Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) in Dogs


The red cell serve the essential function of bring oxygen to the cells in the body and getting carbon dioxide. Anemia is a condition that occurs when the variety of red blood cells falls listed below normal worths, or the red blood cells function incorrectly. There are many diseases and conditions that can cause anemia in dogs. A low red cell count can be the outcome of blood loss, the destruction of the red blood cells, or an inadequate production of brand-new red blood cells.

Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) in Dogs

When your dog has IMHA, it indicates his immune system ruins its own red cell. Your dog’s body still produces red blood cells in the bone marrow to change the damaged cells, once they are launched into flow, the immune system incorrectly acknowledges them as something foreign, like a virus or infection, and damages them. This condition is also referred to as autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA).


There are two kinds of IMHA: primary (or idiopathic), and secondary IMHA.
With main IMHA, your dog’s body immune system wrongly produces antibodies that attack its own red cell. This is the most common cause of anemia in dogs.

With secondary IMHA, the surface area of your dog’s red cell is customized by an underlying disease procedure, drug, or toxin. Your dog’s body immune system determines the modified red blood cells as something foreign and destroys them. When a lot of red blood cells are destroyed and not changed quickly enough by bone marrow, the patient ends up being anemic. Secondary IMHA can be activated by a variety of conditions, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Infection
  • Blood parasites
  • Drug reactions
  • Snake bites
  • Exposure to specific chemicals and toxic substances
  • Bee stings or other allergies


Symptoms may consist of:

These symptoms can differ from dog to dog and rely on the underlying reason for IMHA. In some scenarios (moderate or early IMHA), your dog might present no signs at all!


When a dog is anemic, it is important to identify the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may recommend specific tests, depending on your family pet’s symptoms and history. These tests might consist of:

  • A complete blood count to recognize if your dog is anemic, and, if so, to determine whether his body is reacting to the anemia by producing new red blood cells
  • A reticulocyte count to recognize if your dog’s body is responding to the anemia by making brand-new red blood cells
  • A blood film to try to find parasites and blood cell characteristics
  • Chemistry tests to examine kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, along with sugar levels
  • Electrolyte tests to guarantee your dog isn’t really dehydrated or experiencing an electrolyte imbalance
  • Urine tests to screen for urinary tract infection and other disease, and to examine the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine
  • Fecal analysis to evaluate for digestive tract parasites
  • Patient-side screening for vector-borne disease
  • Specialized tests that can help determine underlying infectious disease (e.g., various titers, PCR testing)


Treatment of IMHA depends on the severity of the condition. Your vet will figure out whether your dog requires extensive care or can be treated as an outpatient. Treatment frequently consists of a range of drugs and close tracking of your pet’s essential signs and laboratory values. With secondary IMHA, treatment of the underlying cause is important for recovery. Your vet will recommend blood and other diagnostic tests including radiographs and ultrasound to aim to determine if your pet’s IMHA is primary or secondary.

Your vet may likewise advise you see a professional to assist outline the best treatment plan possible, particularly if your dog requires 24-hour tracking or specialty testing. The diagnosis of a dog identified with IMHA depends on the underlying cause, the seriousness of disease, and the stage at which the disease is identified. Your vet can best assist you understand your family pet’s prognosis based on his particular diagnosis, general health, and history.

Also read: Anemia in Dogs


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