Wednesday, March 30, 2011


 You love your dog.  You want to do everything you can to have a healthy and happy pet.  You find the best vet you can  and have your dog vaccinated to protect him/her.  Then something goes terribly wrong.   You dog develops a rare disease called Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA).

This is not a hypothetical case study.  It is a real nightmare that several pet owners have lived through after their dogs were given a rabies, a distemper, or a DHLPP (Distemper, Hepatitis. Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) vaccine.    Some of these dogs had to be euthanized because of IMHA.  One of the dogs bled to the point that it had to be put down.  Some veterinarians believe there is a causal relationship between these vaccinations and IMHA.  The vaccine manufacturer has denied any responsibility.

If your dog experienced health problems or irregularities after receiving a rabies, a distemper, or a DHLPP vaccine or you had your dog euthanized as a result of issues following such vaccinations, please contact Douglas Hyman at or John Bliss at with the information.  They will contact you promptly to follow up.


  1. Billy,

    As a veterinarian for over 20 years in a busy small animal practice I would like to comment on this topic. Unfortunately, this can of worms is now opened. The RARE disease, also known as Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia is indeed RARE. Parvo and distemper ARE NOT RARE, and in many areas of the country are epidemic, and equally, if not more fatal. AIHA does not cause hemorrhage, but red cell destruction, so the bleeding dog, had something else,(maybe immune mediated thrombocytopenia). There have been NO conclusive studies that show vaccines CAUSE these diseases. More studies are needed, but the problem actually seems to be the dog's own immune system and how it responds to the vaccine. In cats, that may develope a tumor called fibrosarcoma, there is increasing belief that it is genetic, and hopefully a "tumor-causing" gene will be identified.

    Vaccines are blamed for pretty much everything that can possiblly go wrong with a dog throughout it's entire life. Think more genetic! I see no more immune mediated diseases in vaccinated dogs, I see just as much thyroid disease in unvaccinated dogs. I have vaccinated thousands of dogs and cats. I have many very old patients that I have vaccinated throughout their lives.

    We (veterinarians)see animals die a horrible death from distemper and parvo, and they're not always puppies. Please don't start yet another vaccine scare! Remember the 2 yr old Dalmatian special that got a group 2 one day, then the next day had diarrhea before going into the group ring, so she was pulled. She died within 48 hours of parvo. How many dogs were exposed unknowlingly exposed? The handler lost 2 more dogs before the ordeal was over.

    Since most breeders and show people vaccinate their own animals, the veterinarian's first experience with that sick animal may be when it is SICK. So it's anyone's guess if the animal was healthy or not, and properly vaccinated, and where the vaccine came from (it makes a difference).

    But bottom line, think problem with your dog's immune system, and NOT the vaccine when an unproven vaccine reaction happens. AIHA can happen from ANYTHING!

    So my spiel, is not about making money, but doing what's best for the pet. If this was just about making money, I can make a whole lot more treating a dog with parvo ONE time, than I can from a whole lifetime of vaccinating it. (I added this because I'm tired of hearing how the only reason vets vaccinate dogs is for money).

    Respectfull, Cara Campbell,DVM

  2. The purpose of the post was to gather information. I can't believe a Vet would opine on why a dog had to be euthanized without knowing the dogs medical history and it's vaccination history.
    No one said anything about Vets vaccinating dogs for the money.

  3. Thank you, Dr. Campbell, for bringing our attention to the rarity of this condition. Yours is a valid argument for not only vaccinating our beloved pets to keep them healthy but also for health testing prior to breeding.
    When I read the original post, I thought that it sounded like something that attorneys were attempting to scare us with in an effort to form a class action suit & make money off of unfortunate circumstances. When I looked up the website, I found that indeed they are attorneys.
    I certainly hope that our dog community doesn't succumb to their opportunity to make a quick buck!
    Robin Henderson
    AKC Breeder of Merit

  4. Having had a healthy 11 year old Irish Terrier bitch succumb to IMT and IMHA I have been second guessing why this happened. Was it vaccines, was it genetic, was it stress? The only answer I could squeeze from the specialists was "we just don't know". Well that's not good enough. This condition was swift and devastating to my bitch. So I am happy to contact these individuals if it will promote research into this condition. One lesson I did learn was to do titers on my dogs. It was a tough one to learn but it's the only way I know where I can at least take precautions against this happening to my other beloved redheads.

