Canine Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia

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    Canine idiopathic thrombocytopenia (CIT), also called immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP), is a type of hematologic disease characterized by an abnormally low number of thrombocytes resulting from the destruction of the blood cells by a dog’s own immune system.

    Signs & Symptoms

    Thrombocytopenia may be congenital or acquired. The condition is sometimes associated with abnormal bleeding under the skin or from the gums. Females and small breeds of dogs appear predisposed to immune-mediated thrombocytopenia.

    Susceptible Dog Breeds

    Most affected dogs are middle-aged or spayed females.

    are considered to be particularly susceptible to this disease.4

    Risk Factors

    Numerous factors are involved in the development of acquired thrombocytopenia. These include bone marrow malformations, transfer of maternal antibodies to the newborn, irradiation, and drugs. Drug sensitivity leading to thrombocytopenia may develop within a few days of initiation of drug therapy.

    Discontinuance of the offending drug is rapidly accompanied by a return to the normal platelet levels. Other agents include toxins; viral, rickettsial and protozoan infectionschronic hepatitis; myelogenous leukemia; tumors (hemangiosarcoma); Addison disease; vitamin B12 or folate deficiencies; severe iron deficiency or immune-mediated disorders.

    Increased platelet destruction may also result from overly-active macrophages and other immune-mediated mechanisms. The most common infectious causes of thrombocytopenia in dogs is ehrlichiosiscanine hepatitis virus, and distemper virus.

    Cocker spaniels are believed to be predisposed to canine idiopathic thrombocytopenia disease

    Disease Association

    Thrombocytopenia has also been associated with:

    DIC disorder develops when the dog’s blood-clotting mechanisms are activated throughout the body instead of being localized to an area of injury. As a result, the blood clotting factors are used up to such a degree that they are not available to form clots at sites of real tissue injury.

    Severe bleeding, whether acute or chronic, is unlikely to cause thrombocytopenia because of the extra platelets stored in the spleen and other sites. In mild cases, the affected dog may become lethargic, weak and have nosebleeds. There are multiple pinpoint, purplish-red spots in the mucous membranes and skin due to internal bleeding. Dogs that are more severely affected may have blood in the urine and faeces. The diagnosis of ITP is difficult.

    Diagnosis & Treatment

    Treatment involves corticosteroids alone or in combination with other immunosuppressive drugs. Most dogs recover with single or multiple courses of treatment.

    Video Credits: MercolaHealthyPets
    Image Credits: Clinican’s Brief


    1. Mary Anna Thrall. – Veterinary Hematology and Clinical Chemistry
    2. Nemi Chand Jain. – Essentials of Veterinary Hematology
    3. Susan M. Cotter. – Hematology
    4. Park et al. – Application Of Vincristine-loaded Platelet Therapy In Three Dogs With Refractory Immune-mediated Thrombocytopenia


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