Leukemia in Dogs | Treatment and Prognosis

Treatment and Prognosis for Leukemia in Dogs

Treatment Options

In most cases leukemia can be treated or managed, but rarely can it be cured. Treatment goals are to eradicate the cancerous leukocytes if possible, restore normal bone marrow production of red and white blood cells and their precursors, provide good supportive care to the dog and relieve the patient’s discomfort. Remission, which is the reduction or temporary cessation of the observable signs of an illness, is the ultimate therapeutic goal of treating leukemia. Veterinary oncologists, who have specialized training in diagnosing and treating canine cancers, should be consulted to get the best diagnostic and treatment advice in any given case.

Dogs with acute leukemia usually require aggressive inpatient supportive care. This typically involves intravenous fluid therapy, administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics and possibly blood transfusions if the dog is suffering from severe anemia. Forced nutritional support may also be necessary, especially if the dog has not eaten for several days. Dogs with chronic leukemia may or may not require such intensive supportive care, although antibiotics are often part of their treatment protocol, as well.

The classic treatment for canine leukemia is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy involves treating the disease with anti-cancer drugs that target rapidly dividing or growing cells. Unfortunately, the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract are normally rapidly dividing and growing, which is why chemotherapeutic treatment is often associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other forms of gastrointestinal distress. While chemotherapy will not “cure” leukemia, it can help put the disease into remission by killing many if not most of the circulating malignant white blood cells. The affected dog may need to be hospitalized during the treatment process, because chemotherapeutic medications are potent, powerful and can have a number of potentially dangerous side effects. Dogs that respond well to chemotherapy may need to be treated periodically for the rest of their lives.

Prognosis

Unfortunately, the prognosis for dogs with acute leukemia is poor. However, current statistics are not especially reliable, because acute leukemias are relatively rare and many owners elect to euthenize their dogs at or shortly after the time of diagnosis rather than pursue a course of chemotherapy. The disease progresses rapidly, and most dogs suffering from acute leukemia are quite ill by the time their condition is diagnosed. If they are not treated or only receive supportive care, average survival times may be less than 4 weeks. Chemotherapy may or may not increase that period to several months or more. Either way, the outlook is not good.

Dogs with slow-onset, chronic leukemia have a better long-term prognosis. With appropriate supportive care and a good response to chemotherapy, survival times of 1 to 6 years have been reported, depending upon the white blood cell line involved. Chronic leukemias tend to progress slowly, which is largely why affected dogs have a better chance of enjoying longer survival times than do those with acute-onset leukemia.

Source: PetWave

MATCHING TOPICS OF INTEREST

Dog Nerve Disorders

Nerve Disorders in Dogs: Learn about Nerve Disorders, including how it can affect your dog,...

Canine Melanoma

Melanoma in Dogs: Learn about Melanoma, including how it can affect your dog, and what...

Lupus in Dogs

Lupus in Dogs: Learn about Lupus, including how it can affect your dog, and what...

Dog Coughing

Coughing in Dogs Guide: Veterinarian reviewed information about canine Coughing, including how it affects your...

Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Heartworm Disease in Dogs: Learn about Heartworm Disease, including how it can affect your dog,...

PETWAVE: POPULAR TOPICS

Dog Health Dog Health
Learn about the most common diseases affecting dogs
Puppy Training Getting a Puppy
A new puppy in the house can cause quite a whirlwind of excitement
Dog Breeds List of Dog Breeds
Comprehensive list of dog breeds with specific breed information

Find a Dog Breed?

With so many dog breeds to choose from, sometime it's easier to seach based on certain characterisitcs.

Caring for your Dog?

There is more to caring for your dog than just feeding it. Find out all you need to know to make sure your pet stays healthy.

Training your Dog?

A dog's behavior plays a key role in making a great pet. Training your dog makes a happier dog, and you will be happier too.

Ask a vet?

Have a question?
Ask a Vet Online NowSM

Ask a Vet

About Us | Review Board | Badges | Tell a Friend | Bookmark this Page | Submit Feedback | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Dog Breeds | Cat Breeds | Dog Health | Cat Health | Dog Training | Cat Training | Dog Care | Cat Care | Dog Adoption | Cat Food & Diet

Advertise on petwave.com - A Pet360 Media Network Partner

Become a Fan of Petwave.com on Facebook Become a Fan on Facebook Follow PetWave.com on Twitter Follow PetWave.com on Twitter Email Friend about Petwave.com Tell your friends about PetWave

© 2014 PetWave Corporation. All rights reserved
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian. PetWave disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
For more information view our Terms of Service.