In-depth Information on Therapy
Therapy and prognosis for the different types of leukemia are quite different. ALL tends to have a very poor prognosis, and affected animals often succumb to secondary infection. Although the cancer cells may respond to therapy, the presence of secondary complications often creates severe illness. In addition to being at risk for infection, these patients are often profoundly anemic, may develop life threatening bleeding disorders, and can even suffer from neurologic disease such as seizures and strokes. Unfortunately, pets with ALL often die within days to months of diagnosis. Animals with CLL, on the other hand, can do quite well and will often live several years with appropriate treatment. The mainstays of therapy are listed below.
Follow-up Care for Dogs with Leukemia
Optimal treatment for your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not improve over the expected time frame. Administer all prescribed medications as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your dog.
Follow-up will include weekly evaluations of the CBC to monitor red and white blood cell counts and platelet levels. This is one important way to measure response to treatment. Additional bloodwork, such as biochemical profiles may also be needed, depending on the results of the original profile.
Just as important as the lab results, physical examination by your veterinarian on a weekly basis is imperative until the disease process is considered to be stable or in remission. Your veterinarian will monitor weight, body condition, and temperature and palpate lymph nodes and internal organs to assess their size.
Repeat x-rays or ultrasound exam may be indicated to track changes in organ size as well.
Once your pet is stable, less frequent exams will be needed, but close contact with your veterinarian is required for the life of your dog.
Monitor your dog at home for signs of lethargy, continued weight loss, anorexia, and general weakness. Learn how to check your pet’s temperature with a rectal thermometer and call the veterinarian if a fever is present. A temperature greater than 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit in a resting animal is abnormal. Remember that body temperature may rise with exercise and a warm environment.