The course of veterinary medicine does not always run smoothly...as
American Cocker Spaniel "Charlie" Palmer found
Over a period of a few days, 4 year old Charlie changed
from a happy, healthy dog to being weak, collapsed, vomiting
and feverish. Then, overnight, he became severly jaundiced.
A number of blood tests rapidly revealed that he had immune
mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA) -a condition where the
immune system gets "confused" and starts to attack
and burst it's own red blood cells. Charlie was left with
just one third the correct number of red blood cells, leaving
him severely anaemic.
The yellow jaundice arose from the pigment that was generated
when haemoglobin from the burst cells was broken down.
Usually, treating with high doses of corticosteroids to
suppress and "calm down" the immune sytem will
control this condition. In Charlie's case, however, the
life-saving corticosteroids produced a rare side effect.
They created an ulcer in his stomach. This ulcer bled, leading
to further loss of red blood cells.
Charlie was re-admitted as an emergency and given a blood
transfusion from my own dog "Joskin". To complicate
matters further, the ulcer perforated so that his stomach
contents and bacteria leaked into his abdomen (peritonitis).
Emergency surgery was required to remove the ulcerated area
of stomach and thoroughly flush out the infection.
Our next dilemma was how to control the IMHA,as we were
loathe to give Charlie more corticosteroids. He also continued
to vomit up blood, despite the fact that we could not see
any other ulcers in his bowels.
In desperation, Charlie was sent to the University of
Bristol, in case he required further blood transfusions.