Cancer: Leukemia Symptoms

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Dogs are correlated with different forms of leukemia disease, i.e. acute and chronic.The size of the population of white blood cells in the bone marrow represents the acuteness of disease. If more then 30% of WBC (white blood cells )are noted in the bone marrow, an acute form of leukemia is suspected. This is a relatively dangerous condition. A dog may show acute symptoms such as persistent fever, anemia, weight loss and weakness. A dog would at once stop eating and will show no interest in activities due to lethargy. Death occurs in a few days or weeks if left untreated.

On the other hand, the chronic form of the disease may take months to years to develop. (called pathogenesis). Mild or unnoticed fever and progressive anemia (pale gums, lethargy, low red blood cell count) are the only noticeable signs. Some dogs survive for months to years, but once cancerous tissues overcome the immunological phenomenon or ability of the body to fight the disease, severe symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite and anemia are exhibited. When this occurs, the dog has reached an advanced stage of leukemia, which is incurable.

General Symptoms:

Clinical dog leukemia symptoms are highly non specific and could lead to a late diagnosis if the condition is misunderstood or misdiagnosed. Since leukemia is a relatively uncommon condition in dogs; unfortunately most cases are usually not properly diagnosed due to the non specific symptoms and the required complicated laboratory studies.

Fever, loss of appetite, anemia, weakened cellular strength, weight loss, lethargy and generalized loss of conditions are some common symptoms associated with canine leukemia, but none of them represents the disease specifically.

Specific Symptoms:

Clinical symptoms are always non specific for this condition. A laboratory test profile can help in suspecting the presence of leukemia in dogs. Neutropenia, an increased population of neutrophils, which are white blood cells in circulation, causes severe problems such as immune balance. This the immune system not operating properly, a dog can get secondary infections caused by resistant bacteria. Non regenerative anemia is another symptom, associated with the addition of cancerous myeloid tissues that circulate in the blood. The body fails to generate enough healthy blood cells to overcome a progressive loss of RBC’s in circulation, thus paleness in the soft tissues and anemic symptoms are therefore exhibited.

Thrombocytopenia (drop in cells that help blood clot) and the presence of blast or immature cells in circulation represents the weakened cell strength. The patient’s body may not resist even minor bruises and if an injury occurs, severe bleeding is noted. The mechanism associated with blood clotting fails.


Chemotherapy combined with the use of antibiotics may help during treatment, but unfortunately is not considered to be effective. All treatment options are therefore focused on improving a dogs quality of life and the enhancement of a dog's life span.

Symptomatic and supportive therapies can help to improve a patients quality of life. Supplementation with vitamins and minerals not only help to reduce the effects of symptoms but also minimizes the adverse effects of any chemotherapeutics used. Folic acid supplements and blood transfusions can help when overcoming anemia. Some available natural remedies such as C-Caps on other hand can help to improve cellular strength.