IMHA (AIHA) : Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia

July 25, 2012

Bella in the hospital


This is what happened to our beautiful Bella when I took her and her sister to get their vaccines, She says: “If we had spent $ 70.00 for a titer test instead, I’d have my baby Bella right here in my lap right now.”
We’ve all received the post card from the Vet that says your dog is due for its shots. Pretty routine stuff, I used to think. After all, I’d been going to this vet for 21 years.  What would I possibly have to worry about, right?
This particular card was sent for Mercedes, our six year old Maltese.  I already had an appointment to get her and her sister, Bella, our three year old Maltese, groomed the following Monday. Because Bella would need her Bordatella shot for the groomer, I decided to take them to the Vet together.   
Upon arrival, we went into the room and they weighed 9 lb. Bella on the table. Her big sister, 15 lb. Mercedes, got weighed outside on the big girl scale.  The Vet came in and ask how the dogs were doing and if they had any problems.   I told her they have been healthy and had no problems at all.  Although her shots weren’t due for another two months, I asked the Vet if it was okay for Bella to go ahead and get her vaccines early since we’re already here for the Bordatella shot. The Vet said it would be just fine. 
One of the techs took Bella in the back to administer a heart worm test and returned minutes later.  They also checked both dog’s temperatures. Bella was normal. Although Mercedes had a slight temperature, the Vet said she was fine to get her vaccines today.  Along with the heart worm test, Bella received a DA2PP Annual, Leptospira Annual,  and the Bordetella Injectable Annual. 
While paying at the front counter, preparing to leave, I remembered to ask about the results of Bella’s heart worm test.  The attendant went back to check and returned to tell me it was okay.
Within 48 hours, now Saturday night, I noticed Bella wasn’t feeling so good.  She ate her dinner but was notably a lot less energetic as her usual self.  By Sunday, she stayed in her bed,  wasn’t eating and felt warm to the touch.  Not Bella at all.  I called the Vet Monday, told them the situation and ask if I could bring her in.
We arrived around 10 that morning. They examined her, checked her gums and said she is very pale.  “What does that mean,” I asked? They took her in the back, returned a few minutes later and said I needed to get  her to VMS Specialist of DFW.  “She needs a blood transfusion,” they said.  
“A blood transfusion,” I asked? I was in shock! “What are you talking about? What happened to her? She was perfectly healthy last week, I got her vaccinated and now she’s sick?  What did you do to her?”  I called my husband crying hysterically! He arrived within minutes and we drove to Bella to the VMS hospital as fast as possible. Was this a nightmare? This can’t really be happening, can it?
Upon arrival at VMS and almost immediately, we were talking with one of the emergency Vet specialists.  Shockingly, she told us Bella would only have a 50/50 chance of survival if we would allow her treatment.  She started a blood transfusion as soon as she could. We started praying.  

Bella with mom and dad getting a 8-hour immunoglobulin transfusion

Our beautiful angel fought hard for 11 days.  Bella’s sheer will to live amazed the entire medical staff, several of whom became as emotionally attached as we are.  Even 5 blood transfusions, 3 immunoglobulan transfusions, and every drug available to some of the best Vets in the country wouldn’t be enough to save her.

Bella died from what is called Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA). Unfortunately, it has a name, not a cure.   Most likely, the IMHA was brought on by her little body trying to cope with the vaccine injections. The body’s own immune system, put into a state of hyperactivity, attacks the red blood cells and basically destroys itself! 
There is no happy ending. I wish I had one to give. The only thing we can do is warn others in hopes they don’t have to endure the same torture.  Ask questions, pay attention, be informed.
We believe our beautiful Bella is saving lives now.  Everyday we think of her and I know she’s with us.  We promised her we would not let her die in vain.  It’s our mission to share her story with anybody that Loves their dog or cat as much as we Love Bella.

Bella 2009-2012, now in Heaven

Bella, we Love you. You’ve made us better people. We promised you we wouldn’t rest until your story is told and other dogs and cats are safer. That’s a promise we are keeping. 

