Platelets are a small component of the blood that contributes to proper blood clotting. There are also these same particles that are found in a dog’s blood. They gather in the place where a wound occurs to prevent the blood from flowing out from the animal’s body. Together with other ingredients of the blood, they receive signals that trigger them to stick together in the wound.
Platelets in dogs can also be measured through a complete blood cell count, or commonly called CBC. The dogs should have an average platelet count that ranges from 175,000 to 500,000 per microliter of blood. If his platelet count drops lower than 20,000 to 23,000 per microliter of blood, it could lead to a blood disorder, or worse, hemorrhage which can be fatal for the animal.
Take note that the platelet also has a short life. It is, therefore, essential that the bone marrow should continuously produce enough of it to sustain the body’s needs. If any disorder occurs, that can interrupt the manufacture of new platelets to replace the damaged or lost ones.
Thrombocytopenia is a condition in which the body produces an extremely low platelet count. Some causes of this condition are congenital, while others can be acquired. It could lead to your pet’s suffering if it is not treated immediately. It is, therefore, vital to bring your dog to the veterinarian if any of the following symptoms occur.
- Urinary bleeding
- Excessive coughing
- Excessive bruising
- The dog may also collapse during severe cases
In some cases, the dog may not always show symptoms if he has a low platelet count. It can only be determined if the problem becomes severe or a blood test is performed. A gum bleeding may occur if he chews hard foods. You may also notice that he bleeds after an injection. Red rashes may also occur because the capillaries are getting damaged, causing leaks under the skin.
Causes of low a platelet count in dogs
Platelet disorder can occur when the dog’s bone marrow produces a few or impaired platelets. The animal may suffer from the high risk of bleeding if this condition continues. The use of drugs may also lead to low platelet count because it can fight the antibodies that protect the body and strengthen the immune system.
Bacterial toxins may also attack your dog’s body. The antibodies are not enough to fight them and causes them to get damaged. Allergic reactions and kidney failure can also trigger the body to produce low platelets. A tumor can also grow in the bone marrow which can mess up the production of platelets.
Sometimes, the spleen can also become enlarged which causes it to trap more platelets. As a result, there are a few of them left to flow into the bloodstream and travel all throughout the body. The administration of drugs like penicillin, aspirin, and acetaminophen can also cause thrombocytopenia.
The dog’s immune system can also destroy the platelets because it doesn’t recognize it as an essential component of the body. It treats the platelets as bacteria or foreign material. This condition is called immune-mediated thrombocytopenia or IMT.
Various diseases can also decrease the production of platelets. Some of these are cancer or neoplasia, infectious diseases, and a problem with the immune system. Tick born diseases like Anaplasmosis can also cause thrombocytopenia. Too much blood loss can increase the dog’s chance of developing a low platelet count.
This condition may also occur if the platelets being produced by the bone marrow are destroyed before they are fully developed. As a result, there are not enough platelets traveling in different organs of the body.
Treatment and Diagnosis
There are certain ways to determine the platelet count of dogs. One of these methods is complete blood count. The veterinarian will compare the result to the average platelet count that your pet should have. He should also determine if the issue is related to hemorrhage.
A bone marrow sample may also be conducted to see if the problem lies in it. An x-ray or ultrasound may also be necessary to identify if some organs are ruptured, or internal bleeding is present. A platelet transfusion is one of the excellent solutions which can normalize the platelet level of the dog. If anemia is present, an entire blood transfusion is therefore recommended.
Other procedures that can be conducted are coagulation testing, chemistry profile, and tests for infectious diseases. The veterinarian may also run an anti-nuclear antibody (ANA), a method used to check the response of the immune organs to the chest and urinalysis.
For dogs suffering from IMT, the dog may need to be hospitalized to receive care. The pet will be given immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporine A, azathioprine, and steroids. If anemia occurs, the veterinarian may recommend a blood transfusion. The immunosuppressive drugs will be given based on the symptoms shown by the animal.
You must also provide additional support like milk thistle which will help regulate the organs during the medication. It is also advisable to stop the drugs or vaccines taken by the dog before he developed IMT. The pet has a higher chance to get well if it has a positive impact on your pet.
Severe blood loss should be treated promptly because it can be fatal for your pet. A platelet transfusion can save your dog’s life.
Other ways to help your dog recover from low platelet count
A low platelet count may vary from case to case, and treatment is based on the symptoms seen on your pet. It is advised to take away objects that may cause injury or wound to your dog. A cut can lead to severe cases so make sure to limit his activity.
You must also provide your dog foods that are soft to chew to prevent bleeding on his gums. It is essential to bring him to the veterinarian regularly to monitor his platelet count and to make sure that his body is responding to the medical treatment.