Leukemia (Chronic) in Dogs

Chronic Lymphocytic Cancer in Dogs

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a rare form of cancer which involves abnormal and malignant lymphocytes in the blood. An integral component to the immune system, lymphocytes can affect many body systems when damaged.

This form of leukemia is rare, but more commonly affects male dogs when compared to females.

Symptoms

The symptoms for chronic lymphocytic leukemia are usually non-specific and may include:

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia) and consumption of water
  • Increased urination (polyuria)
  • Enlargement of lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Lameness
  • Bruises

Causes

The following are suspected but unproven risk factors for chronic lymphocytic leukemia:

  • Exposure to ionizing radiation
  • Cancer-causing viruses
  • Chemical agents

Diagnosis

You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination, as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Blood testing may reveal anemia, abnormally low number of platelets (cells involved in blood clotting), and abnormal increase in number of lymphocytes in blood film observed under microscope. Your pet’s veterinarian will also conduct a bone marrow biopsy, which will provide a more detailed picture into the abnormalities in lymphocyte production.

polydipsia

A medical condition involving excessive thirst

polyuria

Excessive urination

urinalysis

An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness

malignant

Something that becomes worse or life threatening as it spreads

lymph nodes

Small structures that filter out the lymph and store lymphocytes

biopsy

The process of removing tissue to examine it, usually for medical reasons.

leukemia

An increase in the number of bad white blood cells

anemia

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

lymphocyte

A type of leukocyte in the body

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