Caring Quality Service
160 Main North Road, Papanui, Christchurch
Northlands Animal Hospital
Science DietNorthlands Animal Care Hospital
Braveheart Award Braveheart of the Month - Maisey


Maisey had been a well dog who enjoyed her daily walks and regular appearances at her local football club on the weekends.

She presented to us for her annual vaccination. On presenting physical exam she was well, so was vaccinated against all the major viruses and kennel cough.

Unfortunately, 6 hours after the vaccination, Maisey became lethargic and Mr Park noticed blood in her urine and digested blood in her faeces. There had been no known exposure to Rat bait (warfarin).

Physical Exam

On physical exam the following day, Maisey was very lethargic, she had multiple bruises on her skin and her urine looked like blood. She was also bleeding from injection sites in her skin.

A complete blood count (CBC) was performed on the spot in hospital, to measure the number of platelets and circulating red blood cells (RBC) in her system.

Blood was also collected and sent away for special clotting tests (coagulation profile) to assess if she had been exposed to rat bait.

The CBC revealed a dangerously low platelet count of 2 (normal is 300-600 and less than 60 animals are at risk of a SPONTANEOUS BLEED). Her RBCs were also reduced which indicated that Maisey was bleeding internally. With such a low number of platelets, Maisey was at risk of having a bleed in the brain which could have killed her.

Platelets are made in the bone marrow and are part of the body’s first line in forming a clot. The body is constantly repairing itself, so Maisey body was unable to plug the old and damaged vessels due to the shear LACK of platelets in her system.


Maisey received a whole blood transfusion (pic on the right) from one of our nurse’s dogs called Meesha.

Her special coagulation blood tests returned normal so this eliminated the possibility of Maisey being poisioned by Rat Bait (warfarin).

Maisey also started immunosuppressive (This decreases the body’s immune response) therapy and after 1 week, her system finally started making platelets.


A decreased platelet count can be due to 3 main things:

  1. decreased production from her bone marrow
  2. destruction of platelet
  3. Increased useage (ie infection)

Signs which may indicate that there is a problem in an animals number of platelets include:

  1. Bleeding from the nose, eyes or bottom
  2. Bruising on the belly and gums
  3. Blood in the urine and tarry looking poo

In Maiseys case, the cause was DESTRUCTION of the platelets by her own immune system.

Other causes of platelets destruction include:

  1. drugs
  2. cancer
  3. infection

Good on you Maisey!Outlook

Maisey is still on drugs to dampen her immune response, so she no longer destroys her own platelets.

As Maisey’s body responds, her medication is slowly reduced and monitored closely. Maisey may eventually be weaned off all medications in the distant future depending on her response.

At present Maisey is enjoying life, returning as the mascot for her local rugby team!

Good on you Maisey!