Blood Related Deficiencies in Dogs

Pancytopenia in Dogs

The term pancytopenia does not refer to a disease itself, but rather to the simultaneous development of a number of blood-related deficiencies: non-regenerative anemia, leucopenia, and thrombocytopenia. The root word pan refers to all or whole, and cytopenia refers to a lack of cells circulating in the blood.

Nonregenerative anemia is a condition characterized by a low red-blood cell count and the bone marrow’s lack of response to produce additionally needed red-blood cells; leucopenia refers to a low white-blood cell count; and thrombocytopenia refers to a low platelet and thrombocyte count (the cells that function in blood coagulation). 

Pancytopenia can affect both cats and dogs, and may develop from a number of multiple causes. There is no specific age, or breed of animal known to be more susceptible to the development of pancytopenia.

If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

The symptoms that develop in the dog depend largely on the underlying cause leading to pancytopenia. Some symptoms of leucopenia (low white-blood cell count) include repeated episodes of fever, and frequent or persistent infections. Some symptoms of anemia due to low red-blood cell count include sluggishness and pale gums.

Low platelet count due to thrombocytopenia may lead to tiny pinpoint bruises on the dog’s body, referred to as petechial hemorrhate, or bleeding from the moist tissues of the body, known as mucosal bleeding. Other general symptoms may include lethargy, bleeding (i.e., nosebleeds or blood in the urine), and fever. 


There are a variety of causes for pancytopenia. These include infectious diseases, such as hepatitis; the tick-born disease ehrlichiosis, exposure to poisons such as thallium; proliferative diseases such as bone marrow cancer; and immune-mediated diseases such as aplastic anemia, in which the bone marrow loses its ability to produce red-blood cells.

A veterinary exam is necessary to determine the underlying cause of pancytopenia, and to diagnose the condition itself.  


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your pet, including a complete blood count, and a chemical blood profile. Other possible tests include urine analysis, immunologic tests for infections diseases, and a bone marrow examination. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, and onset of symptoms, if any. 


A cell that aids in clotting


A type of nucleated cell used for clotting


A blood cell deficiency; applies to all types of blood cells


The condition of being drowsy, listless, or weak


A condition in which the liver becomes inflamed


A condition of the blood in which normal red blood cell counts or hemoglobin are lacking.

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