— Lori Turner
Editor’s Note: Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), also called Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA), is a serious, often fatal, blood disease linked to vaccination.  See AAHA Guidelines p. 20. The patient’s own immune system begins attacking his own red blood cells. Here is an article about it:  Do an Internet search for more information.
Giving small dogs like Bella multiple vaccines in one sitting greatly increases the chance of a vaccine reaction according to the 2005 Purdue study of 1.2 million dogs.  For more information, read Vaccinating Cats and Small and Medium-Size Dogs: A Special Danger 
Don’t let this happen to your dog. Read Questions to Ask Before Vaccinating and Titer Testing: A Crash Course
Learn more about IMHA at  If the video won’t play, click Visit the Pet Video Library.
This is from Bella’s hospital paperwork:
Click this link to tell your own story on a vaccine-related illness.

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20 Responses to IMHA (AIHA) : Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia

  1. Victor D Weirather on May 2, 2017 at 11:10 am

    I have 9 year old Cocker Spaniel has recovered from immune-mediated hemolytic anemia , but vet suggest no Rabie vaccinations, but needs to be licenses to be in Raymore MO, but can not get licenses unless has the vaccinations. What do you Suggest?

    • adminjr on May 2, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Victor, your dog will likely not survive any vaccine. He/she is extremely lucky to still be alive. Although your vet agrees, he/she may or not fight for your dog. Your best bet is a vet who will. If yours won’t, try to find a holistic vet who will. Gather as much data about this as you can and go to your state representative if you have to. This is how states get exemptions. Check out Molly’s Law in California. Make noise. Talk to the media. Give you dog away. I wish I had better news. If you have to vaccinate, have a holistic vet do it to support your dog as much as possible.

  2. Nika on December 22, 2016 at 11:19 am

    How long does it take for the vaccines to have an impact? Most people have noted that their dogs got sick within days. My Abby had the leptospirosis vaccine in April 2016, was diagnosed with Evan’s Syndrome on Nov 3, 2016 and died two days ago. Is this too much of a time delay for her condition to have been caused by the vaccines?

    • adminjr on December 22, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Nika, vaccine reactions can occur immediately or as much as a decade later. This is what makes them so hard to pin down. Most vets are reluctant to call any adverse event a vaccine reaction, even when it’s obvious. It’s hard to say if this was a vaccine reaction or not, but it could be. The question at this point, if you have or will have other dogs, is whether the vaccine was necessary. The efficacy is limited and it’s for dogs playing in wetlands and woodlands in endemic areas. It’s particularly dangerous for dogs under 10 pounds (or thereabouts). There’s a good article to Google by Dr. Patricia Jordan. I’m sorry for your loss. Learn more about vaccinating in general at

    • Paul on March 30, 2017 at 2:31 am

      We have just lost our beautiful 5 year old male whippet Buddy to the dreadful condition IMHA. A transfusion only bought him 2 more days. 5 days of intensive vet care did not help. He just stood no chance against it.
      Auckland, New Zealand.

  3. Kerry Krieg on March 1, 2016 at 3:18 am

    our beloved Maltese came down with this as well but we were lucky enough to have the pet insurance and money to pay for her recovery. $6,000 folks. we need to start a revolution people, we are at the forefront of changes, please support Dr. Jean Dodds and her work limiting vaccines for small pets. also, don’t let them take your pet out of the room for treatment, we lost our puppy yesterday to overzealous restraint of a 4 pound puppy. he was choked. from now on, it’s all on my terms.

    • adminjr on December 22, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      Kerry, you should file a complaint with your state veterinary board. This is horrible. You can also file against the vet in small claims court for the cost of the dog, if there is one. Don’t let your vet get away with this cruelty. Even if you don’t win, you’ll embarrass and inconvenience the vet. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  4. Russell Poole on July 6, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I wish I would have read this story just a few days earlier. Our dog Cooper, an non-papered miniature schnauzer, has had IMHA since late October of 2014.

