Around June 26 my mom noticed his eye was hurting and she brought him to the vet, who said it had ruptured. He was full of fleas and had white pale gums. He had lung congestion and purulent nasal discharge. The vet said she was very concerned about IHMA [immune mediated hemolytic anemia]. The vet recommended blood work but said the diagnosis was poor. The vet also recommended euthanasia. My mom said no and he was brought home on pain meds. Then he died within 12 hours of going to the vet. Pooka was 15 years old.
Do you think that the short amount of time without flea meds could have caused this severe anemia or was it more heart related with the lung congestion? He was having trouble getting around and breathing heavy before this happened and would sleep under his chair all day. Any answers would help as I am in terrible pain from his death.
– Mark, Pensacola, Fla.
First of all, please accept my deepest condolences over the loss of your sweet Pooka. I know how heartbreaking it is to lose a pet so suddenly and unexpectedly. While we do often see severe anemia from flea infestations in young puppies, it is not usually seen in adult dogs. Most flea control medications do work very effectively and many can have residual efficacy for more than one month, however if bathed, the efficacy is reduced.
Heartworm disease very commonly causes heart and lung damage, and I would suspect that before the fleas as the cause for the immune mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA). Of course, he was also an older dog (15 years old), and may have just had an old heart because of age that could be completely unrelated to either of these things. And until they can successfully perform heart transplants for dogs, I’m afraid there is not too much else that can be done for congestive heart failure in dogs aside from medications.
PHOTOS: puppypoopy.com, breederretriever.com