  5. Billy, I am shocked to see this on the Dog Show Poop website. No medical procedure is without risk. It may well be that some animals will respond badly to a vaccination (or the owner will assume that is the causal problem). But without vaccines, ALL dogs would be unprotected from these diseases, and many, many would die. The best person to advise someone about the risks and benefits of vaccination is their veterinarian, not an attorney (or a website for dispersal of dog show results). Billy, I come here to keep up with the dog show scene. I rely on reliable sources for veterinary information relevant to my dog. If this post was alerting this community to some new disease vector we should be aware of, and indicated we should contact OUR VETS for information, that would be one thing. But this post has no place here.

  6. Counselors, my opinion was a professional opinion based on years of education and experience and what was written. I am most certainly qualified to have an opinion on this topic.

    I also have a genuine concern for the health and well being of my patients. I bold heading VACCINE ALERT is just the type of thing that injects fear into people.

    What exactly is your reason for your information gathering? Are you doing research? If so, which vaccine manufacturer?

    Cara Campbell,DVM

  7. IMO - there is a time and a place for everything, and while vaccinosis or vaccine induced disease is the proverbial elephant in the room, I do not believe it belongs on this forum.
    Parent clubs, all breed lists and health lists are the appropriate forum.

  8. A dog I breed died from IMHA. The owner's vet gave him a rabies vaccine and DHLPP all on the same day. He was only 3 years old and this did not have to happen to him. It is not rare, it does happen due to over vaccination and loading a dog up with vaccines without properly spacing them out.

  9. Of course a vet is going to say that this illness is rare and the vaccines are not to blame.She also needs to remember that what is the protocol for her particular breed may not be the same for other breeds.I have a breed that is highly sensitive to everything so you have to be very careful.The breed that I have you can't even wash them if they get sprayed by a skunk because if it gets into the blood stream it will kill them.My breed can't even take stuff to prevent ticks and lime disease.Whem my breed gets very ill they go down hill very quickly.

  10. I think it would have been more useful for this post to say that IMHA is a response of a dog's immune system that results in destruction of red blood cells, which is not a good thing. This immune response can be caused by many things - cancer, parasites, infections - things that trigger the dog's immune system. The way vaccines work is to stimulate an immune response to a particular vector. There is apparently some evidence that vaccines can also result in IMHA.

    But this post explains none of this. Instead, it pushes the "vaccine scare" button ("Vaccine Alert"!!!) then makes a loose association between dog vaccines and a scary illness called IMHA. There are people who will see "vaccine" and "IMHA" and think vaccinating their dogs is dangerous. Thousands of families are not vaccinating their children based on scary anecdotes and some bad science. Word got out that there is a mercury-based chemical used as a preservative in vaccines (thimerosal). Somebody (a since-discredited scientist) suggested that it caused autism and the scare was on. Thimerosal is used as a preservative in many things - contact lens solutions, nasal sprays, tattoo inks - and there is no hysteria over these things. But for vaccines, the damage has been done.

    I'm all for any efforts that might result in better care for our pets. I'm all for efforts to make sure drug manufacturers are exercising due diligence to make their products as safe as possible. And if they won't do it on their own, I'm all for using our legal system to pursue them. If there is credible evidence that a dog vaccine might be a problem, then we should get to the bottom of it.

  11. Remember folks that No One forces you to come to this an read the information that is provided. So with that being said if one does not like the content being conveyed, click the X at the top right and close the, page.

  12. Thank you, Dr. Campbell & Carol Beuchat. In particular, I'd like to point out that Carol has NO "dog in this hunt." She does, however, have a scientific background, one that values issues like cause & effect. And Dr. Campbell, as a DVM, is familiar with the principle of risk v. benefit.
    I'm reminded of all the hysteria (yes, I said "hysteria") about human pertussis vaccination because of claims that it led to autism. These claims have now been thoroughly discredited by leading medical researchers, but guess what happened? A lot of young parents stopped vaccinating against whooping cough, and we've seen a large increase in the incidence of pertussis, and a bunch of dead babies. Happened to a newborn at my church--she was too young to have immunity, but the pool of older unvaccinated kids is now large enough that the risks of babies getting pertussis are now raised. And when babies get pertussis, they frequently die.
    Patty Harbison

