Myeloproliferative Disorders in Dogs

Myeloproliferative Disorders in Dogs

Health & Safety

Myeloproliferative disorders in dogs is a term that describes a group of conditions where too many cells are produced in a dog's bone marrow. Fortunately, the conditions are quite rare although they are classed as being blood cancers even though a dog's neoplastic tissues are not affected. Any breed can be affected by myeloproliferative disorders and sadly the reasons for this remain unknown.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

Dogs suffering from the condition show definite signs of there being something wrong with them with symptoms associated with the disorder including the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Anaemia
  • Persistent, recurring infections
  • Pale gums and other mucous membranes
  • Loss of weight
  • An enlarged liver and spleen

The Causes

As previously mentioned, why dogs develop this disorder remains unknown and more research into myeloproliferative disorders need to be carried out to establish why this is so.

Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would need to have a dog's full medical history and how the first signs of there being something wrong first manifested themselves. The vet would thoroughly examine a dog suspected of suffering from a myeloproliferative disorder and would usually recommend carrying out the following tests which would help confirm a diagnosis:

  • A biochemistry profile
  • A urinalysis
  • A complete blood count which would help establish any abnormalities such as whether a dog is suffering from anaemia
  • Abdominal X-rays which would help confirm whether a dog's liver is enlarged
  • Bone marrow biopsy which would establish any abnormalities in cell line production

The vet would also want to rule out any other health issues that may be causing the symptoms and this includes the following:

  • Abnormally large red blood cells
  • Leukocytosis
  • Leukopenia

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, there are no treatment options available for dogs suffering from a myeloproliferative disorder although a vet would usually prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat any secondary infections that may arise and which would help prevent any infections from flaring up. A vet might recommend that a dog sees a veterinary oncologist who would be in a better position to assess their condition and recommend how to proceed should they think a dog can be treated with chemotherapy.

With this said, an oncologist once they have assessed a dog's condition might suggest chemotherapy, but this would depend on how the severity of their condition at the time of the initial examination. If a dog's condition is deemed severe, they would usually need to be hospitalised so they can be given fluids and blood transfusions to correct any imbalances before anything else can be done for them.


Sadly, the prognosis is never good for dogs when they are diagnosed as suffering from myeloproliferative disorders and often it is much kinder to put them to sleep rather than let them suffer unnecessarily.

Living with a Dog Suffering from Myeloproliferative Disorders

Should a dog have been diagnosed as suffering from the condition, they would need to have regular blood and bone marrow tests during their treatment to make sure they are responding well to any treatment a veterinary oncologist might have set in place and to see if their condition has got progressively worse. Sadly, if a dog’s condition is very severe, it is often much kinder to put them to sleep rather than let them suffer.



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