Cross-sectional study of approaches to diagnosis and management of dogs with immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia in primary care and referral veterinary practices in the United Kingdom.
ObjectivesTo determine whether veterinarians in primary care practices (PCPs) and board-certified clinicians (BCCs) approach treatment of dogs with immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA) similarly, and whether practitioners with more experience treat similarly to those with less experience. We hypothesised those in PCPs would show more variation in their approach to similar cases than BCCs.
MethodsA cross-sectional study was conducted by distributing a questionnaire to BCCs and veterinarians in PCPs. The questionnaire included direct questions and a number of clinical scenarios intended to capture approaches to common treatment problems.
ResultsQuestionnaire responses were received from 241 veterinarians, including 216 in PCPs and 25 BCCs. Veterinarians in both settings used similar tests for diagnosis of IMHA, but BCCs performed more tests to exclude underlying causes of 'associative' disease. All veterinarians reported use of similar initial dosages of glucocorticoids (median 2 mg/kg per day in both groups, p = 0.92) but those used by more experienced practitioners were higher than those with less experience. Most veterinarians made allowances for the weight of dogs, using lower prednisolone dosages in a clinical scenario involving a 40 kg dog compared to a 9 kg dog (p = 0.025 for PCP, p = 0.002 for BCC). BCCs reported greater use of combinations of immunosuppressive drugs (p<0.0001) and of antithrombotic drugs (p<0.0001); use of antithrombotic drugs was also less common among more experienced practitioners compared to less experienced.
ConclusionsApproaches to treatment of dogs with IMHA differ between BCCs and those in PCP. These differences may affect design and implementation of future research studies and clinical guidelines.