"Myelofibrosis in dogs

"Myelofibrosis in dogs

Health & Safety

Myelofibrosis is a type of disorder that develops in the dog’s bone marrow, as a result of the development of scar tissue. This is a condition that can affect dogs and also people; in people, myelofibrosis may be either primary, which means it develops on its own without another root cause underlying the issue, or secondary, which means a condition that is caused by another originating problem.

Dogs with myelofibrosis display the secondary form of the condition, which can develop as the result of another underlying health condition as a secondary complication. Myelofibrosis in the dog is a serious health condition that often eventually proves fatal, although there are some exceptions.

Whilst myelofibrosis in dogs is not a hugely common health condition, it can develop in dogs of any breed or type and at a variety of different ages. There is no breed-specific propensity for any given dog to have higher risk factors for myelofibrosis than others.

However, some of the most common primary health conditions that can lead to the development of myelofibrosis as a secondary complication do tend to occur more in certain breeds and types of dogs than others, such as pyruvate kinase deficiency, which breeds such as the Beagle have elevated risk factors for.

In this article we will explain in more detail what myelofibrosis in dogs is, why it might develop, its symptoms, and how the condition can be managed and cared for. Read on to learn more about canine myelofibrosis.

What causes canine myelofibrosis?

Canine myelofibrosis is a disease of the bone marrow, it and occurs when damage to the bone marrow itself results in scarring, changing the texture and functions of the bone marrow into a type of connective tissue.

Myelofibrosis in the dog develops as a result of another underlying health condition, and has not been known to develop in dogs as a primary or standalone condition. Canine myelofibrosis may occur as a complication of another health condition, or even as a result of the use of certain medications and treatments used for another health condition too.

Some of the health conditions that can cause the development of myelofibrosis in dogs include pyruvate kinase deficiency, septicaemia, tick-borne diseases, haemolytic anaemia, and a number of other systemic conditions too.

Some of the medications and treatments that may result in scarring of the bone marrow and so, the development of canine myelofibrosis include radiation treatment for canine cancers, and other common veterinary drugs such as certain medications for seizure disorders, and some anti-inflammatories too.

However, the risks of developing myelofibrosis as a result of medications is relatively small, and this risk will be factored into your vet’s decision about the most appropriate care and medication to use for your dog’s condition.

What are the symptoms of myelofibrosis in dogs?

If your dog has a primary health condition or is on certain medications that increase the risk of canine myelofibrosis developing, your vet will monitor them and examine them regularly to check for any signs of problems.

However, it is also a good idea for dog owners to learn the symptoms of myelofibrosis in dogs, in order to stand a better chance of being able to spot them if they do develop.

The symptoms of myelofibrosis in dogs often include one or more of the following:

  • Joint pain or discomfort when moving around.
  • A tendency to bruise or bleed easily, as myelofibrosis affects the blood cells that are responsible for wound healing and clotting.
  • Enlargement of the spleen, which might result in an enlarged and hard-feeling abdomen.
  • Lack of energy and interest in exercise and play; general lethargy.
  • Loss of appetite and interest in food.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • A tendency to get out of breath easily, and a poor tolerance for exercise.
  • A weakened immune system, which may result in your dog being much more prone to picking up bugs and infections, and having a harder time shaking them off when they do.

How is canine myelofibrosis managed or treated?

Currently, there is no definitive cure for myelofibrosis in dogs, and it cannot be reversed or eradicated entirely. This means that caring for a dog with myelofibrosis is limited to reducing the impact of the condition, limiting its severity and impact on your dog, and supporting their health as much as possible.

Myelofibrosis in dogs is an advanced and serious condition that will often prove fatal eventually, although your dog’s lifespan and quality of life can both be greatly improved with the proper care and management.

There are a number of different approaches that your vet might take to managing myelofibrosis in your dog, depending on a variety of factors pertaining to the progression of the condition and your dog’s general health.

These might include:

  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy to slow down and limit the extent of the fibrosis of the bone marrow.
  • Removal of the dog’s spleen if the spleen is involved and complicating the condition or causing problems for the dog.
  • Blood or platelet transfusions for any anaemia caused by the condition.
  • The use of certain medications that are designed to increase the body’s production of red blood cells and so, limit the symptoms and effects of the condition.

Your vet will advise you of the benefits and limitations of the various different management options for canine myelofibrosis, and also of course, work to treat and manage the underlying condition causing it.

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