Dog Polycythemia | Information on Canine Polycythemia
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Polycythemia in Dogs

Definition of Polycythemia

Polycythemia, also called erythrocytosis, refers to an increase in the number or concentration of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Several distinct forms of polycythemia - relative, transient and absolute - occur in dogs. Relative polycythemia can be caused by anything that reduces the liquid part of blood, such as dehydration, bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea and kidney disease. Transient polycythemia is triggered by excitement, fear, anger, surprise or anything that make the spleen contract, injecting RBCs into circulation. Absolute polycythemia occurs when the bone marrow increases production of red blood cells. Dogs with any type of polycythemia can have behavioral changes, difficulty walking, nose bleeds, red or pale mucous membranes, breathing problems and impaired vision. They may become weak, disoriented and fatigued. Some develop seizures, uncontrollable shaking and other symptoms. It is important to figure out which type of polycythemia a dog has to develop an appropriate treatment protocol.

Causes and Prevention of Polycythemia in Dogs

There are several distinct forms of polycythemia in domestic dogs: relative, transient and absolute. Absolute polycythemia can further be broken down into primary and secondary forms. It is important to determine which type of polycythemia is involved in a given dog, so that treatment can be tailored appropriately.Relative polycythemia, sometimes called spurious polycythemia, refers to an apparent, but not actual, increase in the number of circulating red blood cells. Relative polycythemia can be caused by

Symptoms of Polycythemia in Dogs

There are several different forms of polycythemia, each of which can cause symptoms that may appear slowly or suddenly. Owners of affected dogs may notice one or more of the following signs:Unusually high concentrations of oxygen, carried by unusually high numbers of circulating red blood cells, can cause mild to severe tissue damage over time. Left untreated, polycythemia – especially the absolute form of the disease can lead to additional symptoms, including:Dogs experiencing these symptoms

Diagnosing Polycythemia in Dogs

The initial database for a dog presenting with the nonspecific signs associated with polycythemia usually includes a baseline complete blood count, total plasma protein measurement, serum chemistry panel and urinalysis, in addition of course to a thorough history and physical examination. These tests may help to distinguish between the relative and absolute forms of this disorder.Other diagnostic tools include assessment of blood erythropoietin levels, blood gas oxygen values and pulse oximetry oxygen saturation values. Radiographs

Treatment and Prognosis for Polycythemia in Dogs

Polycythemia, also known as erythrocytosis, is an abnormal increase in the number or concentration of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). The symptoms and treatment of polycythemia vary greatly depending upon the underlying cause of the condition. It is important to determine which form of polycythemia is involved, so that an appropriate treatment protocol can be implemented. Most forms of polycythemia are treatable, and the sooner the treatments are started, the better. Secondary absolute polycythemia tends

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