Symptoms of Leukemia in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015

How Leukemia Affects Dogs

The symptoms of leukemia in dogs tend to be vague and non-specific. They often mimic the symptoms of many other systemic diseases - those that affect multiple organs or body systems – and usually involve general symptoms of weakness, fatigue and nausea, none of which can be pleasant for the affected animals.

Symptoms of Leukemia

Owners of dogs with leukemia may notice one or more of the following clinical signs:

  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite (inappetence; anorexia)
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • General malaise
  • Abdominal pain (gastrointestinal disturbances)
  • Abdominal distention
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale mucous membranes (pallor)
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenomegaly; lymphadenopathy; usually mild)
  • Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly; usually marked)
  • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly)
  • Bleeding disorders (internal or external hemorrhage; nose bleeds [epistaxis]; unusual bruising)
  • Lameness (with bone involvement)
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty breathing (labored breathing; dyspnea)
  • Elevated respiratory rate (tachypnea)
  • Elevated heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Increased frequency and volume of urination (polyuria)
  • Increased thirst and water intake (polydipsia)

Dogs at Increased Risk

Acute leukemia is more common in middle-aged dogs, averaging about 5 to 6 years of age. Chronic leukemia is more prevalent in older dogs. However, dogs of any age can be affected by either form of this disease.

Dog Health Center


Cancer in dogs is defined by the uncontrolled transformation of normal cells into abnormal ones, which usually form masses, invade nearby tissue, and ultimately spread.

Learn more about: Cancer