  13. Re the poster at 10:47am, who says among other stuff, "I have a breed that is highly sensitive to everything so you have to be very careful...." Has it occurred to you that MAYBE there's a problem with your breed? If the breed is truly vulnerable to death if you wash skunk-smell off them, maybe just maybe you should think twice about perpetuating this breed??? Like, maybe we have a moral obligation to our dogs to NOT deliberately breed animals that can't deal with everyday life?
    Sheeze, let's not make things so very easy for PETA and the animal-rights extremists! Just saying..

    Anonymous, because I don't want to be in the crosshairs of fanatics.

  14. I'm a bit shocked at some of these reactions. I belong to way too many list servs to count and this is the first I have heard of this research. As I mentioned above, since one of my dogs was affected by IMT/IMHA I am interested in offering my experience to whatever valid research projects are going on. I'm glad you posted this because I would not have known about these contacts.

    I still vaccinate my dogs if they need it. I'm a little nervous when I do but that's understandable given my experience. But I'm also nervous as a breeder because what if the problem is genetic? What risks am I assuming by continuing these lines that I use? Because the experts cannot provide a reliable answer, I spend lots of time being nervous! So, thanks again for taking this sidebar. Those of us who are interested in IMT/IMHA have a chance to participate. I hope it works out.

  15. The link is not to a "valid research project." The link is to a for-profit Michigan law firm that's on a nationwide hunt for plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit they want to file.
    I don't have a dog affected by this but it sounds awful. Legitimate scientific research is always a good idea. That's not what's going on here.

  16. Anonymous....
    It is very sad that you lost your dog, but it is highly unlikely that vaccines are the cause. As the DVM whom has a formal education and experience with canine disease process said, it is more probable that your dog had an existing immune issue that the vaccines did not cause. Your and others pursuit for "investigation/research" when something unfortunate has happened is the very cause of a crippled health care system we humans get to benefit from. This pursuit is short-sighted and a slippery slope. Vaccines save lives. Your attempt to correlate events in time with an outcome does not prove or suggest a correlation of events (ie. your dogs death with vaccination). That is not how we show correlation or cause in science. I am again sorry for your dogs loss. Please, consider that maybe it might not be the vaccines. Can you prove that it wasn't something else? If you can prove that first then maybe you have an argument.

  17. Lawsuit's happen all the time in human medicine when bad things happen so why would this issue be such a big deal? I would hope that more people would be interested in the vaccine issue and the health and well being of their dogs.
    Patti Wendling

  18. I would love to know what breed it is that was referred to as so overly sensitive as to not even be able to wash skunk spray off of them!

  19. Titers anyone?

    My 5-year-old dog developed IMHA two weeks after being vaccinated and had to be euthanized after a hard-fought, exhausting and expensive battle 8 months later.

    The ER vet who cared for her when she presented with the disease said it probably was caused by the vaccines. The internist who took over her case said it probably was caused by the vaccines. And the general vet who inoculated her quit giving vaccines altogether as soon as he learned she was ill.

    Had I been given options that included titers, I may not be writing this today.

    This is a terrible, terrible disease that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. We need to know more about it. We need to learn how to successfully treat it. That may mean challenging a vaccine company to produce a safer product. It may mean asking the veterinary community to rethink its vaccine protocols. It DOES mean dog owners and breeders must be better informed to make the right decisions for their dogs.

  20. IMHA is not *caused* by vaccines. It is caused by a dog's faulty immune system and the inappropriate immune response leading to the anemia can be triggered by vaccines (or cancer, or insect bites, or parasites, or some medications, or...). Roughly 60-70% of all cases of IMHA have no apparent cause. There is a strong genetic link to IMHA as well as other autoimmune diseases -- breeders should be looking there in addition to implementing conservative vaccine protocols and titering.

