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Thrombocytopenia in Dogs

By: Dr. Leah Cohn

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Thrombocytopenia refers to an abnormally low blood-concentration of platelets, which are blood cells that promote blood clotting after injury to the lining of the blood vessels. When the concentration of platelets becomes too low, bruising and bleeding may occur. Dogs with blood platelet concentrations of less than 40,000 per microliter of blood are at risk for spontaneous bleeding.

Abnormally low platelet numbers in blood can be caused by a variety of disease processes. These include failure to produce new platelets in the bone marrow, premature destruction of circulating platelets often by the body's own immune system, sequestration or storing of platelets in organs, and consumption of platelets at a rate that exceeds production in the bone marrow.

Dogs of either gender, any age and any breed can suffer from thrombocytopenia.

The severity of bleeding associated with thrombocytopenia depends on how low the platelet numbers fall. In general, the lower the platelet count, the more likely bleeding is to occur.

What to Watch For

  • Small red spots on the white parts of the eyes (sclera), the gums or the skin
  • Bruises on the skin (ecchymoses)
  • Nose bleeds (epistaxis)
  • Bloody urine
  • Bloody stool

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