As what we often heard, dogs are considered as man’s best friend. Some people treat dogs as their family member. Well, are you a certified dog lover? Then, you must be aware and responsible enough to maintain your dog’s health.
Well, among the common health conditions that dogs may experience is having low platelets count. A low platelet level is a serious trouble for your beloved pet. If you encounter that your dog has a black stool or bruises, it is time for you to see a veterinarian immediately. It is an emergency that needs immediate action as it affects the life and health of your favorite pet.
Thrombocytopenia is the condition wherein your dog has an abnormal and low platelet number (thrombocytes). Platelet production happens in the bone marrow and aids to control or stop excessive bleeding or hemostasis. Normal platelet count is generally 180,000 to 200,000. When your dog reaches a platelet count of 40,000, bleeding is possible to happen in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs or brain.
Low platelet count can occur to your dog regardless of its age. According to studies, 5 % of dogs are admitted to veterinary hospitals because of low platelet level. Platelets bind together to form clot on leaking and broken blood vessels. So, if the unnecessary loss of blood continues, the platelet counts decreases. As a result, your dog’s ability to stop bleeding can be reduced. It can result in excessive bleeding and bruise.
Finding the cause of thrombocytopenia among dogs
It would be a good decision if you took your dog to the veterinarian since internal bleeding can cause your dog to die quickly especially if they don’t receive a blood transfusion. Veterinarians are conducting ‘differential diagnosis’ to find out the cause of your dog’s low platelet count.
It is the procedure of elimination that includes chest X-rays and abdominal ultrasound to rule out cancer. It is also a test for usual tick-borne diseases in your location as well as a blood chemistry panel. The destruction of platelets by your dog’s immune system is called immune-mediated thrombocytopenia. The cause of this condition is not necessarily clear, but this fatal condition can be treated.
Dogs that suffer from this complication are usually hospitalized in the intensive care unit. They receive corticosteroids as well as other immunosuppressive drugs to prevent the body from attacking itself. Dogs also receive drugs for the stimulation of the bone marrow from releasing the immature platelets faster than normal. In the best case of this condition, the dog can commonly respond to the treatment in just three to five days. The disroder can be managed, but not cured. Thus, the dogs need a lifetime medication to control the immune-mediated thrombocytopenia.
Based on scientific studies, the clinical findings of the low platelet count in dogs include the following:
- Surface bleeding and petechial in skin and mucosa, gingival bleeding, ecchymosis, epistaxis, melena, retinal bleeding, scleral, hematemesis, hematochezia, hemorrhagic vaginal discharge, hematuria, and hyphema.
- Lethargy and low energy levels
- Pale mucous membranes
The amount of hemorrhage in dogs in a given platelet count is random. But, the dogs with ITP can have a platelet count of 20,000 without proof of bleeding. Anemia can happen to your dog due to loss of blood or because of the immune-mediated hemolytic anemia or Evan’s syndrome. It is believed that Evan’s syndrome accounts about 30% of all cases of ITP. But, this syndrome is very rare to cats.
Other clinical findings involve the spleen-and/or hepatomegaly as well as fever. The neurologic deficits because of the central nervous system bleeding are also rare to occur. The lymphadenopathy signifies as the secondary cause of ITP like ehrlichiosis.
When it comes to diagnostic confirmation of immune-mediated thrombocytopenia among dogs, all secondary causes are excluded by history, clinical chemistry, hematology, urinalysis, ehrlichiosis, various infectious disease titers, babesiosis, FIV, FeLV and sonography and radiography of the abdomen and thorax.
Dogs with ITP usually have thrombocytopenia of 40,000 platelets upon the presentation. Examination of the peripheral blood smear is also necessary for the assessment of the presence of low platelet count. However, the count of the platelet is important to quantify the severity of the disorder.
The parameters of the secondary hemostasis are in the normal range. Different tests are conducted to determine the antiplatelet antibodies in dogs are developed. The only useful test with good sensitivity is through the flow cytometry or ELISA. In dogs treated with steroids, the test might depict false negative results.
On the other side, the positive test results in dogs in association with thrombocytopenia indicate immune pathogenesis. But, the test can’t distinguish between the primary and secondary ITP. Platelet surface antibodies can be antiplatelet autoantibodies that attack the antigen of the dog’s platelet membrane.
Natural treatment for your dog
If you are afraid of your pet having a low platelet count, you can also do alternative and natural ways to maintain the health of your dog. Natural healing is possible for your dog. Some of the ways that you can do are to let your dog experience fun. Let your pet play and enjoy several activities. Exposure to sunlight and involving in physical activities are all effective ways to beat the risks of low platelet count to your dog. These activities support natural healing mechanisms that can bring back your dog to its normal life.
In addition to that, you can also give fresh air, play time, and healthy and fresh food diet to your dogs to improve its condition. With these simple ways, you can make a big change in the life of your dog. Moreover, natural ways are practical for you to save your money from expensive treatment. Provide your dogs with fresh but not dry foods. The appetite of your pet can help to boost the count of the platelets.
