Today we have a special patient story featuring Tucker, a Maltese-Poodle cross. Tucker was diagnosed with canine immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP), a disorder in which an animal’s immune system starts destroying its own platelets.
This case also involved a little help from a dog named Sirius, who served as a blood donor for Tucker. Sirius is the animal companion of Tanya, one of our overnight veterinary technicians.
Here, Tucker’s human companion Mary shares his story:
“Tucker was horribly sick and not expected to live. I am so very grateful to the whole VCA team for their hard work and vigilance that saved him. … I can’t say enough great things about Dr. Alan Stewart. He seemed to have a sixth sense about Tucker. Combined with his amazing knowledge and experience, Dr. Stewart was able to see Tucker through this life-threatening time.
“Everyone worked so hard to help him – the nurse who volunteered her dog for two blood transfusions, the nurse who offered to drive him on her day off to UC Davis, the doctors who collaborated on his treatment, the wonderful people who doted over him 24 hours a day, the office staff who were so kind to me when I basically set up camp in the lobby … ”
Sirius on the night of the transfusion
As you can see, Sirius is quite the contrast to little blond Tucker! Sirius began life as a Guide Dog for the Blind. After a forelimb injury, and lots of care from the SFVS staff and Dr. Phil Watt, he was adopted by SFVS tech Tanya in August 2013. Now he spends his time frolicking with his siblings, destroying his mama’s National Geographic magazines, and growing stronger (and cuter) every day!
Sirius and friend at play
Now for more fun stuff! Tucker says:
“Tucker here. I was born in Williams Lake, British Columbia. It is cold there and being a Maltese-Poodle cross, I decided not to cut my long hair because it is nice and warm. I am shy and look away when the cameras come out. I like to sneak in people’s gardens and eat their broccoli. Then I pretend I was just rolling around on their lawn. I like to go to tide flats and catch tiny fish. I like to go to playgrounds and slide down the slides. I am good at begging for cheese. I like to hug my stuffies.”
We want to thank Mary and Tucker for sharing this patient story! We are sorry they had to go through such a scary experience, but our doctors and staff were honored to be a part of Tucker’s veterinary care team. We also want to thank Sirius for stepping in to be the blood donor!
More about immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP), from SFVS emergency veterinarian Dr. Elyse Hammer:
ITP is an immune-mediated disorder in which an animal’s immune system starts destroying its own platelets. It is seen in both cats and dogs, but is much more common in dogs. ITP can be either primary (idiopathic, meaning there is no underlying cause) or secondary to another disease (tick-borne infections, drugs or cancer, to name a few).
Platelets are very important in normal blood clotting. When the platelet count becomes sufficiently low, animals can start spontaneously bleeding. Most commonly, pet owners will notice bleeding from the mouth or nose or bruising under the skin (called petechiation or ecchymosis). Blood in the stool or vomit, lethargy, and anorexia are also common signs.
Tucker’s bruised belly, part of the differential diagnosis of ITP
ITP, though sometimes challenging (as in Tucker’s case), is treatable and is one of the immune-mediated conditions often managed here at VCA SFVS. Therapy often entails hospitalization on IV fluids, potential blood transfusion if bleeding is significant, treating any underlying causes, and starting immune-modulatory drugs.
Would you like your dog or cat to be featured in our Patient Stories series? Please email us for information. We look forward to hearing from you.