percentage was at his first test. Also, what did your Vet say about his condition? With this information, I could be of much more assistance to you.

The disease can progress very rapidly and/or stabilize very slowly. I know that this is not a direct answer, but unfortunately, with this disease there is no immediate answer. Unless Bosco was so severely ill that his condition was quite apparent to the Vet. :roll

We term this disease as a “roller coaster ride”. Precisely because we can’t determine the outcome. All we can do is to give the inexpensive Prednisone and whatever medication that is prescribed by our Vet. Then hope that they all “kick in” and the dog begins to improve. So, unfortunately, we can’t give you a precise answer. But, if Bosco is to survive, he should start to show the signs of improvement within about two to three weeks. Some show improvement within the first week or two. It can take quite a while for the medications to “kick in” as we call it.

What to look for? Well, mostly to see signs of improvement. This is hard for me to explain because I don’t know what his initial symptoms were. Why did you take him to the Vet in the first place? The first signs/symptoms of IMHA are, acting lethargic, no or low interest in food, gums are not pink, but white, grey or even yellow. Also, yellowing of his eyes and blood in stool. These are subtle but very important sighs to watch for.

So signs of improvement will be subtle as well. His PCV percentage will rise. Average PCV is between 37% to 55%. Other signs, such as his gums will begin to be pink again (initially his gums would have been white, grey or yellow). Then he will show more awareness and a slight interest in food. Less lethargic could also be another sign of improvement. The most important way to verify improvement would be another PCV test. My Moonbeam was having her PCV tested every day for the first five days, at least. Then every other day and so on.

I hope that this helps to clarify some of your concerns. For further info, please provide the following if possible:

1. Bosco’s condition at the time you took him to the Vet. Gums, lethargic, not eating, or what?
2. His PCV count? There are other blood tests within the CBC, but to simplify for now just the PCV count?
3. What did your (not so willing to talk) Vet have to say? With this disease, your Vet MUST talk to you. It is imperative that you are very much informed. Sorry, if I sound annoyed here. I think that you know why though. :?:

Sending by best thoughts and my prayers for you and your Bosco. :love

Dawn :hp


PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:51 pm
by Vickie
Connie....Dawn asked some good questions for follow- up information. Annie went from low RBC numbers to crashing in a period of 5 days. That was while on prednisone and cyclosporine. Please don't think anything is " normal". I was on the phone with my vets as often as 8 times a day. Also the recovery can be very slow....after almost 4 months Annie picked up a toy for the first time yesterday. She still doesn't run at all and won't jump up onto the bed or furniture. noted on Dawn's info, it can cause heart murmurs and such. It is important not to stress out the dog. By that I mean be careful of hot, humid weather, letting the pup exert himself, etc. to minimize the strain on his body systems.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:14 pm
by dawn & kevin
OK, You all are getting ahead of me and I am now trying to catch up. Also, what I had started to post dropped. UGH!

Anyway Connie,

A PCV of 31.7 is not that bad in my opinion. Moonbeam was at a 15% PCV when she was diagnosed and another forum member named Lindsey’s dog dropped to about 6% as I remember. Also, some of us were thrilled when our Cocker’s went to 31%. Actually, Moonbeam was at 32% for a time when she was considered “stable”.

Here is a CBC count average chart for you to consider:
WBC..... 10.6 x 10-3/mcl.........(4-12 x 10-3/mcl)
RBC....... 6.2 x 10-6/mcl........(5.7-10.5 x 10-6/mcl)
HGB........ 14 g/dl............(9-16 g/dl)
MCV....... 55.9 fl............(40-60 fl)
MCH....... 18.2 pg............(15-20 pg)
MCHC...... 33.5 g/dl..........(32-36 g/dl)
PLT........ 210/mcl.............(160-420/mcl)

You did not mention what Bosco’s WBC (white blood count) was. With IMHA it should be very high. I recently have been fighting high white blood cell counts with our Chloie. Frankly, I do not understand the WBC standards in this chart because Chloie’s was high at WBC: 38,600, normal is 16,300. So the numbers above for WBC @10.6x10.3/mcl to not correlate to me. I will have to investigate this more later.

Anyway, I am starting to feel a little better about Bosco’s condition. At least you are not stating that his gums were yellow or that he had blood in his stool. Those are not so good signs, but surely not a death sentence either!

Now, I have to say that I am not a Veterinarian nor even a Vet Tech. But, just a pet owner that has had an IMHA dog and who was scared to death about it. And, I always want to do all I can to help anyone with a newly diagnosed dog. It is very Overwhelming.

