Leukemia (Chronic) in Dogs

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Chronic Lymphocytic Cancer in Dogs

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a rare form of cancer which involves abnormal and malignant lymphocytes in the blood. An integral component to the immune system, lymphocytes can affect many body systems when damaged.

This form of leukemia is rare, but more commonly affects male dogs when compared to females.


The symptoms for chronic lymphocytic leukemia are usually non-specific and may include:

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia) and consumption of water
  • Increased urination (polyuria)
  • Enlargement of lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Lameness
  • Bruises


The following are suspected but unproven risk factors for chronic lymphocytic leukemia:

  • Exposure to ionizing radiation
  • Cancer-causing viruses
  • Chemical agents


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination, as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Blood testing may reveal anemia, abnormally low number of platelets (cells involved in blood clotting), and abnormal increase in number of lymphocytes in blood film observed under microscope. Your pet’s veterinarian will also conduct a bone marrow biopsy, which will provide a more detailed picture into the abnormalities in lymphocyte production.

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