Canine Leukemia Prognosis

Canine leukemia can be a devastating diagnosis in your pet. The prognosis will depend on the stage and type of leukemia that your pet has. If your dog has leukemia, it is not necessarily a death sentence, but catching the condition early is the best way to ensure any type of recovery.

What Is Canine Leukemia?

Leukemia in dogs is caused by an unusually massive increase in white blood cells, which in turn harms the blood and bone marrow. Canine leukemia is caused by a genetic mutation of the bone marrow. This cancer of the blood can be classified as either chronic or acute leukemia, and can affect both the bone marrow and the lymph nodes.

Chronic Leukemia

Chronic leukemia in dogs occurs when cancerous white cells lose the ability to ward off harmful infections and diseases at a slow rate. This type of leukemia causes your pet to progressively become more and more sick. Chronic lymphoid leukemia, also known as CLL, will eventually lead to compromised immunity, bone marrow destruction and the formation of deadly cellsin the body and organs. This type of leukemia begins in the bone marrow, but it often moves into the spleen, blood, lymph nodes, nervous system, liver and other vital organs.

Acute Lymphoid Leukemia

Acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) forms and spreads much more rapidly. Because it is a more rapid and destructive cancer, the prognosis for this type of leukemia is not as good as it is for CLL. With acute lymphoid leukemia, your pet will likely show signs of bleeding and anemia. Other symptoms will include panting, fever, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes, pale complexion, loss of weight, dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea. Acute leukemia will result in death very quickly if it is not treated promptly. Older dogs are more likely to have the acute version. 

Prognosis for Canine Leukemia 

The prognosis for acute leukemia is not good. Death will usually result within a few months after being diagnosed. Chronic leukemia, on the other hand, may hold a better prognosis for your pet. Canines have been known to live anywhere from months to several years after being diagnosed with chronic leukemia. 

The best way to ensure any kind of recovery is to catch the disease in the early stages. While your pet may not live a long life after being diagnosed with leukemia, there are ways to make his time remaining more comfortable. Treatments may include white blood cell reductions, which may have to be repeated several times. If you notice any signs of canine leukemia in your pet, don't hesitate to contact a veterinarian to receive a proper diagnosis.