What to expect with an anemic dog?
March 8, 2006 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Posted for disillusioned: DogAnemiaFilter: (Asking for disillusioned) My dog has a low red & white blood cell count. Expectations? Experiences? Help?

My dog is a 10 year old male yellow Labrador retriever. He was diagnosed with a form of something similar to spinal stenosis and was put on a course of Rimadyl for pain management.

It works well for him, but the vet did her three month bloodwork to look at its affects on his liver, and has instead discovered that he has an incredibly low red and white blood cell count.

She says that this could be caused by an autoimmune issue, such as Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia. It could also just be because the bone marrow has simply stopped.

He’s shown none of the traditional anemic symptoms, aside from occasional panting, (which we’d thought was a pain response to the back problems) but he’s still very active. He’ll run and drag a pillow to me for fetch, and play hide and seek and all of that. He’s no puppy, but he’s not lethargic or worryingly tired.

Does anyone have any experience with this? How much longer will we have with him, if it’s untreated? Days? Weeks? Months?

The vet said his counts were bottomed out, and incredibly low. How possible is that with little-to-no symptoms? The treatment course appears to be Prednisone, but then we’d have to take him off Rimadyl. How likely is it to reverse this problem? Is a transfusion worth it?

Also, what does the low white cell count mean with regards to the anemia diagnosis? We're visiting an internalist tomorrow who may check his bone marrow. Anything we should ask or know?

Lastly, (wishful thinking filter: ) is there any chance the lab screwed up? The blood was taken from the jugular, since she was having trouble with the veins in the arms. I know it's not likely, but...

Thanks for all your help. This is Cisco.
posted by twiggy to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
Did you talk to your vet about a blood transfusion?

I had an 8 week old puppy I was fostering about a year ago who suddenly became very lethargic and was diagnosed with the same. We never determined the cause and did a tranfusion even though his chances were slim to none, but miracle of miracles, he bounced back and went on to live a healthy and normal life.

This however, is the extent of my experience with the matter. These are really questions for your vet, as far as the "how long can we expect to have him around" and "how likely is the meds to reverse the problem".

I can tell you, however, if you do decide to go with a blood tranfusion, and you know someone with a greyhound, ask them if they would consider their greyhound being the donor. Greyhounds have a significantly higher red blood cell count than any other breed and thus make the best and most desired blood donors. (You can google "greyhound blood donor" or "greyhound blood counts" for more info on this).
posted by Meredith at 5:28 PM on March 8, 2006

If he's on NSAIDs I'd be worried about a GI bleed. Ask your vet and don't be afraid to get a second opinion.
posted by fshgrl at 7:33 PM on March 8, 2006

Rimadyl is certainly an NSAID... Would there be any visible symptoms of a GI bleed? (In stool, etc.?)

As I said, he appears as chipper as ever, running around with us and the like. He gets plenty of sleep (as dogs do) but he's not lethargic or anything I would associate with not getting proper amounts of oxygen.

Thanks for your answers so far! I really do appreciate the help!
posted by disillusioned at 7:38 PM on March 8, 2006

My lab was on Rimadyl when it was first marketed a decade ago and within a month had two pretty lousy urinary infections. I stopped it and went back to aspirin, which worked better, and never caused him a day of trouble. Your dog sounds like he has aplastic anemia, though I am not a vet. I'd get him the hell off Rimadyl and try to get the apparent marrow suppression fixed, and then worry about what pain reliever to give him. The concern here is more the low white count and his risk of dying from an opportunistic infection, if I am able to compare animals to humans.

I never googled Rimadyl until your query just now and the amount of anecdotal horror regarding Rimadyl is fairly impressive, even if 90% is crap as usual on teh interweb.
posted by docpops at 8:01 PM on March 8, 2006

Our dog has a compromised digestive system. We used Rimadyl briefly for a pain management issue separate from the EPI; unfortunately, Rimadyl, an NSAID gave her stomach pain and we feared ulceration, just as in a human. Instead, our vet rewrote for an opioid--Tramadol, iirc. For a dog with anemia, I would think that the possibility of ulceration or bleeding from Rimadyl would raise some flags.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:59 PM on March 8, 2006

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