Pancytopenia In Pets<< Back to Pet Health Blog
Pancytopenia is a health condition in which multiple blood disorders develop. These include non-regenerative anemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia.
- Non-regenerative anemia: low red blood cell (RBC) count or decreased RBC production in the bone marrow.
- Leukopenia: below average white blood cell count.
- Thrombocytopenia: decreased platelet count and low thrombocyte (cells that play an important role in forming blood clots) levels.
Pancytopenia can flourish in canines and felines for various reasons. Some of the factors that contribute to the condition’s development include liver disease, close contact with certain poisons, ehrlichiosis, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.
Pancytopenia symptoms can vary depending on the primary cause of the condition.
- Pale mucous membranes
- Decreased activity
- Recurrent infections
- Unusual bruising
- Petechiae (red dots caused by ruptured tiny blood vessels)
- Bloody nose or urine
A physical exam, complete blood count (CBC), chemistry blood test, and urinalysis are essential for diagnosing pancytopenia in pets. The CBC allows vets to check blood cell counts, including white blood cells, red blood cells, thrombocytes, and platelets, which are important for a diagnosis. The chemistry profile, on the other hand, checks electrolytes (potassium, sodium, etc.), blood glucose, and blood urea nitrogen to creatinine levels. Additional tests that may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other health conditions include urinalysis, feline leukemia virus test, and bone marrow test.
In order to treat pancytopenia in pets, the underlying cause must first be identified. Once the primary problem is found, it can be treated accordingly. Treatment may consist of antibiotics, WBC stimulating drugs, RBC stimulating drugs, and a blood transfusion.
Hospitalization or outpatient treatment will be recommended depending on the severity of the condition. Either way, your vet will schedule frequent follow-up appointments to conduct a physical exam and run a CBC test to see how your pet is recovering. It’s very important to closely monitor your pet once he is home. Notify your vet of any abnormalities, such as fever, bleeding, lethargy, and decreased appetite, immediately.
There is no way to completely prevent pancytopenia in dogs or cats. However, you can keep your pet current on vaccinations and preventative medication in order to minimize his risk of contracting pancytopenia-causing diseases. Lastly, pets diagnosed with cancer should also undergo regular testing to check for low blood cell counts, as pancytopenia can result from the condition.