  21. I was not going to comment on this until I read the attack, for lack of a better word, on breeds that have sensitivites to vaccines. "Has it occured to you that maybe there is a problem with your breed?" We CREATED vaccines-how is being sensitive to being pumped full of unnatural chemicals a PROBLEM? I vaccinate my dogs-purely because the risk of contracting distemper and parvo are far greater then having a reaction, but my breed cannot get the Lepto vaccine, as they have a known higher rate of reaction. I don't see this as a "problem" whatsoever, and to imply that we shouldn't be breeding them purely because of vaccine sensitivity is ridiculous.
    I find this particular post something that really shouldn't be on a dog show results blog. I can understand if it was something un-biased, and educational, but it is by lawyers seeking money. There are risks in EVERY thing we do, even just walking outside of our houses (or heck, even staying in them). This post will just scare people into thinking we don't need vaccines, and just create more dogs getting the diseases the vaccines prevent. Lord only knows we need more fear in our lives.

  22. A few comments.
    1) What breed is so fragile that you can't even wash skunk spray off of it? It would be great to know to make this public knowledge if it is indeed (cough) true.
    2) where is the scientific literature listing breeds that can not be vaccinated against leptospirosis?
    3) IMHA does not cause bleeding.
    4) Douglas Hyman is a lawyer. I am not sure what his motives are for collecting information about adverse reactions following vaccination (though I certainly I have my suspicions). I will toss this bone to him: If you are engaging in valid scientific research about vaccination and IMHA, you better be able to cough up a protocol about what hypothesis you are testing and how you intend to test that hypothesis. Otherwise, I will go with my gut feeling that is not so subtly stated in your solicitation, that you are out for money. Besides, did anyone else notice that Mr. Hymen started by talking about IMHA, but later noted that he would collect information about dogs suffering "health problems or irregularities" after vaccination? This is not focused, scientific research. I would encourage Billy to post any scientific protocol you can share.
    5) Lisa A. - this will sound horribly insensitive, but in addition to your dog getting rabies and DHLPP on the same day, the dog was exposed to a number of other immune-system stimulants, including food and many other things in the environment. Why do veterinarians make the knee-jerk reflex to blame vaccines? Did they do any special tests on your dog?
    6) Parting shot: There is a lot the veterinary community doesn't know about IMHA, but to solicit information without an clearly stated objective is irresponsible.

    -A veterinary epidemiologist (and yes, I will agree, IMHA is a devastating disease that affects purebred dogs and mixed breeds - I would love to solve the puzzle, but blaming vaccines without other evidence is wrong).

  23. Thank you last poster. That's what I tried to state in my original post, but you did it better. I get a little riled up about this topic. My goal is to do what's best for my patients (which includes my own dogs), not what some attorney thinks I (veterinarians) should do. Cara Campbell, DVM

  24. Billy,
    I replied privately to the email address supplied, and received a response. After Bing'ing Hyman Lipitt, I was distressed to see that they were a law firm. Whether you knew it or not, one would think that a law firm soliciting potential members for a class action, would at least offer this information in their solicitation. And yes, it is a solicitation, it is not a request for case studies, or for scientific research. You would think that their would be laws against this type of activity.

  25. I have nothing to contribute to the IMHA discussion but do have to say that I agree with someone who posted earlier about breed reactions to Lepto. We refuse to vaccinate our dogs for it AND have it in our contract that dogs we bred are not to have it (or the contract is void should something happen) after having two severe reactions in unrelated dogs. Luckily, working in a veterinary clinic, we caught both anaphylactic reactions and were able to save the dogs.

    I do not have any scientific research to prove the breed sensativity - only anecdotal: there was a SIGNIFICANTLY higher rate of reaction to Lepto in my breed in our clinic, regardless of breeder, bloodlines, etc. And it was also significantly higher with one brand of vaccine versus others.

    I agree that if a breed as a whole is so sensative that washing it after it has been sprayed by a skunk kills it that perhaps breeding programs need to be seriously re-evaluated... but vaccine reactions? They're a part of people, too. Should be stop allowing people to breed who have reactions to vaccines and/or medication simply because their body won't handle something that is produced by man? I certainly hope not, since I have severe medication reactions in some cases and hope to have children...

  26. Veterinary epidemiologist again....

    I am still curious why these folks who claim their breed is more sensitive than others to the lepto vaccine refuse to name their breed. What is the hold up? I admit, I am a skeptic, but I would love to see the literature demonstrating a breed predisposition to such a reaction. Perhaps if you won't name the breed, you could provide a reference for the rest of us if it does exist?

