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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Evans Syndrome in Dogs

Reading more about this Evans Syndrome, the combination of Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopnia, the disease that took my Sally away...In retrospect, there were signs of it for years, but who would ever know? They were so mild and seemingly benign. She had red, patchy splotches on her belly all the time. We just thought they were from her laying in the grass, allergies, you know? And vets never acted like it was something to be concerned about. They usually just said to give her some Benadryl to clear it up. She had bleeding gums a lot, but again, we thought it was just because she'd been chewing on one of her bones. She recurrently had blood in her urine, but the vets always treated it as a bladder infection or urinary tract infection because, well, why wouldn't they? And she always seemed to get better with that course of treatment. We did notice, a few weeks ago, with the beginning of spring that she seemed to get tired more easily from fetching the stick in the back yard, but we thought, gosh, we're all a bit out of shape after such a long winter. She just needs more exercise to rebuild her stamina. Looking back now, those were all precursors that separately seem like nothing, but all added together... Well. How were we to know?

Such a rare, weird disease. I wish there was some kind of fund that I could contribute to so that others could be spared the pain and heartache that we have. And so that other furbabies could be spared the suffering and sickness that my poor baby had to endure. And I wish I could afford to contribute to such a fund, if it existed. Actually, there should be a fund to help others who are battling this thing to be able to pay their ginormous vet bills. We racked up  a few grand in less than a week. I'd pay five times that if it would bring her back.

It all happened so fast. That pic at the top of this page was taken three days before she got sick. Three little days.

On Tuesday, we noticed that Sally was hot. Like, really hot. And she seemed super tired. And looking back, she wasn't much interested in her dinner Monday night. She ate a bit, but not much. On Tuesday morning she didn't want to eat at all. We took her right on in to the vet. She had a super high fever of 105.8. They kept her overnight, gave her antibiotics and IV fluids.

Wednesday morning she seemed much better, and was able to come home. But we took her right back in that evening because she was hot again and having a bit of trouble breathing, and we noticed that her gums, her eyes, the insides of her ears, and her belly were yellow. I recognized those bilirubin deposits from my days of nursing.

That's when they diagnosed Evans Syndrome. Her blood counts were so very low. She received some more fluids and medications and was given a really high dose of steroids to try to stop her immune system from destroying her blood cells. She seemed to respond a bit.

We brought her home.

The next morning, Thursday, when I tried to take her potty, she was panting heavily before she could make it from the sofa to the back door. She reached the porch and just collapsed. Her little legs trembled and shook and she just went straight down. I'll never forget the look on her face, she looked up at me surprised and frightened. I could hear her puppy voice in my head pleading, "Mom, help me." She tried to stand back up but her little legs just would not hold her. I sat with her for a few minutes, and then she was able to regain her strength and get back up. We came into the house and I called Macey and the vet. Macey left work and was home to take us back to the vet within 20 minutes. By the time we got to the vet, Sally Sue was back on her feet, perky, or at least perkier than she had been for days, and seemingly significantly better. It was decided that she should stay overnight to be monitored and in case the blood transfusion was needed.

The next morning she was so weak, her kidneys were shutting down, and the vet said that even with a blood transfusion, at this point she could not be saved. The steroids were not reversing the autoimmune reaction. Her own body was attacking her. Her blood counts were not responding, and in fact were continuing to drop. Her blood didn't carry enough oxygen to her organs to keep them working. She was struggling to breathe. She was suffering. We had to make the decision that no pet parent ever wants to make.

It was horrible, but it was also beautiful to be able to be there with my puppy. I snuggled her and laid face to face with her. I showered kisses on her snout and scratched her ears. Macey spooned our sweet Sally Sue and held her in her arms. She was right where she always wanted to be, sandwiched in between her two mommies- with all hands on Sally, and all eyes on Sally, and all attention focused on Sally.

My puppy passed away being showered with love.

I thanked her for allowing me to be her guardian for as long as she was able to stay here. I apologized to her for not being able to save her. I told her how much she had given to me and how grateful I was for my time with her. And I told her how very, very much she was loved.

The vet cried, and told us she was gone, but I already knew. I could feel it that she was gone.

           Saturday 5/10:                       

Tuesday 5/13:


Thursday 5/15:

And by Friday morning, she couldn't even hold her head up or keep her eyes open for more than a few seconds.

That fast.

So listen, if you see red or dark colored patches on your dog's belly, and maybe even sometimes on their gums, and if you notice their gums bleed easily when chewing on bones or other hard chew toys, and maybe you notice that they seem to be tired a bit more quickly than usual...please, please get some blood work done and make sure that their red blood cells and platelets are in the normal range. This thing sneaks up and takes control and there is very, very little we can do to reverse it once it takes hold.

I'd like to create a fund to help others battling this awful disease. The medications are expensive. The hospitalization is expensive. And the blood transfusions, and yes, there'll likely be many, are expensive. In under a week we accrued a multi-thousand dollar vet bill.

If you would like to help contribute to Sally's Fund, to help us pay off her vet bill and make it more affordable for us to be able to rescue another furbaby, we certainly appreciate it. You can donate via our Sally's Fund page on

Any excess funds received will be donated in full to Brown Dog Foundation, a non-profit charity organization whose mission is to help bridge the gap between the cost of medical care and saving the family pet.

Every dollar helps.

1 cookies cracked:

Heather Mae said...

What a touching account of Sally's passing. Knowing you, I knew it would not be anything less. She knew she was loved.