My dog has been diagnosed with thrombocytopenia. What happens now?
(Q) My dog’s been diagnosed with thrombocytopenia. What is it and what causes it? What is the treatment?
(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: Thrombocytopenia means low platelet levels in the blood. The platelets are fragments of larger cells designed to block up sites of blood vessel damage, and are of paramount importance in the clotting of blood. Low platelet levels can lead to blood loss, bruising, and anaemia.
Thrombocytopenia may be the result of auto-immune diseases, which cause destruction of platelets due to abnormal immune system activity, or certain types of leukaemia-type disease, such as blood cancers, which affect platelet production.
Tests, such as blood tests and examination of blood under a microscope, may be needed to determine the cause of thrombocytopenia; ultrasound scanning may also be helpful.
Once the cause has been identified the most appropriate treatment can be chosen. This might be anti-cancer chemotherapy in certain cases, or immune-modulating drugs such as steroids.
Response to the treatment depends on the cause. Some dogs make a rapid recovery, while others are harder to treat.