    The disease itself came on without warning. One day our dog was fine and the next day he was sicker than he had ever been in his life. It just so happened that he was scheduled for a grooming that same day. Fortunately, that didn’t stop our groomer and she didn’t require current vaccine, so we kept the appointment. The grooming went on without incident.

    The next day, Cooper’s health took a turn for the worse and we ended up in an Emergency Vet’s clinic as it was Sunday and his normal Vet was closed. We were informed that he most likely had IMHA and would need a blood transfusion, possibly multiple and even then there was no guarantee he would ever be better.

    I remember thinking back then, “what quality of life would that possibly be for a pet we love like it’s one of our own children?” We didn’t want to put him through that and began planning to possibly put him down.

    The 50/50 chance of survival with a transfusion seemed about as bleak as the 50/50 chance of not having back pain after being consulted that my back was in need of surgery. Now, back pain free WITHOUT surgery, I was again at a crossroads.

    I asked the Vet if there was ANY sort of correction through medication to which she was at first reluctant to offer. Fortunately, she told us that there are steroids prescribed that can help in this situation and have shown positive results. That’s all I needed to hear.

    We opted against the transfusion and decided to take Cooper into his normal Vet the next day. That was the best decision we had ever made.

    Although he was never 100%, he was able to sustain a quick recovery within days of starting his medication regimen. The Vet prescribed varying MG’s of Prednisone and Azathioprine daily and bi-weekly check-ups for blood work that eventually led to bi-monthly check-ups.

    Life was good until last week when we couldn’t get a hold of our normal groomer and instead had to opt for a big box store groomer that required current shots. That was the beginning of the end.

    Cooper received his rabies vaccine last Thursday and was groomed Saturday. Everything seemed fine until we returned home Saturday evening after the fireworks.

    The lethargy Cooper had experienced from the onset of IMHA had returned, although this time without the jaundice tinted skin and tongue. He was visibly sick and not his normal self. There were times, yesterday (Sunday) that he was again seeming to rally, but as the night went on, the sicker he got.

    With my wife by his side at 11:45 p.m. last night, Cooper took his last breath. Our baby is gone at just over 5 years old.

    I cannot stop crying.

    I am almost certain that had we not ended up getting that very last vaccine last Thursday, Cooper would still be here. I read yesterday that if your pet has been diagnosed with IMHA, you should avoid vaccine’s all together.

    It’s a little too late for us, but hopefully not for someone else reading this.

    RIP Cooper.

    • adminjr on July 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Russell, I know you’re grateful to your vet for keeping Cooper alive, but he/she should have told you that Cooper should never, ever be vaccinated again. Vaccines are known to cause IMHA. It is an autoimmune disease and vaccines are made to challenge immunity. The vaccine was like pouring gasoline on a fire.

      I’m so sorry for your loss. If you get another dog that needs constant grooming, and if that dog has health problems, know that many mobile groomers do not require vaccines.

  5. Beverly Peluso on April 14, 2015 at 9:04 am

    My loving dog Rascal just passed after 2 agonizing weeks of multiple transfusions and medications in and out of ICU. This was just after receiving multiple unauthorized vaccinations from the Day Care affiliated Vet.

    I’m devastated! Heart Broken and angered beyond belief.

  6. Beverly Peluso on April 14, 2015 at 9:02 am

    My beloved Rascal just passed from the same multiple vaccinations triggering, what I believe, was the trigger of IMHA. I’m devastated.