Cooking animal fats is not advisable for your dog’s diet. Take away foods from your dogs that they can’t easily assimilate into their body. These foods include cooked red meats (unless they are boiled), cooked dark meat chicken, poultry skin and turkey.
On the other hand, there are also suggested supplements and vitamins that you can use to support your dog’s health, despite its condition. One of these is a glandular immune therapy that can provide needed nutrients and behave as a trap for the antibodies that attacks the cells of your dog’s bone marrow and inhibits its normal proliferation. Providing your dog with trace minerals and iron can also help to produce the required cells.
If the low platelet count of your dog is a symptom of a more serious disease like lymphoma and leukemia, the problem will undergo treatment. In the treatment process, the platelet count of your dog will be addressed with the use of a blood transfusion or platelet transfusion.
Recovery of low platelet count in dogs
The prognosis of lymphoma and leukemia can vary. But the prognosis for all other causes of thrombocytopenia is excellent. With this, your favorite dog can have the chance to regain and maintain healthy platelet count.
In every case, it is very crucial to limit your dog’s chances of injury or cut which can lead to excessive bleeding during the recovery. Whether the case is mild or severe, you will be instructed by the veterinarian to change your dog’s activities. You can also change the diet of your dogs to avoid such complications. You can prefer to provide your dogs with softer foods to prevent bleeding gums. More importantly, you are also suggested to regularly return to the veterinarian during the recovery process to check the platelet count of your dog.
The response of your dog to an augmented platelet count is expected to happen within 2 to 11 days. Thus, the glucocorticosteroid therapy is associated with its side effects. The recommended dosage of the medication is one-fourth every two weeks. Due to the possible gastrointestinal ulceration with steroids, gastrointestinal protectants like sucralfate and H2-receptor antagonists must be considered.
The platelet count of your dogs can be controlled daily, then every few days. When the platelet count of your dogs is already stable, the normal range is every 2 to 3 weeks.
Prednisolone is also an immunosuppressive therapy solution to treat ITP in dogs. Oral or parenteral dexamethasone at a dose of 0.6 mg/kg each day can be used temporarily. Glucocorticoids can delay the expression and function of the macrophage Fc receptors.
It can result to impair macrophage destruction of the antibody-coated platelets. It also increases the capillary resistance to hemorrhage through several mechanisms.
The reduction of glucocorticoid in the antibody production can happen weeks after the treatment through lowering the rate of the lymphocyte division and the type distribution of T lymphocytes in circulation.
The reduction of T cells can help B cells to produce low antibodies in the immune system of your dogs. Dogs can now regain healthy platelet count.
Cost of low platelet count in dogs
The cost of low platelet count is based on the overall diagnosis. When the thrombocytopenia is a result of leukemia diagnosis, cancer needs treatment. The estimated cost of this is around $455 to $4,800 that includes potential pain medications and antibiotics. An additional $1,500 is added if it requires surgery.
When the low platelet count is a result of lymphoma diagnosis, it will need treatment that cost from $734 to $1,150 that also includes the cost of antibiotics and other pain medications. There is also an additional $1,500 when surgery is required.
But, if the low platelet count is only a diagnosis, the treatment will be cheaper and simpler. The platelet transfusion and blood components can cost 4150 to $420 per unit. In some cases, when the dog is requires whole blood, it can amount about $500 on average per unit. Your dog can possibly go through $1,000 of blood or blood components in just one day. Still, it depends based on the severity of the low platelet count.
If you love your dog, you can be willing to cost an amount to save its life. Satisfaction will be yours if you save the life of your pat from the risks of low platelet count.
Risks of low blood platelet
If your dog has below a normal number of platelets, it can suffer from uncontrolled and severe bleeding. The dog can also experience simple trauma with this condition.
Symptoms of low platelet count among dogs
If you see the following symptoms in your dog, don’t hesitate to seek the help of an expert veterinarian.
- Severe or prolonged blood loss
- Heart murmur
- Excessive bruising
- Urinary bleeding
- Sudden collapse
- Excessive nasal mucus
- Excessive coughing
Types of thrombocytopenia in dogs
Low platelet count in dogs can be primary or secondary. It suggests that it can happen in the absence or as a result of an underlying illness.
Causes of low blood platelet count
The condition of low blood platelets count in your dogs is very dangerous. Therefore, you must be aware of its causes. These causes are summed up in the following:
- Severe blood loss or hemorrhage
- Impaired bone marrow production
- Increased internal destruction of platelets because of infection
Diagnosis of thrombocytopenia in dogs
Your dog’s low platelet count can be easily diagnosed with a complete blood count. Thus, it monitors the abnormalities in white and red blood cell count as well as in the hemoglobin and platelet. Generally, healthy dogs have a platelet count of around 175,000 to 500,000 platelets per microliter of blood. Anything below this amount is considered as low level.
The veterinarian will also consider your dog’s current history to make sure to report certain trauma like bleeding. Thus, it can indicate that the cause of the low blood platelet count is hemorrhaging. Moreover, a testing capability of your dog’s blood and coagulation profile can also be performed.
The veterinarian will take a sample from the dog’s bone marrow for analysis with biopsy and aspiration. In severe conditions, ultrasounds and x-rays are performed to complete the diagnosis.