Submitted by Marsha Johnson
For almost 20 years I have been looking for information on Malignant Histiocytosis (MH) in dogs so I could better understand what happened almost 20 years ago.
In 1986 I purchased a male Greyhound puppy. He was lively, active and thrived. He was a true joy! When he was six months old I began training classes with him and started taking him to conformation matches. His structure was everything a Greyhound owner could hope for.
At around six to seven months of age I noticed that he seemed to be roaching his topline when I set him up. This didn't make any sense to me and if I tried long enough, I could straighten him out. He won at matches and took his first points from the puppy class when he was 10 months old.
Shortly after his win, he became ill. Nothing I could really pinpoint, but he was becoming more and more lethargic and didn't seem to have the same appetite he usually did. One day I let him into the kennel to go to the bathroom. There was a lot of snow on the ground. I was horrified to see that his urine was the color of strong coffee!
I called my vet immediately and took him down. Upon examination, the vet found that he had ulcers in the mucous membranes of his eyes and mouth and he was also jaundiced. The vet decided to keep him for tests. It was at that point that he started to deteriorate rapidly. Blood tests showed an elevated white cell count but that was attributed to an 'infection'. There was a slow but steady increase in temperature. He went totally off his food. When he did eat, he would vomit. The vet put him on KD diet and he did a little better on the lamb but not for long. And he became increasingly weaker.
Please remember that this was a long time ago and I have since lost all the paperwork I had on the case so I am giving you the details as I remember them. Unfortunately, as I'm sure you know, it is not an easy thing to forget!
No matter what tests the vet did he could never make a diagnosis. At one point Boomer became so weak we took my sister's Siberian in and Boomer was given a transfusion which perked him up briefly.
At one point the dog looked so weak I hesitantly suggested euthanasia. My vet wanted to 'give it a few more days' and told me to take Boomer home for the week end and see if he did any better. Bad idea!
I had to carry him up and down the stairs that first night to get him outside. By Saturday morning he was so weak he couldn't stand. I had him on the living room floor on blankets and had to keep paper towels under him because he would urinate. That night, he was so bad I knew he could die any minute. I took him to the emergency clinic for euthanasia to end his suffering. He was only eleven months old!
I requested the emergency clinic vet do a necropsy and take tissue samples which I took to my own vet. My vet sent the liver and spleen samples to Cornell University Veterinary Department for analysis. After examining those samples, Cornell contacted my vet and requested he send them all the samples that were taken. It was several weeks before I heard from Cornell and when I did, I was told that my beautiful puppy died from Malignant Histiocytosis.
They found malignant cells in lung, liver, spleen, lymph node, cardiac, brain and testicle samples. In other words, it had spread through his whole body.
Also, when I first took Boomer into my vet he weighed 93 pounds. At the end he was down to 57 pounds.
After checking with other veterinary colleges, it was determined that his was the first case of Malignant Histiocytosis ever diagnosed in a Greyhound.
I believe the first symptoms were at six months of age when he began roaching his topline (from pain?). The progression was very slow from six until about ten months of age. The more the disease progressed, the more rapid the progression was.
Boomer had a litter sister who died of 'liver failure' when she was five to six years old. No necropsy was ever done on her.