"Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD) in Dogs

"Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD) in Dogs

Health & Safety

Certain breeds are more predisposed to suffering from a serious blood disorder than others namely pyruvate kinase deficiency or PKD as the condition is often referred to. It is an enzyme that plays an essential part when it comes to energy generation and when negatively impacted in any way, it results in a deficiency which prevents red blood cells from metabolising. This in turn sees dogs developing anaemia as well as other blood-related health concerns.

The breeds most at risk

As touched upon, certain breeds are more susceptible to developing PKD than others and this includes the following:

  • Basenji
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Beagle
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Chihuahua
  • Pug
  • Dachshund
  • American Eskimo Dog

The Cause

Research has established that dogs inherit PK deficiency and that the disorder is a genetic defect acquired at birth.

Symptoms associated with PKD

The symptoms most commonly associated with pyruvate Kinase deficiency are as follows:

  • Anaemia
  • Muscle wastage
  • Weakness
  • Pale mucus membranes
  • An elevated heart beat
  • An inability to exercise
  • Jaundice – a rarer symptom associated with PKD

Diagnosing the problem

A vet would need to have a dog’s full medical history and be told how the onset of any symptoms first presented themselves. The vet would then thoroughly examine a dog suspected of suffering from PKD before carrying out specific health tests which would help them establish a definitive diagnosis. The sort of tests a vet would typically recommend carrying out could include the following:

  • A full blood count
  • A biochemistry profile
  • A urinalysis

The blood test would establish if there is an increase in the number of platelets, white blood cells and whether a dog is suffering from severe anaemia. The test would also establish whether a dog’s red blood cells have an abnormal shape and colour.

A biochemistry profile would reveal if there is too much iron in a dog’s blood, if there is a slight increase in bilirubin and if there is an increase in their liver enzymes.

A urinalysis could establish if a dog’s bilirubin is elevated which is a compound that occurs when red blood cells break down. It is excreted in a dog’s urine after having travelled to the liver and bile duct.

Treatment options

The only available treatment for dogs suffering from PK deficiency is for them to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, the treatment is extremely expensive and is often life-threatening in itself.

Living with a dog with PKD

Sadly, when left untreated, dogs suffering from pyruvate kinase deficiency typically succumb to their symptoms when they are around 4 years old because of liver or bone marrow failure. The majority of dogs diagnosed with the condition also suffer from severe anaemia and a build up of fluid in their abdominal cavities.

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