  7. Laura Massey on September 3, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I believe my Ragdoll cat died from IMHA (AIHA) : Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. Our Bailey was almost three years old when he passed. He had his vaccinations at the end of May, then in July he started acting different. We took him to the vet and they said he had anemia, and they thought he had a blood parasite, they tested him and it showed up negative for blood parasite. My cat NEVER goes outside and I have not seen him scratching. The vet put him on prednisone and a antibiotic. Then the vet stated that if this treatment does not work, then he more then likely has FIP, which is non curable. He was on medication for over three weeks, there was no improvement. Then he stopped eating and his breathing became labored. We took him into an emergency pet hospital and they said that when looking at his blood under a microscope that his blood was clotting. They could not explain why he had yellow gums, skin, deep colored urine. They tested his liver and the results were normal. They said the best thing for him is to put him to sleep as they had no cure for him. He was the sweetest kitty, and we will miss him very much. I knew there had to be an explanation for his illness, and in researching I came across an article on vaccine associated Immune mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA. I think either the vets are not aware of this condition which is caused by vaccines, or they are just not coming forward with the truth. Much like human vaccines cause Autism in some children, doctors just don’t want to tell us what is really going on.

    also, the symptoms he was experiencing were not related to FIP. At the Emergency hospital the vet stated that he thought it could be cancer, I stated that when our vet took x-rays of him a few weeks prior there were no signs of cancer. Upon taking additional x-rays at the emergency hospital the vet did not see any cancer, and that the yellowing of the skin and such was not caused jaundice, because his liver was fine. He could not explain his condition only that he was dying and there was nothing we could do except put him under. This did not sit well with me, and that is when I began researching. Most data out there states that mostly dogs get this, but Im here to say that cats are just as suseptible of getting this reactions as dogs.

  8. amanda lovett on September 3, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Hello, So sorry to hear about your baby, same thing happened to me. I had found this cute little black puppy in my neighborhood about 6 weeks old no one haqd claimed her so i kept her, she was mostly black and a little brown shepered terrier like, i named her Ebony, i believe she was like a shepered terrier, i took her to the vet got all her shots, in the coming months i would arrive home from work and she would look like someone took a pipe to her, she was all swollen and bumps all over her this happened several times thought maybe a spider bite, vet thought it was a allergic reaction to her food, we changed that several times all she did was sit under a chair never really played or anything finally took her to vet they stated ebony was severly sick with imha and only had 45 minutes to live, with 5 minutes was on my way to university of penn after 6 months of predlisone and medicine and $5000, she died vet stated she was then full of tumors, finally after research i found out the vaccines killed her i cried for years and never forgave myself i love animals so much and just tried to do what was best for my baby.

  9. Terrence Gray on August 7, 2014 at 11:24 am

    August 4 2010 my little 3 year old cocker spaniel Chloe passed out. She wasn’t breathing. I did mouth to snout resuscitation. She came to and we rushed her to the vet hospital. She didn’t respond to any drug treatments. On Fiday August 6 the vet called and told me she needed a blood transfusion. Fifteen minutes later I received a call from the vet, Chloe had a stroke during the transfusion and she was suffering and had to be put down. I’m a 65 year old man and this devastated me. It was 4 years ago yesterday and the pain is just as bad. Three or four days before she got sick, I took her to the vets for her vaccines. She was very healthy before that visit. I have 2 Cocker Spaniels now and I also switched vets and I don’t allow my vet to give multiple shots. Chloe was my angel(comforter) in my time of need. I fought stage 3 colon cancer and beat it with ,Chloe at my side. She got sick and I felt so helpless that I couldn’t pick her up and tell her everything will be alright. She was my companion and best friend. I know when my time comes, Chloe will meet me at the stairway to heaven and we once again walk together to meet the good Lord.

    • adminjr on September 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Terrence, I’m so sorry for your loss. Because the vaccination was so close to her illness, it’s likely that the vaccines were the culprit.

      You didn’t say whether or not you have another dog. If so, please read this:

  10. Randi Chapman on April 10, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your Bella. My 7 year old Lhasa “Buddy” was everything to me and the same thing happened to him only I did not make the connection until he was really sick (his vaccines were in Jan and he got sick the beginning of Feb). my sweet boy fought hard for a whole month and we lost him on March 12th after 2 blood transfusions and many many meds. My heart is broken without him too. I appreciate you telling your “Bella’s” story as hopefully it will forewarn and educate people on the harmful effects of too many vaccines given to our dogs who are our family members.

