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Published: Mar 28, 2012

Thrombocytopenia in dogs is a condition that refers to a low platelet count in the animal's blood. The name refers to thrombocytes which is the scientific term for blood platelets.

It's important that owners understand thrombocytopenia, as it can cause severe bleeding in dogs. Platelets are critical to a dog’s ability to form clots, which ultimately seal up wounds and stop bleeding. An excessively high number of platelets can result in dangerous clots forming inside the body, but an excessively low count, as in thrombocytopenia, may lead to heavy bleeding—with or without trauma or injury.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, thrombocytopenia is relatively common, with an estimated 5 percent of dogs admitted to veterinary clinics suffering from the condition. It can typically be diagnosed with a complete blood cell count, which is a standard testing procedure that may also find other illnesses.

Although thrombocytopenia can occur randomly, many times it is caused by another underlying condition. Veterinarians hoping to control thrombocytopenia will usually screen a dog for several disorders.  These include certain infections that can be caused by ticks in dogs, immune disorders, cancer, von Willebrand's disease and many other conditions which can lead to thrombocytopenia. However, it's critical that a pet owner is aware if their dog has this issue, as it can turn something like a gash or a cut into a potentially life-threatening situation if the bleeding does not stop. There are several treatments for thrombocytopenia depending on the cause of the problem and your veterinarian will be able to get your dog started on the best treatment plan.