Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia can be a primary autoimmune disease that attacks red blood cells or secondary to infection with mycoplasma, a tick-borne parasite and some tumors. Dogs with IMHA may exhibit lethargy, anorexia, have dark orange or brown urine, pale or yellowish gums, fever or a yellowish tinge to the whites of the eyes.
IMHA can be diagnosed with blood tests, including a Coomb’s Test designed to detect antibodies on the surfaces of red blood cells. Other diseases that may cause IMHA must be ruled out. Secondary disease can be treated by treating the disease that caused it. In an IMHA crisis the dog will require emergency care and hospitalization, often including blood transfusions and immunosuppressive medications. Long term care includes immunosuppressive therapy for several months post-crisis.
Primary IMHA is a type of autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are genetically predisposed; if a dog has the disease, it has the genes. Dogs affected with primary IMHA should not be bred. Their near relatives should not be bred to mates with a family history of any autoimmune disease.