Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) in Dogs | Treatment and Prognosis
PetWave | Dog & Cat Information

Treatment and Prognosis for AIHA in Dogs

Goals of Treating Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

When an owner suspects that her dog may be anemic, she should take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA, also called immune mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA can be very serious, as it is caused by the dog’s immune system targeting and destroying its own red blood cells. Left untreated, and even sometimes with appropriate treatment, an estimated 40% to 60% of dogs with IMHA will eventually die from the disease. Treatment should be swift and aggressive. The primary therapeutic goals are to correct the anemia so that the dog’s red blood cells can once again transport oxygen to all of its tissues in a normal fashion, and to correct any identifiable underlying disorders that are contributing to the RBC destruction, while maintaining the dog's health until his red blood cell supply can be replenished.

Treatment Options

If a dog's IMHA has already become life-threatening, blood transfusions may be necessary to stabilize him so that the veterinary team has time to determine the primary cause of his condition. In acute cases, this transfusion is usually of packed red blood cells, one component of whole blood. Transfusions can be tricky and even dangerous, because they add more red blood cells for the immune system to destroy and can lead to an even more aggressive immune system response.

Drug therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for IMHA in some cases. Your veterinarian may prescribe a corticosteroid, such as prednisone or dexamethasone, to suppress the dog’s immune system in an attempt to slow down its attack on red blood cells. These medications are given in high doses either by injection or by mouth. If the dog's condition does not improve, stronger immunosuppressive drugs, including chemotherapeutic agents, can be added to the mix. These might include drugs such as azathioprine and/or cyclophosphamide, and new medications may be brought on the market as well. These are usually not a first treatment choice, because although they are stronger, they also have the potential for more adverse side effects.


Intense treatment is necessary for a good outcome in dogs with autoimmune hemolytic anemia. In mild cases, full recovery may be possible, although it is uncommon. In most cases, long-term or even lifelong treatment may be necessary. Relapses are common. The prognosis basically depends upon the underlying disorder. Only a veterinarian can determine the best course of treatment for a dog suffering from this disease.

Source: PetWave


Rabies in Dogs

Rabies in Dogs: Learn about Rabies, including how it can affect your dog, and what...

Follicular Dysplasia in Dogs

Follicular Dysplasia in Dogs: Learn about Follicular Dysplasia, including how it can affect your dog,...

Strokes in Dogs

Strokes in Dogs: Learn about Strokes, including how they can affect your dog, and what...

Glaucoma in Dogs

Glaucoma in Dogs: Learn about Glaucoma, including how it can affect your dog, and what...

Coonhound Paralysis

Coonhound Paralysis in Dogs: Learn about Coonhound Paralysis, including how it can affect your dog,...


Dog Health Dog Health
Learn about the most common diseases affecting dogs
Puppy Training Getting a Puppy
A new puppy in the house can cause quite a whirlwind of excitement
Dog Breeds List of Dog Breeds
Comprehensive list of dog breeds with specific breed information

Find a Dog Breed?

With so many dog breeds to choose from, sometime it's easier to seach based on certain characterisitcs.

Caring for your Dog?

There is more to caring for your dog than just feeding it. Find out all you need to know to make sure your pet stays healthy.

Training your Dog?

A dog's behavior plays a key role in making a great pet. Training your dog makes a happier dog, and you will be happier too.

Ask a vet?

Have a question?
Ask a Vet Online NowSM

Ask a Vet

About Us | Review Board | Badges | Tell a Friend | Bookmark this Page | Submit Feedback | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Dog Breeds | Cat Breeds | Dog Health | Cat Health | Dog Training | Cat Training | Dog Care | Cat Care | Dog Adoption | Cat Food & Diet

Advertise on - A Pet360 Media Network Partner

Become a Fan of on Facebook Become a Fan on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter Email Friend about Tell your friends about PetWave

© 2015 PetWave Corporation. All rights reserved
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian. PetWave disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
For more information view our Terms of Service.