We have been putting together a group of articles detailing cockapoo health and the issues that can affect it. So far we have released an overview, as well as detailed articles on skin, bones, and eyes. Here we will discuss the immune system and some of the health problems that can arise for a cockapoo dog. This article will not be all-engulfing, but we will discuss some of the immune health problems that are a bit more common in cockapoos, and give you ideas of what to look out for.

Auto-Immune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) is a frightening immune disorder that affects both cocker spaniels and poodles with some frequency, although it can effect any dog breed. This disorder means that the bodys red blood cells are attacked by the body itself, due to the body thinking that the blood cells are diseased. AIHA  has been studied by many researchers, but no underlying cause has been able to be found.

Sometimes it can be brought on by a vaccine, a bacterial infection, or medications. It can happen without warning, although often the symptoms come on slowly over time. Things to watch for in your cockapoo are paleness in the dogs gums, a yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice), and fatigue. Sometimes the abdomen will look enlarged and the dog may have pain when you touch it, due to an enlarged liver. AIHA can be  diagnosed through a physical exam and blood tests at your veterinarian. In most cases, treatment is steroids such as prednisone, and sometimes blood transfusions are given to put healthy red blood cells back in the body. If needed, chemotherapy drugs have been used in treatment of AIHA.

Immune Mediated Anemia (IMHA) is an autoimmune disorder also related to AIHA. The body begins to think of the dogs red blood cells as diseased and begins destroying them in the body. IMHA seems to come on much faster and can be life threatening. The symptoms include tiredness, exercise intolerance, increased thirst in some dogs, weakness, fever, rapid heart rate, diarrhea and vomiting, as well as some others. If you see one or more of these signs in your pet for more than a day, you will want to see your dogs vet as soon as possible.

This disorder can be brought on by AIHA, lupus, certain antibiotics, heart worm disease, a tumor in the body, or even for unknown reasons. Some dogs are predisposed to it due to genetics, so try to find out the pet parent’s medical history, if possible. Once at the vet, your dog will have blood tests, a physical, and most likely a urine sample. In some cases, x rays are taken as well as bone marrow samples and other needed tests. Treatment includes fluid therapy and blood transfusions. In many cases, more than one blood transfusion will be given. Steroid treatment and chemotherapy drugs may be used, as well. The cockapoo would then be monitored closely and put on cage rest. Sometimes the spleen will be removed because it will decrease the creation of so many antibodies in the dog. Dogs can live a normal life without a spleen making this a good choice in some cases.

Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT) is a complicated autoimmune disorder related to the blood and platelets. We received information about this disorder from one of our readers who ultimately lost her cockapoo, Honey Bun, to this sickness. She was kind enough to write an entire article about this, but we wanted to add a quick paragraph in here also. IMT can present as dark spots on the skin resembling bruising, dark stool that could mean the presence of blood, blood in the urine, pale gums, nose bleeds and/or gum bleeding, vomiting blood, pinpoint red spots on the skin, as well as weakness and lethargy. This disorder can be genetic, and we have found that the cocker spaniel and the poodle breeds are both susceptible to it. It can also be brought on by unknown causes, but often accompanies a reaction to medicine that the dog has taken, or injury and surgery that cause severe bleeding. IMT brings down the blood count and platelet levels in the body, and makes it hard for the body to regenerate needed blood. The IMT attacks the blood cells and makes the blood not able to clot correctly. If your cockapoo shows any of the symptoms, they should see a veterinarian immediately. The treatments will most likely include steroids in high doses, and fluids may be given intravenously. Blood tests would be done frequently during treatment, and once the dog is past the immediate danger, they will need blood tests a few times a year to make sure all is well in the body. It is also likely that they will require lifestyle changes due to their compromised immune system.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that attacks all the body’s systems. It is a large formation of antibodies in the body that begin attacking a healthy system. The body’s immune system becomes hyper-defensive and begins fighting against itself. Symptoms can include painful joints, skin lesions, lethargy, loss of appetite, skin ulcers, and hair loss, lameness in the legs and swollen lymph-nodes. The cause of SLE is unknown and the only advice for prevention is not to breed dogs that have had it. If you see any symptoms like this in your dog, have him checked out. Extensive blood testing will be done, as well as a urinalysis. SLE can usually be treated at home with medications from the veterinarian and keeping your dog on bed rest. Medications will likely include corticosteroids and immuno-suppressive drugs. The vet will want to see your dog weekly at first and this disease has a long term effect, so the dog would need medication throughout the life.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis, or HGE, is a disorder that we have written about a few times before, but we cannot stress enough the importance of getting medical attention as soon as possible if you experience this with your dog. This sickness is characterized by vomiting and diarrhea, which can quickly becoming blood coming out of all orifices in the body. It comes on quite quickly and can be from bacterial infection or toxins. It can also happen if your dog eats food out of the ordinary for him, or something that is too rich. The tests at the vet will include blood tests and fecal tests. Fluids will quickly be put into the body and usually an anti-nausea and anti-gas regimen is given. Sometimes blood transfusions have to be given and steroids can be used. After treatment, rest is highly recommended and a bland diet is given for several days. Keeping Pedialyte and Famotidine on hand will help to stave off some of the symptoms if needed. Often, a dog that has had HGE will have a recurrence, so you have to be careful.

Last, but certainly not least, is cancer. Dogs are susceptible to the same types of cancer as humans. Common types that occur in dogs are lymphoma, testicular cancer, bladder cancer, brain tumors, bone cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, and mammary carcinomas. Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over 2 years old. Warning signs of cancer include lumps and bumps on the skin, lameness or swelling in the bones, enlarged lymph nodes, wounds that don’t heal and any abnormal bleeding. Veterinarians recommend spaying and neutering pets to prevent certain types of cancer, and feeding a healthy diet, as well as good oral hygiene for your dog. Avoiding carcinogens also will help. When your vet gives your dog her yearly check up, they will ask if you have seen any of these symptoms. They will do the necessary tests to determine what may be going on with your cockapoo and begin treatment. Dogs can survive cancer if treated early and well. Dogs have access to all the same cancer treatment as humans, but bear in mind, it will be very costly. Radiation treatment and surgery are common. The veterinarian will be able to work with you to determine the right course of action.

Although we know this article may be scary to some, knowing what to watch for will be helpful in caring for your dog. As always, pay close attention to your cockapoo’s health and wellness, and you will likely be able to catch any problems that may arise, early.