Portwood dog's Madison started experiencing Immune Mediated Thromocytopenia symptoms "seemingly out of nowhere."

By Kelli Bender
August 17, 2020 05:46 PM
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Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic; Courtesy Amber Portwood

Teen Mom OG's Amber Portwood is speaking out about a disease that suddenly affected her dog and nearly killed her beloved pet.

Earlier this summer, Portwood,  30, noticed her usually "cheerful" and "loving" 4-year-old English Mastiff Madison was acting shockingly out of character, "seemingly out of nowhere."

"I started noticing little spots on her stomach but I thought it was just dirt from playing outside. Then the spots got larger and turned purplish red, resembling bruises. That night she started puking blood," Portwood told PEOPLE.

Portwood rushed the 220-pound dog to a Medvet veterinary hospital near her home in Indianapolis. Veterinarians quickly determined that Madison had zero platelets in her blood. Platelets are blood cells that help blood clot and a dog Madison's size are supposed to have at least 175,000 platelets, according to Portwood, who spoke to Madison's vet about the issue.

Based on this discovery, the vet determined that Madison had Immune Mediated Thromocytopenia (ITP), a disease that causes the immune system to attack platelets causing internal bleeding.

"They did X-rays on her chest, her tummy, everywhere until they could detect the problem. Because her immune system was attacking her, they had to make sure it hadn’t spread to her brain and her lungs," Portwood said of the overwhelming experience.

With no platelets to protect her, Madison required intensive care and chemotherapy treatments to help her body recover from the initial onset of ITP. This scary situation was made easier by Madison's "amazing" vets, who let Portwood know "exactly what was happening when it was happening."

"They’d call me all day, all through the night to update me," she added.

Thanks to this dedicated care, Madison is now back at home but is far from fully healed.

"She takes 10 or 11 pills a day I keep her hydrated with ice water and she’s on a different diet now," Portwood said of how Madison's life has changed. "I have to watch when she goes to the bathroom to make sure there’s no blood."

The dog mom added that she is prepared to take these extra steps for as long as Madison needs, she is just happy the dog that "literally licks the tears" off her face and adores her two children is alive.

"If her platelets go down again significantly she’ll have to go back to the hospital. This is something she could have to deal with for the rest of her life," Portwood added.

She hopes that sharing her story will help other dog owners spot the signs of ITP early, so they can get their pet help before it's too late.

"For all dog owners, be aware of you see any sort of bruising on the stomach, discoloration in the eyes, puking blood, these could be signs of ITP. Don’t take it lightly. Don’t assume your dog chewed on a branch and call your vet," Portwood shared.