Thrombocytopenia in dogs can cause nosebleeds, pale mucous membranes, as well as bloody urine.
If it is severe enough, it can also cause bleeding in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract that will be produce black and tarry stool, or fresh blood in the stools.
It can also cause hemorrhages in their eyes, as it can be that dangerous.
However, unlike some other bleeding disorders, it does not always cause excessive bleeding to occur in your dog.
Thrombocytopenia in dogs is a disorder that refers to abnormally low blood concentrations of platelets which are fragments of special cells that are necessary for the proper clotting of blood.
If your dog’s blood vessel is either cut or it breaks, these platelets immediately gather around the sites where they automatically stick together to form a plug.
If everything is operating properly in your dog, their small blood vessels can have extremely small breaks and they are still plugged up very quickly.
However, if they count starts to become low, this process does not function properly.
There is one misconception about Thrombocytopenia; it does not always cause excessive bleeding.
Although the bleeding does occur quite often, it is very helpful to understand the entire process.
If your dog is completely healthy, they will have more than 600,000 platelets per micro-liter of their blood.
To put this into its proper perspective, this equates to about one millionth of a quart.
Before any real damage occurs as the result of Thrombocytopenia, the platelet count must fall as low as 10,000 to 40,000 platelets per micro-liter.
Once they fall to these levels, spontaneous bleeding will definitely occur.
However, if it is considered moderate and the counts do not fall to these levels, there will be no bleeding but many of the symptoms may still appear.
This is actually a blessing in disguise to your dog, as it may send the proper warning signs without the damage.
Once they signs have been noticed and your veterinarian can examine them, they may be able to identify and treat the underlying disease before any real bleeding damage can occur.
Thrombocytopenia in dogs can occur as the result of four different breakdowns of normal process.
This includes a decreased production of the platelets by your dog’s bone marrow, as well as an increased usage of platelets through the actual process of blood clotting itself.
The other two causes are the destruction of the platelets by your dog’s own immune system, or by the removal of platelets from the general circulation which is referred to as sequestration.
Each one of these causes is the result of different types of diseases.
Reason One: Decreased Production
The first potential cause of Thrombocytopenia in dogs, decreased production, has several underlying causes in its own right.
The first few causes are not from disease, but rather from medications your dog may be given.
The first cause may be from Estrogen medications, which is used for several different reasons, but the most common is urinary incontinence.
This is followed very closely by usage for diseases of the prostrate as well as several types of tumors.
Chemotherapy or radiation treatment can also trigger Thrombocytopenia, as the normal cycle in female dogs known as Estrus.
Ehrlichiosis may also trigger this condition. Ehrlichiosis is a tick borne disease that is characterized by very high fevers, lameness, as well as bleeding disorders.
However, it is believed that the leading cause of decreased platelet production is the result of bone marrow diseases including aplastic anemia or leukemia.
Reason Two: Increased Usage
The second of the potential causes of Thrombocytopenia in dogs, increased usage in the clotting process, has a completely different set of causes.
The first is a disease known as disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC.
This is a condition where a literal cascade of different events occurs that leads to abnormal activation of the platelets.
Different components in your dog’s system such as fibrin are released, which causes very rapid clotting as well as abnormal clotting to occur.
Another potential cause is from Endotoxic shock.
This is a situation where your dog’s body is not providing adequate circulation to their body tissues.
Vasculitis in the next potential cause of increased usage of your dog’s platelets, and this is the inflammation of their blood vessels.
It is most often associated with rheumatic problems.
The final potential cause of increased usage is from cancer, especially Hemangiosarcoma.
Reason Three: Destruction
The third potential cause of Thrombocytopenia is from destruction of the platelets.
There are some diseases such as Heart worm disease and Babesiosis that can cause this destruction, as well as the medications containing sulfa.
Some vaccinations can also trigger it, but these are not the major cause.
The major cause is from immune-mediated thrombocytopenia. This is a situation where your dog’s own immune system actually targets the platelets.
Your dog’s immune system is extremely powerful, and when it is go haywire and attacks itself, it is very good at what it does.
Reason Four: Sequestration
The final potential cause of Thrombocytopenia is from sequestration, which is technically defined as the loss of blood or its fluid content into spaces with your dog’s body.
When this occurs, the circulatory volume is greatly diminished.
The two major cause of sequestration include splenic torsion as well as an enlarged spleen.
Thrombocytopenia in dogs will show you several symptoms, with the first being a gradual weakness as the platelet count starts to drop. As they continue to drop, more symptoms will appear.
The first real warning sign will be a small pinpoint hemorrhage found on the mucous membranes in your dog.
These spots will be the most noticeable on inside of your dog’s mouth.
As the platelet count continues to fall, you will also start to see large hemorrhages under their skin, especially on their abdomen or belly, as well as their groin area.
By now their nose will also be bleeding and their mucous membranes will be very pale.
However, this is still not all of the symptoms, as you will also start to see blood in their urine as well as perhaps the most frightening of all of the symptoms; hemorrhages in their eyes.
Thrombocytopenia in dogs is a very serious condition that requires professional treatment as quickly as the symptoms start to appear.
However, if you can catch it in the early stages where it is still considered moderate and the platelets have not fallen below the 40,000 threshold, it may be a blessing in disguise.
If caught in this stage, bleeding may be prevented as well as making it much easier for your veterinarian to identify the actual underlying cause.