Lymphocytopenia in Dogs

The veterinarian can determine the cause of lymphocytopenia and a course of treatment.
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Lymphocytopenia is an alternative term for a disease known as lymphopenia; it is a condition whereby the lymphocytes in the dog's blood are greatly reduced. This means that the dog has a compromised immune system and his body may not be able to fight off viruses or bacterial and fungal infections. Quite often, dogs with lymphopenia also have other serious conditions, as well.

Conditions Suffered by Dogs With Lymphocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia is defined by reduced amounts of circulating platelets, or thrombocytes. Neutropenia is characterized by lowered leukocytes or white blood cells that fight infection. Anemia is a common condition in dogs with lymphocytopenia, as is sepsis or blood infection, and chylothorax, an overabundance of chyle fluid in the pleural space of the lungs. Neoplasia, angiosarcoma and leukemia are cancers associated with lymphocytopenia. Canine enteric coronavirus, canine parvovirus, and distemper are also common, as are chronic renal disease and parasites.

Causes of Lymphocytopenia

The simplest cause of lowered immunity in dogs is stress, usually when it is prolonged and unrelenting. This occurs in dogs who are abused or abandoned by their owners, or in dogs who live with a more dominant animal who is aggressive to the gentler dogs. Cancers and other serious diseases also dangerously lower dogs' immunity. Your veterinarian will determine how the dog acquired lymphopenia and how to treat the underlying causes.

Symptoms of Lymphocytopenia

Lymphocytopenia itself has no symptoms, but it typically is seen in connection with other conditions whose symptoms are usually apparent. Diarrhea and other gastric conditions, bizarre behaviors, lowered energy or lethargy, nausea, vomiting and weight loss may be on the list of symptoms. Lowered appetite and anemia are common. The veterinarian will recognize the dog's symptoms and diagnose him with a blood test to determine the amount of lymphocytes present.

Treatment of Lymphocytopenia

Typically, the veterinarian will examine the dog and figure out what condition or conditions are causing the lowered immunity, and will treat that condition in order to treat the lymphocytopenia. If cancer is the cause, for instance, chemotherapy might be the treatment. Infections are treated with antibiotics; parasites are treated with wormers. Stress-reducing medications might be given if stress is the cause. When the cause is determined and treated, the lymphocyte numbers should rapidly improve.