By combining with other substances in the blood, platelets can create clots to stop blood loss and heal wounds. Low platelet count or thrombocytopenia can affect any dog, no matter their age, breed or sex, and lead to serious health problems. A regular check-up with a veterinarian will help prevent the issue before it occurs or gets out of hand. Now let's find more information about this condition.

Causes of Low Platelet Count in Dogs

There are four causes for low platelet count or thrombocytopenia in dogs:

  • Removal of platelets from the dog’s general circulatory system (a biological process called sequestration): An enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), and splenic torsion are 2 main causes of this condition.

  • Immune system annihilating too many platelets for some reason: Causes of this condition may include Infections like babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and heartworm, primary immune-mediated (autoimmune) thrombocytopenia, or lupus, some toxins, or certain drugs like certain vaccines or sulfas.

  • Too much blood clotting where platelets are used up in large droves: This can be resulted from a cancer called hemangiosarcoma, vasculitis, endotoxic shock, or disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).

  • Bone marrow producing less platelets: This can be caused by ehrlichiosis, bone marrow issues like certain anemia or leukemia, estrus, radiation or chemo therapy, or medication like estrogen meds or chloramphenicol.

Symptoms of Low Platelet Count in Dogs

Fortunately, there are several recognizable symptoms for this ailment. However, symptoms rely greatly on how many platelet your dog has. Although most of the following symptoms are bleeding related, depending on the severity, you may not see any bleeding at all. Let's get more details:

  • Weakness

  • Appetite loss and frequent exhaustion

  • Nosebleeds (rare but can occur)

  • Blood in urine

  • Bleeding from  mucous membranes, gums included

  • Bleeding from its gastrointestinal tract, resulting in soot- or tar-like stool

  • Prolonged bleeding after a surgery or injury

  • Hemorrhaging in your pet’s eye and under the skin, especially in the groin and ventral abdomen (belly)

How to Diagnose Low Platelet Count in Dogs

A healthy dog should have about 175,000 to 500,000 platelets per microliter of blood. And anything below is considered low. Here are ways that a vet may use in examining your dog:

  • A complete blood count diagnosis may be performed through which you can learn any abnormalities in your dog's platelet, white and red blood cells.

  • With low platelet count, you will need to (as accurately as possible) share your dog’s recent history and activities with the veterinarian. For instance, if your dog bled due to a trauma some time ago, that could causes it to have fewer platelet in blood. 

  • The vet will perform a physical examination, but you will need to provide details of previous vaccinations and administered drugs, if any.

  • Aside from tests to determine your dog’s clotting capability, a coagulation profile may also be carried out. 

  • A bone marrow sample may be required via biopsy or aspiration. It will help decide if there is a low platelet production rate in the marrow or if there are signs of bone marrow cancer.

  • Ultrasounds and X-rays are reserved for more serious cases of low platelet count in dogs. 

How To Treat Low Platelet Count in Dogs

The whole course of treatment depends on the severity and the underlying cause of low platelet count in dogs. 

  • Blood transfusions will be called for if the count is life-threateningly low. 

  • Where there are infections, antibiotics will be administered. 

  • Immuno-suppressing drugs, especially corticosteroids, will be used for Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia to prevent a dangerous whiplash on your dog’s immune system. 

  • Cancer, if discovered, will follow its own unique treatment course.

Note: Often, an underlying disease could cause low platelet counts, much like lymphoma or leukemia. A platelet or blood transfusion will happen only if thrombocytopenia is the primary cause. Transfused platelets, however, last only a few days. In cases where anemia or severe hemorrhaging is involved, your pet will need whole blood transfusions.

General Cost of Treating Low Platelet Count in Dogs

Diagnosing result determines cost. Here we summarized costs for the main treatments when dealing with low platelet count in dogs:

  • A leukemia diagnosis will cost what cancer treatment generally would for pets, $455 to $4,800 (including antibiotics and pain medication). 

  • Surgery alone will cost $1,500. In case your pet is diagnosed with lymphoma, you are looking at anything from $734 to $1,150 (including antibiotics and pain medication). 

  • Treatment costs drastically fall when low platelet count is the sole cause . Platelet transfusion demands only $150 to $420 per unit. Whole blood transfusions, on the other hand, will be up to $500 per unit. It is common for pets to receive blood worth $1,000 in a single day. Of course, your dog's condition has the final say on the cost.


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