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“Penny” is a 6 year old Cocker Spaniel belonging to the Smith family from Prestwick. Penny came to County Vets at the end of August when her owner noticed her becoming increasingly lethargic. On examination of Penny she was found to have very pale gums which were slightly yellow tinged. A blood sample was taken at the time to check her organs and also to check for signs of anaemia. Penny was hospitalised and put on intravenous fluids and given supportive care while we were waiting on the results of her blood test.
Blood results revealed that Penny was severely anaemic. A normal Red Blood Cell Count (RBCC) for a dog is between 5.5 to 8.5 and Penny’s RBCC was 1.05. A normal canine packed cell volume (PCV) which is a measure of the proportion of blood volume that is occupied by red blood cells is between 37 to 55 and Penny’s PCV was 7. She was deteriorating rapidly and could not even lift her head off the kennel floor. Her gums were rapidly becoming paler and she urgently required a blood transfusion to save her life. The vets were concerned from the outset that she was suffering from a condition known as Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA). This is a blood disorder which basically means that Penny’s immune system had recognised her red blood cells as foreign material which prompted them into attacking and killing them. Luckily for Penny help was at hand in the form of a big friendly giant called Aiyla:
Aiyla is Scotland’s first canine lifeguard so she is more familiar with saving human lives than dog’s lives but was also happy to lend a paw when one of her fellow canine friends needed help. Aiyla is a 5 year old Newfoundland owned by Grace and John from Girvan. She was called upon by County Vets to donate blood as we knew she would be the ideal candidate due to her size and temperament. Aiyla was a star patient and behaved impeccably throughout the blood donating procedure. Thanks to her we were able to save Penny’s life with a blood transfusion. Without this, it was highly unlikely that Penny would have survived the night.
Penny was also started on immunosuppressive drugs to stop her body attacking and killing her RBCs. Unfortunately there is not a quick fix when treating IMHA and she will require to be on medication for months. Luckily Penny has responded very well to her treatment and her RBCC has gradually been regenerating each week. Her RBCC is currently back within the normal range and we are slowly weaning her off the immunosuppressive medication to see how she copes. She is eating well and is back to her lively self!
It was an emotional time for all involved when Penny and Aiyla met for the first time at County Vets in Ayr. To read a bit more about their reunion please check out the link below:
We would like to make everyone more aware that their dog may be eligible to donate blood. Unfortunately we don’t have a blood bank like in human medicine and we often require blood at short notice and occasionally throughout the night. The procedure is very similar to human blood donations and but involves collecting blood from the jugular vein in the neck rather than the arm. If you have a dog which is fit and well, weighs more than 25kg, is up to date with vaccinations and is of a fairly quiet nature (not absolutely necessary as sedation can be given if required) then please register your dog at County Vets as a potential blood donor which could save another dog’s life.
Penny and Aiyla's emotional meeting with their owners and vet Megan