Leukemia in dogs: what it is, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

 Leukemia in dogs: what it is, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Tracy Wilkins

Canine leukaemia is one of the most feared types of dog cancer. Just like in humans, the disease mainly affects the dog's immune system, causing imbalances throughout the body. Despite being a well-known disease, many people don't quite understand what canine leukaemia is. What causes this condition? How does it develop? What are the symptoms of leukaemia? What does the disease look like?treatment of the disease? Paws of the House t ive all the questions about leukemia in dogs below!

What causes leukemia in dogs?

In everyday life, it can happen that some cells in the body are born with defects. The normal thing is that they do not develop and end up dying without causing any harm. However, in some cases, these mutant cells manage to survive and start generating new cells like them. This is how cancer in dogs arises. Pathology is precisely the set of diseases resulting from the growth of a dog.In the case of leukaemia in dogs, the bone marrow is the tissue most affected. It is not possible to define an exact cause for canine leukaemia, as it is a DNA mutation.

The dog's immune system is the most damaged by canine leukemia

Bone marrow is a tissue present in the innermost part of the bones. Its function is to produce the components of the blood, such as red blood cells (RBCs) and white blood cells (WBCs). The function of WBCs, in turn, is to act in the dog's immune system to protect the body against invading agents such as viruses and bacteria. Because of the imbalance caused by leukemia indogs, the development of the white blood cells present in the bone marrow (the lymphoids) is also impacted.

Canine lymphoid leukemia can be divided into acute and chronic. Acute leukemia in dogs is more common in adult dogs, while chronic leukemia is more common in the elderly. In both cases of leukemia in dogs, symptoms are very similar. However, in acute leukemia it is possible that the pet also presents gastrointestinal problems, in addition to bleeding.

Symptoms of leukemia in dogs may be slow to appear

Canine leukemia can remain asymptomatic for a long time, which makes diagnosis difficult and delays the start of treatment, decreasing the chances of controlling the disease. Another characteristic of leukemia in dogs is that the signs are usually very nonspecific, that is, they are common to different types of diseases. Therefore, identifying leukemia in dogs may not be so easy. Among the main onessymptoms of leukemia in dogs are:

  • Weight loss
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Apathy
  • Weakness
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Low immunity
  • Anemia

The mutated cells that cause leukemia in dogs start to feed on the nutrients they receive and, therefore, weight loss is one of the first most apparent signs. The ideal is to pay close attention to any physical and behavioral changes in the pet. The symptoms of canine leukemia will not attract much attention at once, so it is the guardian's role to take the pet to the veterinarian whenever he notices itsomething different about your body.

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How is canine leukemia diagnosed?

The veterinarian will take into account all the signs that the dog presents to make the diagnosis of the disease. After the clinical anamnesis, the doctor will order some tests to rule out other diseases and come up with some evidence of canine leukemia. The blood test in dogs is one of the main ways to measure the white blood cell count. Many people have doubts about whether the result of aCBC with leukemia shows high leukocyte levels (leukocytosis) or low leukocyte levels in dogs (leukopenia). In this case, canine leukemia causes defective cells to multiply. That is, the number of leukocytes increases, even if many of them are mutations. Therefore, the idea that leukemia causes a low leukocyte count in dogs is not entirely certain, despite the fact that thiscan happen in certain situations.

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In addition to leukocytosis in dogs, symptoms such as enlargement of the lymph nodes, spleen and liver can also serve as a starting point for the diagnosis of leukemia. It is common for the veterinarian to request radiographs of the abdomen, as this helps to assess whether the organs show changes that indicate any signs of canine leukemia.

Chemotherapy is the main treatment for leukemia in dogs

The earlier the treatment of leukaemia in dogs is started, the better the chances of a positive outcome. Chemotherapy in dogs consists of a set of drugs applied into the vein that acts against the defective cells in the body responsible for the development of cancer. This method prevents the recurrence of the disease and metastasis to other organs. The problem is that, in this process, themedicines can also attack healthy cells.

Among the side effects of chemotherapy, low leukocytes in dogs, gastrointestinal problems, vomiting and diarrhea are quite common. Despite being the most indicated treatment, chemotherapy is aggressive and needs to be well monitored. The sessions are done in the veterinary office, where the animal is closely monitored and other drugs can be administered to reduce these effects. BesidesIn addition, it is essential that, even after the end of the sessions, the animal continues to be monitored by the veterinarian to avoid relapses. As canine leukemia weakens the immune system, the pet is more prone to developing other diseases. Therefore, it is essential to always keep an eye on the animal's health throughout the treatment to treat any problems early on.

Tracy Wilkins

Jeremy Cruz is a passionate animal lover and dedicated pet parent. With a background in veterinary medicine, Jeremy has spent years working alongside veterinarians, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience in caring for dogs and cats. His genuine love for animals and commitment to their well-being led him to create the blog Everything you need to know about dogs and cats, where he shares expert advice from veterinarians, owners, and respected experts in the field, including Tracy Wilkins. By combining his expertise in veterinary medicine with insights from other respected professionals, Jeremy aims to provide a comprehensive resource for pet owners, helping them understand and address their beloved pets' needs. Whether it's training tips, health advice, or simply spreading awareness about animal welfare, Jeremy's blog has become a go-to source for pet enthusiasts seeking reliable and compassionate information. Through his writing, Jeremy hopes to inspire others to become more responsible pet owners and create a world where all animals receive the love, care, and respect they deserve.