Thrombocytopenia in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Thrombocytopenia is a decreased number of platelets in the blood.

What Causes It?

Thrombocytopenia on its own is a result of severe blood loss, abnormal internal destruction of platelets, or compromised production of bone marrow. It is also a secondary condition of infectious disease, immune-mediated diseases, cancer, enlarged spleen, medications, and toxins.

While thrombocytopenia can happen in any breed, it is common in greyhounds and Cavalier King Charles spaniels.

Blood platelets are essential in forming blood clots. Thrombocytopenia puts dogs at risk for excessive and dangerous episodes of bleeding.

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What Are The Symptoms?

  • Spontaneous bleeding
  • Bruising of skin and gums
  • Bloody stools
  • Blood in urine
  • Blood in eyes
  • Bloody nose

Is it Life Threatening?

Yes, if left untreated excessive bleeding can be fatal. However, most dogs recover completely from thrombocytopenia.

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How is It Diagnosed?

A vet will order blood work to do a full blood count for your dog. The numbers will be the diagnosis. Secondary testing and a medical history questionnaire will help locate the source of the thrombocytopenia. Often the underlying cause will also need treatment.

What Are The Treatments?

The source of the thrombocytopenia will dictate the treatment. Many dogs need steroids to hinder the body’s attack on the platelets. You will work with your vet to taper your dog’s reliance on these drugs to make sure you dog does not suffer unduly from any side effects. There are other medications including intravenous immunoglobulins and chemotherapy drugs can help increase platelet count.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.