I have been reading all I can on this disease the past week, and read somewhere that vaccinations could be the cause – Abby had a vaccination the end of May, and looking back she did seem to slow down some this summer.
Recently I came home from work in the afternoon I found her laying by her water dish, breathing heavy and she couldn’t get up. I rushed her to the vet where they took xrays and did blood work. The xrays came back first and my vet was encouraged as there was no signs of tumors, her heart and lungs were very good. Then the bloodwork came back and confirmed the AIHA.
My main concerns are:
*Is prednisone the only thing that will hold this disease at bay or are
there holistic treatments available? I am very concerned with long term prednisone use,
although it sounds like it is the only thing keeping her alive right now.
*Are there other supplements or stronger supplements I should be giving
her to strengthen her immune system?
*Is it safe to return to the raw diet?
*Vaccinations and heartworm medication – I read that a dog with AIHA should
never have either of these, but I’d like confirmation in case my vet still wants to do so. I’m determined not to allow any further vaccinations for Abby, but I also have another dog (no health problems) and I am concerned now about her. And as for the heartworm treatments, do you have a natural herbal parasite treatment you’d recommend to replace the chemical ones the vets provide.
*Grooming – being a cocker spaniel, she is getting very shaggy and needs
a trim. But I read somewhere that you shouldn’t groom a dog while
recovering from AIHA because it puts too much stress on the dog.When
would be a safe time to resume grooming?
Thank you in advance for all of your help. It is truly appreciated.
Thank you for your inquiry to Holistic Pet Info. The bloodwork definitely shows a light anemia but a very high white cell count. Has your dog also had an autoagglutination test? Since your dog has previously shown an immune hypersensitivity (itchiness and ear infections) her immune system is already unbalanced. I would not recommend vaccinating again, at 12 years old your dog will not get distemper or parvo with a lifelong vaccination
history. If you are concerned about vaccinations you can always have serum titers done. Leptospirosis vaccine is considered high-risk for adverse events and if your dog does not hunt or regularly hike in the woods it should not be generally considered.
I would recommend rechecking the hematocrit regularly and if it returns to the normal range you may consider decreasing the prednisone dose. IMHA has a broad prognosis and in some animals can resolve. The diet you are offering is ideal, but in the early stage of treatment I would recommend a cooked diet for several months.
Since she is on predisone and it’s an immune suppressant, the Immugen may not be the best supplement. It contains echinacea, which works as an immune stimulant, therefore not an ideal combination. You may want to offer Cell advance 440 by VetriScience (antioxidant) and Hepagen C with milk thistle. Milk Thistle is the best herb for liver support while on steroids and the antioxidant will maintain the immune system without stimulating it.
The question of curing IMHA is subjective, but the vaccination is most likely the inciting cause in this case. If the immune system can stay stable then the dog does have a chance of getting better. Though, I would avoid anything that aggravates the immune system. If you are in an area where most dog owners routinely give heart worm and flea preventative,
I’d advise discontinuing those preventatives. You may offer Parasite Dr. by PetAlive to supplement for parasites, if your other dog is treated that should help protect your cocker.
As far as grooming, you may want to consider a mobile groomer if your dog is more comfortable at home. Or, possibly learn to do minor grooming yourself.
Colleen Smith DVM, CVA, CVCP
Dr. Smith, thank you so much for all of the information for Abby. I will be placing an order through Holistic Pet Info for the 2 supplements you recommended, and I am feeling a bit easier about the whole diagnosis after reading your comments.
I havean additional question about the vaccinations and heartworm meds.
I have read that once a dog receives the series of vaccines as a
puppy that no further vaccinations are necessary the rest of their life?
And I already use Parasite Dr. rather than the chemical heartworm pills – just wanted to clarify -should I discontinue any treatment for Abby and just treat my other dog?
And how often would you recommend the Parasite Dr be used – I currently
do it every 6 months.
Thanks again for all of your help. It is truly appreciated.
There are many holistic vets that subscribe to the vaccine protocol of giving puppy series, one booster and titers thereafter. I agree if the titers prove above or within range the adult animal does not need additional boosters. With vaccines more is not better. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical companies only label these vaccines as yearly (of course more profitable that way). So, allopathic veterinarians don’t question these labels (legal implications) nor look at the secondary effects on the animals over time. You may also titer your other dog and if they are above the range should be protected as well. You may direct your vet to research done by Dr. Ronald Shultz he is professor and chair of Pathobiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Vet Med. He has been studying the effectiveness of canine vaccines for over 30 years. He is a conventional veterinarian that at least
recommends vaccinations every 3 years.
I would recommend discontinuing all vaccinations, heartworm and flea preventatives for Abby. The parasite Dr. is primarily an immune support during a parasite infection so you may use it as a more preventative once a month rather than every 6 months. She should still be tested for internal parasites and heartworms. Best of luck.
Regards, Dr. Smith