by Helen Stephens Helen Stephens
Made is an 8 year old female cocker spaniel. She presented in a very sick state which had come on very suddenly. She was seen as emergency appointment at 11pm

She was examined by Phil who could see straight away she was anaemic.  She was put onto a drip as she was so weak and some blood was taken.  Tests were run in the in house lab.

She was found to have a red blood cell count of 12%.  A normal level is 37-55% so this was critically low. Madge needed a blood transfusion and so the local pet blood bank was called and provided a unit of blood which was given as soon as possible.

Helen then did some tests to find out the cause of the anaemia. An ultrasound of her abdomen was performed to look for any bleeding or tumours in her liver and spleen.  Radiographs (xrays) were also taken of the chest to look for bleeding.  No evidence of bleeding or tumours was found.

More blood was then taken to check for Immune Mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA).  This is a condition where the pet's antibodies destroy their own red blood cells. This came back positive so we now knew the cause of the anaemia and life saving treatment could begin.

The next step was to find out why Madge's antibodies were behaving in this way. Madge travels to Europe with her owners and has done so for a long time.  There are diseases in Europe which we do not have in the UK. We tested her for Leishmaniasis and Babesiosis just as a precaution.  To our surprise, the result was positive for Leishmaniasis.  Leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite passed on by biting sand flies. It can cause the animal's antibodies to destroy their red blood cells.  This was the most likley reason for Madge's anaemia.

Madge is now doing well.  Her blood count is gradually improving.  The owners will always have to watch her for signs of a relapse as the parasite is very difficult to eliminate.

If you are taking your pet abroad, it is worth seeking advice from the practice before you go.  There are lots of simple precautions you can take to avoid your pet getting sick.  Some can be as simple as flea and worming treatments available only from your vet.  Also avoiding letting your pet outside at certain times of day can reduce their exposure to the various flies and mosquitos. We will be able to advise you on all aspects of taking your pet abroad.

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