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Whippet Health

a resource for whippet owners & breeders

Immune Mediated  Haemolytic Anaemia


 In dogs with AIHA red blood cells are still being made but have a short life as the immune system quickly destroys them.

An affected dog will be very lethargic from a lack of oxygen in the blood carried around the body, the dog may even collapse from too little oxygen reaching the brain. The dogs gums will be very pale,

The liver has to break down the excess hemoglobin and high levels of the breakdown products will show as yellow coloured skin and eyes, the urine may also appear dark. The heart has to work much harder to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood , it can result in heart failure and death

A problem with the blood platelets can be seen alongside AIHA , this is called Thrombocytopenia and is discussed seperately. Sometimes autoimmune haemolytic anaemia has a primary cause, such as being induced by drugs


If untreated AIHA will result in death rapidly, usually from heart failure. In urgent cases a blood transfusion is necessary until drug therapy can be initiated

Steroids are the drug usually used to suppress the immune system and allow the blood cells to recover, it may be necessary to keep the dog medicated for months or even for life




Symptoms include: 


-Positive Coombs test

-Anaemia -indicated by very pale gums  

-Free haemoglobin is present in blood and urine (makes the urine look dark)

-jaundice - yellowy eyes

-Lethargy & exhaustion

-Extremities may be crusty or scabby (ears, nose,feet and tail)

-Enlargement of the spleen may occur

-Enlargement of lymph nodes may occur




Useful links

If you see anything on this site which you think needs ammending please let us know

This detailed case study which you can download as a pdf has been used and highly rated by vets treating AIHA in whippets

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