Possible Blood Disorders Your Dog May Have!
It is a Sunday afternoon and Gram and I are enjoying sitting in the shade of the patio having a conversation about dogs and health. It surprises me how much my Gram knows about dogs and their health problems, since she is currently a cat person and knows far too much about cats,as far as I am concerned.
However, she and I feel that it is important that dog owners know about possible blood disorders that dogs may be suffering from and so we thought you might find this article of interest.
As a dog owner, we may be aware of many things concerning the health of our dog (s), but blood disorders are something most of us do not understand.
The chief function of a dog’s blood is to supply oxygen and nutrients to the body’s tissues and to carry carbon dioxide and many waste materials away from them.
However, that is not the only job the blood has to do. The blood is a key contributor to such things as cell development, repairing tissue and warding off infections. A dog’s blood is much like our own; it contains red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma.
Dogs are susceptible to many blood disorders such as low platelet counts, low red-cell counts, high white-cell counts, clotting problems, blood-related cancers and even poisonings.
One of the most frequent blood disorders our dog friends face is anemia. Anemia in itself is not a blood disease, it causes a lack of circulation of oxygen. There are two forms of this disorder, regenerative anemia where the red blood cells are reduced in number as a result of tissue destruction or chronic bleeding. An example of this would be a deep bleeding wound creating a blood loss. However, if the bleeding was internal caused by a form of parasite or gastro-intestinal bleeding, the blood loss could go on for a long period of time before it was noticed.
The other form of anemia is non-regenerative anemia, here the bone marrow fails to restore fast enough the red blood cells that have been destroyed or have other wise become useless. What causes this? Chronic kidney failure, cancer of the bone or even a tick born disease.
Some dogs such as springer spaniels and basenjis have often been found to have hereditary anemia.
There are many other blood-related problems that are seen in our canine friends on a frequent basis and they are:
Cancers of the blood (acute and chronic leukemias) caused chiefly by an increase in the number of white blood cells in the bone marrow or blood circulation. If not treated these diseases can lead to bone marrow failure and the loss of organ function throughout the dog’s body.
Anticoagulant rodenticide toxicity is otherwise known as poisoning. The ingredients in the poison used to kill rats and mice causes a dog to develop a bleeding tendency. It will take a few days to develop and it can cause the dog to bleed through nose and mouth or through its urine and stool. Should the bleeding be internal, it can go on for awhile and not be noticed until severe shock sets in and you notice a respiratory problem. This type of poisoning can be fatal if not treated as soon as possible.
Von Willebrand’s disease is a bleeding disease caused by a lack of a certain protein in the system that normally causes the platelets to stick to the lining of a damaged blood vessel. A dog with this disorder may have frequent nosebleeds and have blood in their stools. Some breeds such as Doberman pinschers commonly suffer from this problem. Treatments used are blood transfusions.
Thrombocytopenia is another name for low platelet count, usually caused by an infection, a drug reaction, cancer or other causes. It causes the immune system to treat the platelets as though they were a foreign body and destroys them. Symptoms of this disorder are bleeding gums; oddball skin bleeding, instant bruising and bleeding from a wound that should stop relatively easily.
How can you be on the lookout for these and other blood disorders? Veterinarians suggest that after the age of six years your dog should have a complete blood work done. This would include a complete blood work count (red, white, platelets and plasma) and a chemistry panel that can show problems in organ functions and determine if the dog’s blood has the right amount of electrolytes it needs to function properly.
As an owner you should be aware of some of the signs that could lead to blood disorders such as pale gums, bleeding gums, lack of energy, blood in the urine or stool. Any of these signs should indicate a trip to the vet is necessary and as soon as possible.
The complete blood work tests and chemistry panel are relatively inexpensive and very easy on the dog. You can have the results quite quickly and in this case an ounce of prevention by having these tests done may save your dog’s life and you a bundle of money in health care costs.