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Thrombocytopaenia In Dogs

When a dog's platelet count drops to low levels, it is a condition called Thrombocytopaenia. These platelets are produced in a dog's bone marrow before they are released into their bloodstream and they play an important role in making sure that when a dog injures itself in any way, they do not lose too much blood. If platelet levels fall too low, blood continues to flow which could become life threatening as it can lead to haemorrhaging. However, if a dog's condition is diagnosed early, there are several treatment options available with the prognosis being generally good.

Signs to Watch Out For

When a dog's platelet count falls too low, there are several obvious signs there is something wrong which includes the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Small heamorrhages in the mouth – petechiae
  • Haemorrhaging under the skin
  • Bleeding gums and other mucous membranes
  • Nosebleeds
  • Haemorrhaging in eyes
  • Pale gums
  • Blood in urine
  • Blood in faeces
  • Prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery
  • Fever
  • Blood in urine
  • Excessive coughing
  • Excessive nasal discharge
  • Heart murmur
  • Collapse

The Causes

A dog might develop Thrombocytopenia for several reasons or because they are suffering from some other health disorder. The most common causes are as follows:

  • A dog is suffering from Leukemia
  • They may have developed Lymphoma
  • A decrease in the number of platelets produced by the body
  • An extreme loss of blood due to haemorrhaging
  • An increased destruction of platelets in a dog's body caused by some sort of infection

 Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would need to have a dog's full medical history before carrying out a thorough physical examination. They would need to rule out any injury or trauma as being the cause of a dog's low platelet count before carrying out any in-depth blood tests. In some cases, a vet might recommend taking bone marrow samples to rule out any other underlying health issues. If internal bleeding is suspected, a vet would need to take X-rays as well as ultrasounds to make sure this is not the case. A dog would need to be given general anaesthetic for the procedures to be carried out.

Treatment Options

When a dog is diagnosed as having a low platelet count, they would need to be given a platelet transfusion and in some instances a vet might recommend a full blood transfusion, more especially if a dog is showing signs of anaemia. If a dog's condition is due to some underlying health issue, the vet would need to treat the root cause. However, a dog might need to have ongoing veterinary treatment to manage their low platelet count and this could last for the remainder of their lives.

Living with a Dog Suffering from Thrombocytopaenia

Dogs with the condition are more at risk of bleeding excessively when they injure themselves in any way. This could involve internal haemorrhaging as well as severe external bleeding. A vet might recommend that dogs suffering with the condition be only given gentle exercise and they may even suggest feeding them wet food because dry kibble may well make a dog's gums bleed.


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