Definition Leukemia in Dogs
Leukemia is a progressive, malignant disease that involves out-of-control growth of white blood cells (leukocytes) in a dog’s blood and bone marrow. White blood cells are critical components of a dog’s immune system and help protect its body against infection by bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microorganisms. The causes of leukemia are not well-understood. Leukemia cells multiply in the bone marrow and ultimately end up circulating in blood. They rapidly become space-occupying and start to crowd out normal bone marrow cells that otherwise would develop into healthy, mature red and white blood cells. This alteration of the microenvironment in the bone marrow causes a complicated cascade of consequences which includes a reduction in the normal numbers of healthy circulating red and white blood cells. Dogs with leukemia become weak, nauseous and are not able to fend off infections.