Leukemia In Dogs

Understanding the Condition

It is a form of cancer which originates when there is an escalation in the white blood cell counts in the bloodstream and the spinal cord. It can be either chronic or acute, latter being more malignant. There are two main types of the condition:

  1. Lymphocytic leukemia, caused by abnormal growth in the lymph nodes.
  2. Myelogenous leukemia, caused by abnormal growth in the bone marrow.

If not taken care off, the signs and symptoms can worsen the disease, and can eventually result in the death of the patient. If the owner stumbles upon any symptoms of the illness, he should immediately consult an experienced vet, more precisely a veterinary oncologist.


The symptoms and signs of the conditions ranges, and depends on the type of leukemia, and whether the condition is chronic or acute. The acute variation of the disease quickly worsens, and needs immediate attention and treatment.

It mainly affects the senior dogs. Various health journals point out and mentions the sixth year of a dog' life, when a dog has the maximum risk of developing this deadly disease. Below are some symptoms which are easily visible, and can indicate acute leukemia:

  • Whitish gums
  • Whitish tongue
  • Reduction in the appetite
  • Cut in the weight
  • Prolonged weakness
  • High fever
  • Severe vomiting
  • An escalation of thirst
  • Abnormal suffering from dehydration
  • Irregular breathing and heart rate
  • Extended episode of laziness
  • Bleeding and bruising easily
  • Delay in healing and recurrent infections
  • Diarrhea in its chronic stage
  • Inability to walk
  • Sudden aggression

Signs of chronic leukemia may not get spotted easily initially. It is because, the condition takes months, even years to develop in an animal. Some of our furry friends will not show any sign at all when there are diagnosed. In many cases, the disorder is discovered through accidental blood work. In the majority of cases, the disease is seen in senior dogs, above the age of ten years. Below are signs which may indicate chronic leukemia:

  • A prolonged period of laziness
  • Reduction in the appetite
  • Sudden onset of Anaemia
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Excessive spreading of the spleen
  • Bleeding and bruising excessively

These signs mentioned above can resemble some other form of cancer, along with some other condition, so the vet will have to pay an immediate visit to the vet for further consultation.


In the majority of cases, the disease develops suddenly, due to an abnormal mutation in the bone marrow. There are many other factors responsible for the development of the condition. These other factors include an abrupt contact with radiation, interaction with few viral infections, exposure to toxic substances in the environment, etc.

Leukemia In Dogs


The most common form of diagnosis is through complete blood work. Diagnosis in most of the cases happens this way. Well, in most of the cases, an accidental revelation of the disorder happens through a blood work. The real diagnosis happens when the vet conducts a thorough biopsy or a bone marrow aspiration. The dog can suffer from pain during diagnosis and requires anesthesia.


A majority of cases needs treatments and management by various means, but the total cure for the disease is a rarity. The goal of the experts usually is to resurrect the proper functioning of the white blood cells, to reduce the signs, and most importantly cut discomfort. Treating the condition with chemotherapy sessions is the generalized norm, and while the courses may not cure the disease, it will drastically slow down the progression of this deadly disease. In most of the cases, acute leukemia is fatal than chronic leukemia. The acute variation needs immediate and aggressive care from the experts.


It is because there isn’t a definitive cause for the condition, there isn’t a list of some concrete preventive measures, one can use to prevent the condition.

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