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Diagnosing and treatment of Acute Leukemia in dogs

(Last Updated On: 22/04/2017)

Acute Leukemia in Dogs

Acute leukemia in dogs is a disease in which cancerous lymphoblasts that is; cells that are in the beginning stage of development and prolymphocytes that is the cells in the intermediate stage of development reproduce, and then circulate through the bloodstream, entering into the body’s organs. These cells will also infiltrate both the inside of the bone marrow and the outside, condition also known as extramedullary of the bone marrow, displacing hematopoietic stem cells.  Hematopoietic cells are the normal, healthy precursors of red blood cells, lymphocytes, erythrocytes, platelets, eosinophils, neutrophils, macrophages and mast cells. Acute leukemia in dogs will acquire impaired immunity, and will be inclined to contracting infections.

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 The symptoms of acute leukemia in dogs are generalized illness, no specific symptoms, tiny, non-raised purple spots on the skin, from hemorrhages beneath the skin (petechia), or dark red-purple spots on the gums, from ruptured blood vessels under the skin (ecchymotic) and inconstant symptoms, depending upon which organs have been infiltrated by neoplastic (abnormal) cells. The causes of acute leukemia in dogs are suspected but not proven, however they are, Ionizing radiation, Cancer-causing viruses and Chemical agents. If you see any of these symptoms in your dog then immediate vet’s attention is required.

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Diagnosing and treatment of Acute Leukemia in dogs

For diagnosing acute leukemia in dogs your vet asks you a thorough history of your dog’s health and onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, taking into account the background medical history, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. If cancer is suspected, your doctor will also need to take bone marrow biopsies (samples) for a microscopic (cytologic) examination of the cells. If malignant cancer cells are present, the examination will show lymphoblastic infiltration of the bone marrow. Abdominal x-rays may also be taken to check for an enlarged liver and/or an enlarged spleen. Patients can normally be treated on an outpatient basis. However, if your dog has low levels of red blood cells, platelets (the cells responsible for clotting), or other blood clotting factors, it should be hospitalized and given blood transfusions to prevent excessive bleeding. If your dog has been diagnosed with leukemia, your veterinarian will also prescribe a chemotherapeutic medicine to halt the growth of malignant cells. You will need to wear gloves when you give this medication to your dog.

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Acute leukemia in dogs needs to be treated properly; the dog must be kept isolated from other animals. Your dog’s system will lack an immune response (immunocompromised) as a result of both the cancer and the therapy. In the process of destroying fast growing cancerous cells, chemotherapy will also destroy white blood cells responsible for fighting invasion, making your pet prone to infection. Even a simple cold can quickly become a fatal case of pneumonia. Red blood cells can also be affected; one possible side effect of a low red blood cell count is anemia. And blood platelets, the cells responsible for coagulation (clotting), can be affected as well. A low platelet count can result in bruising and excessive bleeding. Animals suffering from this disorder are prone to hemorrhage from lack of platelets. Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your pet’s peripheral blood count and bone marrow status. Unfortunately, the prognosis for Acute leukemia in dogs is grave and unknown.

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