Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) occurs when the immune system identifies red blood cells produced from the bone marrow as a threat and produces antibodies to destroy them. It is an autoimmune disorder that reduces the number of red blood cells in a dog’s body system and causes hemolytic anemia in dogs.
Reduction in red blood cells and hemoglobin causes oxygen shortage. This shortage of oxygen causes several negative symptoms, which affect the overall health and lifespan of the dog.
IMHA in dogs differs from immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP). ITP is also an autoimmune blood disorder. Thrombocytopenia in dogs occurs when platelets are identified as threats and destroyed by the immune system. Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia in dogs occurs simultaneously with immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) in up to 50% of cases, resulting in life-threatening situations. Both ITP in dogs and IMHA can be triggered by infectious diseases, cancer, exposure to certain drugs, or unknown reasons.
Hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia in dogs are both diagnosed using a complete blood count. Further tests help identify if the condition is primary or secondary and what the underlying causes might be. Some of these tests are serologic blood tests, a Coombs test, urinalysis, x-rays, and other tests.
The Most Common Cause of Hemolytic Anemia at Texas
IMHA in dogs can occur either as a primary condition or as a result of a secondary or underlying illness. Primary IMHA happens about 75% of the time. In this case, antibodies abnormally attack normal red blood cell proteins.
Secondary IMHA happens when an underlying disease affects the red blood cells and initiates IMHA. Secondary IMHA has several triggers like infections, antibiotic use, exposure to toxins, tick-borne diseases, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, and allergic reactions. Secondary IMHA is caused by anything that causes oxidative stress on the red blood cells. Oxidative stress on the red blood cells results in an attack on the red blood cells by B-cell antibodies.
Treatment of Immune-mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) In Dogs
Primary hemolytic anemia in dogs is treated with immunosuppressive therapy. Secondary IMHA is usually temporary. It resolves when the underlying trigger is removed, stopped, or treated. After treatment for IMHA has started, follow-up visits to the vet are done to monitor the dog’s recovery and response to medications.
1. Blood Transfusions
Dogs with severe anemia require blood transfusions. Blood transfusions help to stabilize dogs while a diagnosis is done on the specific cause of the anemia. In severe cases of IMHA, the dog’s spleen is removed in a surgical procedure.
2. Immunosuppressive Therapy
Corticosteroids are first-line medication for primary IMHA cases. If the dog doesn’t respond to treatment with corticosteroids, other immunosuppressants are used.
3. Specific Treatments
When secondary hemolytic anemia occurs, the therapy will depend on the underlying condition. After the secondary disease is treated, IMHA will resolve over time.
4. Stem cell treatment
Most immunosuppressive drugs used to manage IMHA have unpleasant side effects. They are needed for prolonged periods, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Stem cells stop the attack on red blood cells by restoring the immune system to its original settings. With stem cell therapy, dogs require one or two sessions of intravenous treatment with stem cells and are cured of IMHA. This implies that your dog can be treated once or twice intravenously with stem cell safari and be resolved of the issue for the rest of a lifetime.
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