    I agree, dogs have a higher rate of reactions to bacterins than other vaccinations, but I would like to see the evidence - scientific - that certain breeds are more predisposed. I am always open to learning more, but this masquerade does nothing to make me reconsider how I practice.....

  27. @April 2, 6:39-I think the person who left the comment about skunks meant the chemical that is used in the shampoo.I show collies and they are highlighly sensitive to alot of different things including different shampoos and other things.Here is a link to what I am saying:
    Collies are also allergic to Ivermectin.Here is a link to that
    There are also many other drugs that collies are allergic ranging from morphine to acetromazine to yxlazine.
    I am fortunate enough to a vet that deals with other collies and have a major vet hospital in the state that has a vet that owns collies also.Some people are not fortunate enough to a have a vet that deals with their particular breed alot or have a major vet hospital where one of the vets own their breed. So please be kind to those people even if you don't agree with them.

  28. I forgot to add in my comment at 12:18pm that different lines in my breed(collies) are allergic to different things.In the invermectin issue only about 35%-40% of collies are allergic to this particular breed.The link is telling you just to be careful and keep an eye on it if you own collies.

  29. Years ago I had a 4 year old bitch that died from complications due to Immune-medicated Thrombocytopenia. After her death, I was told there had been others of her bloodline who suffered from AIHA as well. Now-a-days, the veterinary literature names my breed as being more susceptable to AIHA and Immune-mediated Thrombocytopenia. IMO, (and others as well) there IS a genetic link.

    I agree that this site is not the proper place to be discussing this topic and especially in preparation for a class action lawsuit. I do believe a vaccine might be a "trigger" for the expression of the problem but it is NOT the cause.

  30. Well, I see that the "Vaccine Alert" is now in a column with the other ads, where it belonged all along. It is a solicitation for clients by a class-action lawyer.

  31. @Dr.Cara Cambell-I just got this article in an eamil and wanted to know what you thought.I respect your opinion and its always good to get a second opinion from another vet. The link is:

  32. my 5 year old completely healthy 6 pound happy pup had a hep vaccination shot 2 months ago and today I come home from work and she can't move. I took her to the vet who administered the shot only to feel sick myself when he told me she has a fever of 104.5. Her vet insisted the shot was necessary with absolutely no prior health problems or any trace of the virus. There is no possibility in my eyes she acquired hepatitis from her surrounding environment or it being a hereditary issue. Tonight I cannot sleep because my best friend is in critical condition being pumped with fluids. the vet said sorry and she may not make it through the night. We need a miracle now. Any suggestions? Should I believe the vet caused this disaster?

  33. There's no legitimacy to any medical "research" project funded by lawyers trolling for clients.

    Shame on Dog Show Poop for perpetuating fears to help lawyers make money from the dog fancy industry.

  34. I cannot believe there are breeders out there that justify breeding dogs that cannot be bathed following a skunk incident....what the hell is wrong with their immune system that they cannot be bathed??? Do they live in a bubble? How can we as the caretakers responsible for the perpetuation of healthy animals allow this....What have we done to the species that it comes to this? I am both a RVT and owner/handler/breeder of French Bulldogs. Dogs that are not sound (conformation and health) are not bred in order to only produce the healthies animals I can. I have to remember that these are pets first and foremost and if I am not able to do the best I can for my pets, then I should not be in the game. OMG, I am totally floored by this whole issue. I have seen puppies die horrible deaths from parvo. I saw an adult Dalmation die a horrible death from parvo. Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia can be caused by anything that triggers that dogs immune system. Most commonly seen in Female Cockers. As a RVT, my dogs are vaccinated but they are also regularly checked by my doctors before being vaccinated. We do not self vaccinate our children, do we? And as the mother of an autistic son, I still believe in VACCINES!!!!

  35. My 6 year old boxer became sick after 7 in 1 vaccine. Hives within 24 hours, followed by sore neck and swelling at injection site, decreased appetite and vomiting, then by 48 hours had bloody diarrhea, seizure. Dx immune mediated thrombocytopenia. Put to sleep 7 days after vaccination was given. Platelet count 6,000 and multiple blood transfutions.