That being stated, I will tell you that you should not fret too much about his weight. Actually, it was one reason that you brought him in. Vickie had a great suggestion to see if your Vet will consult with another more educated in IMHA Vet. That could be very helpful.

Another thing about his weight is that the Prednisone does tend to put weight on a dog. As Vickie stated, don’t let him be too active. He will need his rest and relaxation to fight IMHA.

Well, I hope that we were able to have helped you. There are so many facets to IMHA and, as I stated before, we have a lot of knowledgeable members that will come up with more suggestions/help for you in the next few days. There is just so much to remember and with all of our input, you should get a lot more information, sympathy and general caring. They will see this thread active again and chime in. I know just how much they care as well.

Dawn :hp

PS: Please feel free to ask us anything that you have on your mind and at any time. Also, try to figure out how to post in the Cockers, Cockers and More Cocker’s or the Caring for your Cocker section of this forum. You will get many more responses from people who care so much about Cocker’s, but don’t necessarily read this forum about IMHA. But, they SHOULD. We who have had IMHA dogs are always trying to get the word out for Cocker Spaniel owners to be ware.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:26 pm
by Naomi
Oh Connie! Hugs to you and Bosco! I went through this twice with my heart dog, Mia. The first time she was in the 50% survival group, relapsed 18 months later and sadly, passed away from complications. There is absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent this. IMHA strikes randomly.

Dawn has given you some excellent info. I tell people that fighting this disease is like riding a roller coaster blindfolded. You have no idea whether or not you're going up or down, have no idea which way you are going to turn and every twist leaves you breathless. Know that it can take months to reach remission and that recovery is one step forward, two steps back. The first time Mia got sick, she did not reach full remission until 17 months had passed. I am lucky enough to live near a specialty hospital and they were very aggressive in her treatment. She has 2 transfusions, a 4 day hospital stay, several months of blood tests every other week and it was nearly a year before she was in a normal range and remained there. Once a dog has had IMHA, their immune systems are considered "sensitized" for IMHA. You want to avoid stimulating it.When Bosco reaches remission (thinking positively!!) you want to avoid Clavamox, keep other oral antibiotics to a minimum, avoid unecessary vaccinations and anything else that could stimulate his immune systerm.

There are organizations that financially help those whose dogs have life threatening medical issues. I have included a link to info provided by a local organization called FACE. ... 20NEED.pdf

Hopefully, you can access help from one of these providers.
:hp :paw Good luck and please keep us posted on Bosco's progress!


PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 8:56 pm
by MidMoConnie
I have to say thank you to everybody. I actually am a little calmer now that I have some sort of support system. It's the not knowing that was doing the most harm.

I have a compromised immune system myself, genetic, and Bosco (my ECS) saved my life when it kicked in and I was bed bound an suddenly alone with an illness at 42. I understand prednisone's effect, having to go that route myself and for my Springer who had cancer.

Imagine having a Cocker spaniel puppy in bed with you for months. NOT the best way to raise a confident puppy, much less his being a velcro dog to begin with.

Once I started getting better, I entered him into RallyO & agility to help me with cognitive issues and to build his confidence up and lower his separation anxiety issues and he was GREAT.... always in high 90s. He has drive like a border collie. Really "sharp"'.

You know how great he was? He could do the stations without my telling him what to do- not by reading the signs, but by craning his head around my leg and reading my eye & body movements. He is that connected to me. Crazy...

He is a one in a million dog. And I knew it the day I took him home as a puppy.

So my crying the entire day away at the thought of losing this great friend of mine is understandable I hope. And Im a pretty tough cookie. But this is a hard one for me to accept. So thank you for being here.

I cant find a WBC on his sheet so I'll call the vet tomorrow about it.
Bosco is and always has been in excellent physical shape- like an athlete. He looks like a liver field spaniel. All low and lean muscle & high energy and drive. My ACS is a classic Lady and the Tramp buff girl. (One Blue eye to wink at the boys with) They are like night and day. But best buds. My Springer died last year from cancer.

I have a thing for spaniels.

Ive got to get some sleep. Bosco will be on the bed with me so I'll know if he needs to go out etc... Im beta to death after today. Thank you!!!!


PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:44 am
by Vickie
A count of 31 is not bad. Annie went down to 12 which is when we had to go with transfusing. Also while this is going on, please remember NOT to treat your pup with flea and tick repellent, use sprays and such that can be inhaled, etc.