  11. Karen on August 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I just lost my 2-1/2 year old pug/terrier mix Paddington to this horrible disease. He hadn’t been vaccinated recently. It hit out of the blue. It’s a horrible, nasty disease. My heart is just broken 🙁 There was little or nothing I could do, they told me it would buy days…RIP Paddington – mommy loves and misses you

  12. Francisca on August 2, 2013 at 10:57 am

    According to my holistic vet, the latest news is that cats and dogs don’t need vaccinations anymore if they had their sets of shots in their first year. Only Bordetella is required when they go to a kennel or indoor dog training or grooming…etc. Titers are accepted in most places. My dogs are 6 years old and I just had a titer done and they were for 100% protected ( last set of shots when they were 4 month old). Rabies is required by law, but also rabies titers show 100% protection after 10 years or more.”They” are working on a law that requires Rabies vaccines every 10 years. Rabies vaccines also can be a threat to your pets health, the best way is to have the vaccines given by a homeopath, because the vaccine is retrieved different and has no health risks. Research it on the internet or buy Dr. Pitcairn’s ( Holistic vet) book: “Complete guide to Natural Health for dogs and cats.($18.00 at Amazon). Unless you have a holistic vet, don’t believe everything a vet tells you.
    Most vets make the most money with vaccinations.( And they know what they are doing is not up to date). At the last veterinary convention in Las Vegas, veterinarians were pissed off when they had to listen to what an immunologist had to tell them about vaccinations of animals.(No necessity to vaccinate animals after their first set of puppy shots. They are vaccinated for life!)
    My holistic vet, who was at the convention, wanted to cheer, but kept her mouth shot, noticing so many very angry vets around her. She was afraid to get beaten up.
    Spread the word, if necessary only get a titer, and find a holistic vet for your rabies shots. Save a life, let your pet not end up like Bella.

    • adminjr on August 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      Francesca, Your vet is close. Drs. Jean Dodds and Ron Schultz who are the principals of the Rabies Challenge Fund. I am a big supporter and have raised $50,000+ to support the research. They are doing 5-year and 7-year studies. The fifth year has just concluded and we are awaiting results. Not only do we hope to have a 5-year vaccine, we also hope to have a USDA approved titer standard. I lost a dog to the rabies vaccine so this is very important to me.

      Jean Dodds told me that she had her titers tested after rabies vaccination more than 25 years ago and they are still strong. Right now, dogs are having to use the human titer standard which is why titer testing isn’t legal.

      Manufacturers’ studies for rabies vaccines conclude at 3-years because studies are very expensive and that’s all they test.

      So happy to have another soldier in the battle.

  13. Windy on June 18, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    After reading this article, I am more upset with myself than my vet for I read warnings about over vaccinating and my vet still convinced me to do the multiple vaccines yesterday even though I told him I would like to do them every three years. He suggested I get a titer if that’s what I wanted to do but discouraged me by stating it would be more expensive and I was better off just getting the vaccines, for in all the years of his practice he’s never had a problem. Better to be safe than sorry, is pretty much how he positioned it. My dog is my world and would never do anything to harm her, but now, the day after, I can see how tired she is, how slow she is walking with her head low and I know it’s because of my bad decision getting all those vaccines pumped into her yesterday. I called the vet and they said she is probably walking slow due to her blood work taken from her leg, but I believe it to be the shots.

    Reading this story about sweet Bella made me cry and I became more upset after reading the date of her Hospital paperwork, for it’s one year later to the day that I am writing this comment and I have a bad feeling about my sweet Misty. Maybe she will be okay, but I am worried about the aftermath of all these unnecessary combination shots. Thank you for this post. I will be looking for a Vet who won’t convince me that yearly multiple vaccines are the correct thing to do.

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