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Malinois Recovers from Auto-Immune Disease with Hospitalization, Medication

By Christy True
published: March 26, 2024 - updated: April 26, 2024 • 3 min. read
Nala, a Belgian Malinois

Diagnosis: Auto-immune disease
Cost: $12,084  | Reimbursed: $7,091
Coverage options:  70 percent | $250 deductible

Nala is a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois who is energetic, curious, outspoken, and confident. When she’s not napping on the bed, she’s playing with her sister Peanut, a 3-year-old Labrador, in the yard.

Nala was a stray dog at only six months old when Patricia, her pet parent, first saw her. She quickly fell in love and knew she had to take her home. Malinois are often trained as protection dogs and look intimidating, but Nala is a gentle soul.

“She loves to cuddle any chance she gets. She loves her walks in the parks but instantly wants to chase any squirrel she sees,” Patricia said. 

Bloody vomit causes alarm

One day, about a year ago, Nala randomly threw up blood, and she had black tarry stools. Patricia rushed her to the emergency vet. After numerous tests, they told Patricia her platelet count was a dangerous zero, as platelet counts are typically in the hundreds of thousands.

The lack of platelets meant it was possible Nala could bleed out at any time, so they recommended she stay so they could start administering intravenous medication to increase her platelet count.

While at the vet hospital, they ran some tests and diagnosed her with canine immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP), an auto-immune disease where the immune system destroys platelets within the body when they are misrecognized as foreign, according to the Veterinary Health Center at the University of Missouri. ITP can be inherited or caused by infections, cancer, and drugs. Nala was diagnosed with primary ITP, meaning they don’t know the cause.

Nala was in the hospital for two days, but her platelet count was not increasing fast enough. She was showing signs of severe disease and becoming lethargic. Small pinpoints of blood appeared on her body, and blood was settling under her gums. The doctors recommended a blood transfusion that day.

Two days later, her platelet count had improved to a healthier 50,000, and she was removed from the IV medication. That night, she was ready to go home. Nala still had a long recovery ahead of her. She took steroids every day, and they reported back to the vet once a month for blood work to ensure her platelet count remained steady. After ten months of taking steroids, she was finally able to stop the medication in January.  

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How Nala is doing now

Nala is back to her regular self now that she’s off the medication, and the side effects have stopped. ITP patients can lapse at any time, but Patricia is now aware of the symptoms and constantly monitors her.

“She’s doing great! For now, we take it day by day, and I always try to ensure that she is living her best life! She’s my best friend,” Patricia said.  

How pet insurance helped

When Nala was six months old, she developed a nasty stomach bug. Patricia took her to the vet, and when she discovered how expensive the treatment was, even for something relatively mild, she decided to shop for insurance.

Her best friend recommended Healthy Paws because she said she had been pleased with the coverage and claims process.

The claim scenarios described here are intended to show the types of situations that may result in claims. These scenarios should not be compared to any other claim. Whether or to what extent a particular loss is covered depends on the facts and circumstances of the loss, the terms and conditions of the policy as issued, and applicable law.

Insured persons providing testimonials in this report have not received compensation for their statements.

Christy True and Tomas
By Christy True

Christy has been writing about pets for Healthy Paws for 28 dog years. She also coordinates media requests. A background in journalism may be why she enjoys writing about offbeat animal studies and the latest viral pet trends. She has been owned by several dogs, and she volunteers with a local dog rescue. Outside of work, she can usually be found sliding down a mountain near her home in Bend, Ore.

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