If you wish to get a dog, you must be sure not to end up with one that is vulnerable to a fatal disease like leukemia. It is nice to have pets at home because they can be extremely good companions. However, it is always safe to check whether it is susceptible to a potentially fatal blood disorder, if you are adopting a dog. All dog breeds can get leukemia, but as owners who love their loyal pets you want to be able to catch the early signals so you can better help your dog.
Leukemia in dogs is a blood related cancer that is caused by cancerous blood cells multiplying in the bone marrow. Depending on how rapidly the cancer cells are multiplying will usually determine whether this is an acute or chronic form of leukemia. The acute form means the progression of the cancer is very rapid. In other words the mutation of the blood cells that have become cancerous begin to multiply rapidly and the body is unable to regulate the production of these cells and it also means that the cancer affects the blood cells at an early stage rather when they become mature. Conversely, the chronic form is exactly opposite of the acute form. It is diagnosed when the cancer cells multiple in a slower progression and it affects the cells when they are fully mature.
There are different types of leukemia depending on which blood cells they are affecting. Some types of leukemia include acute acute / chronic myelogenous leukemia (AML / CML) and acute / chronic lymphoctic leukemia (ALL / CLL). The differences are by the types of blood cells they affect and the other factor being development progression of the cells.
The form of leukemia that occurs most commonly in our pets is lymphocytic leukemia where it affects the lymphocytes or white blood cells that develop in your bone marrow. This disease in canines can affect any breed and it still remains a question as to what actually causes this form of cancer. Any kind of dog is prone to leukemia. Depending on the stages of the cancer your will determine the severity of your dog's condition and prognosis.
As a responsible pet owner you want to watch for the obvious symptoms such as abnormal behavior, excessive bleeding, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, pale gums, thirsty, seizures (although not common), and any signs of poor health from your dog should all be taken into consideration. If you have a feeling that your dog is sick it is always a good idea to bring your pet to the veterinarian and get checked.
If you explain to the veterinarian all the symptoms you have observed then they will take a blood sample and send it into the lab for analysis. They will analyze the blood count, the reticulocyte count which is the immature blood cells, conduct a urine analysis, perform x-rays, perform a bone marrow biopsy, and several other tests to get a comprehensive outlook of your dog's health in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
If your dog becomes diagnosed with leukemia there are a number of methods your pet's veterinarian will discuss with you about on how to best treat your pet. There is the option to use chemotherapy drugs or radiation depending on the localization of the cancer. If the doctor has identified the dog as having a very low red cell blood count they will typically recommend a blood transfusion.
Your pet's doctor will also be prescribing medication for home treatment. Due to the weakened state of your pet's immune system they may be susceptible to other illnesses so you have to really limit the amount of contact your dog has to other outside animals. The safe way is to keep your dog in the house as much as you can.
These times can place great amounts of stress on your pet as well as you the owner. The best thing you can do for your pet is to follow up with your doctor once a week unless there is an emergency. Your doctor will want to monitor your dog's blood cells count. You want to administer medication to your dog as directed by the doctor and speak with the doctor if you are having issues administering the drugs.
To ensure the pathway to stabilization for your pet it is going to require both veterinary care and following the doctor's instructions on how to care for your pet when you are home. There is unfortunately no known cure for leukemia in dogs, but as a responsible pet owner you can do your best to keep your pet as comfortable as you can.