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Thrombocytopenia (low platelets) in American Bulldog

March 16, 2013

Hi folks: Our dear ABD mix Pookie is having some mysterious and potentially serious health issues--I am wondering whether anyone else has had similar issues with their ABD or other dog and might have thoughts re less common issues our vet should consider.

Pookie has been having bruising/bleeding issues for a couple of weeks and has been diagnosed with thrombocytopenia (very low platelets in 17-24k range). Neg for heartworm, von Willebrand disease, tick-borne disease panel, clotting time is normal. Slightly elevated WBC count. Bile acid (liver function) is normal. 1wk on 100 mg/day vit K has not had effect.

Today he is very pale in gums and elsewhere. So he is at the emergency vet, where they're re-running CBC and taking xrays.

He is ~2 yrs old, generally good health other than skin allergies, no meds, has been with us 10 mos and was a stray before that, so no prior medical history. UTD on vax and neutered. Not on any medications; gets salmon oil and solid gold sea meal supplement 2x/day with Darwin's raw food and Origen grain-free kibble.

If anyone knows of something particular to this breed (or anything in general) that they should be looking at, please comment here or PM me. Thanks so much in advance.

Comments (9)

  • prairie_love

    Every time I see a thread with this sort of title, my heart sinks. We lost a dog to thrombocytopenia five years ago (I can't believe it's been that long). It was devastating. In the case of our girl, it was most likely a condition called paraneoplastic syndrome, which is secondary to cancer at another site. Our girl was a flat-coated retriever, a breed particularly susceptible to cancer. I do not know about ABD, so have no idea if they are also cancer prone.

    Even though our experience was so horrible, please please be aware that this most certainly is not always a fatal condition.

    I am linking to the thread I started when Chinook was suffering. Please pay attention particularly to Meghann - she was in vet school at the time, has since graduated, but unfortunately rarely posts here any more.

    I hope there will be information of help to you here, and I really really hope Pookie is able to work through this problem.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Low platelets

  • kate3671

    Prairie Love, thank you so much for your reply. I am so, so sorry about your girl--time helps, but I know the heartache never goes away. :(

    I did see the thread about Chinook when I started reading about canine thrombocytopenia, and there was a wealth of helpful information in there--the knowledge that both you and Meghann shared was the most useful I've seen in any public forum.

    We had to leave Pookie at the hospital's ICU tonight, which was heartwrenching--he's come such a long way with trust in the last 10 months and it's awful to leave him without being to explain given that he was neglected and abandoned before we got him. :(

    Today his platelets were down to 10k and his RBCs were slightly depressed, WBCs slightly elevated. They didn't see any internal bleeding on his xrays. The are doing a couple of skin biopsies to see whether the hives/wheals he gets (which we have always chalked up to common ABD allergies) are in some way related, and then they will hit him with doxycycline, vincristine, and prednisone all at once to try to jumpstart his platelets. I have been bawling my face off for the last several hours, but we are praying for the best-case scenario, that he responds well to this drug cocktail and that buys us some time to try to get to the bottom of this.

    I so appreciate your reaching out, and will let you know when we have heard more about his tests and treatment. I hope we'll have him home with us tomorrow night.

  • prairie_love

    My best healing thoughts to you and Pookie. He has such a sweet face.

  • prairie_love

    Any news, hopefully good, on Pookie today?

    I'm so hoping for a good outcome for you and Pookie.

  • kate3671

    Hi Prairie Love--thanks so much for checking in. We were just updated that his blood counts are all the same today, but he ate well this morning. He is having some bruising and bleeding from the biopsy sites they used yesterday, which is not a surprise.

    He was started yesterday on the vincristine and they've also started doxy and prednisone, but they say it could take up to 72 hours before we'd see a bump in his blood counts. They want him to stay again overnight so they can watch him and have him see the internist tomorrow.

    We're going to go visit around 1--I'll post an update later. Thanks so much for keeping Pookie in your thoughts!

  • kate3671

    Hi there--we got to spend a good hour and a half with our boy this afternoon. His condition is still guarded due to his very low platelet count--the meds haven't kicked his bone marrow into gear yet--but his color was better today and he has a little more pep in his step.

    He also has obviously charmed the heck out of the vet and the vet tech ladies, and we can see they're taking very good care of him.

    We'll get another update tomorrow after they've done a new blood panel. Meanwhile, just hoping he'll stay comfortable and keep eating well and gathering his strength back. Thanks again for holding a good thought for our boy!

  • prairie_love

    I'm so glad to hear he is hanging on and even improving! We'll keep crossing all our paws for continued improvement!

  • kate3671

    Hi there: Prairie love, I don't know if you'll see my update, but I wanted to thank you again for your kindness, info, and good vibes back in March when our guy got sick. His doc threw the kitchen sink at him (chemo drug, 2 immunosuppressants, steroids, and heavy antibiotics) and it wasn't an easy treatment course, but he's doing great now!

    He is tapering off his last medication slowly and so far all his blood counts are holding steady. We will have to be vigilant for the rest of his life since it could recur, but I feel so, so fortunate that he was saved and is now back to his happy self (for a few months, he was kind of a steroid zombie, which was sad to watch).

    I know all the good vibes people sent helped--thank you again for yours!

  • prairie_love

    I'm so glad for you and Pookie! Thanks so much for letting me know.

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