Autoimmune Disease is a blood disorder where the pet’s own immune system attacks and destroys its own red blood cells or platelets. When red blood cells are destroyed, it is termed Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA). When platelets are destroyed, it is termed Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (ITP). In 50% of cases, both versions of the disease occur at the same time and can quickly become life-threatening. Each can result from triggers such as cancer, infection or exposure to certain drugs or toxins; but can also occur for unknown reasons.
Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, panting, rapid breathing, poor appetite, vomiting, reluctance to exercise, spontaneous bruising, dark urine, yellow in the white of the eyes and yellow or pale gums.
Susceptible to any breed, however, more often seen in the Bichon Frise, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, Finnish Spitz, Giant Schnauzer, Irish Setter, Old English Sheepdog, Poodle breeds (Miniature Poodle, Poodle, Standard Poodle and Toy Poodle), Saluki and Springer Spaniel.
Common Treatment Protocol
Generally, immune mediated diseases are treated with corticosteroids, and if the dog does not respond, immunosuppressants are then used. Transfusions may be needed, and in serious cases, the spleen may be removed. Relapses can occur, so follow-up visits to your vet will be required for ongoing monitoring and medications, most likely for the remainder of the pet’s life. The drawback is the harsh side effects the medications have on the dog.
Stem Cell Treatment
Stem cells halt the attack on red blood cells and/or platelets by “resetting” the immune system. This means that your dog can be treated once or twice intravenously with stem cells and be resolved of the issue for life.