Saturday, June 17, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Low Platelet Counts, Preventing Summertime Dehydration, and more ...

Low Platelet Counts Are Big Trouble for Dogs

Dr. Marty Becker

"Does your dog have black school or bruises or other marks on his skin? This could be a lights and sirens emergency, and definitely requires a fast trip to the vet." ~Dr. Marty Becker

One thing about blood is that it's a well-designed, carefully regulated concoction of life-sustaining bits. One of those are platelets. The principal function of platelets is to prevent bleeding. If platelet count drops low enough, not only it would result in uncontrolled bleeding for any wound but it can even lead to spontaneous bleeding anywhere in the body. Such situation is life-threatening and a dog can die from internal bleeding.

The while cute "guys" are platelets. Photo Thrombocyte

During her drug-induced hyperthermia, Jasmine's platelets got destroyed in large numbers. Among other fallout from the event, bruises started appearing on her tongue and elsewhere on her body. When the teaching hospital's emergency veterinarians also discovered a large abscess in Jasmine's abdomen, they could not operate until her platelets got high enough to do the surgery safely. While the abscess was a high-risk ticking bomb, we did have to wait for the platelet numbers to rise. If the abscess ruptured, it could have killed Jasmine. But surgery without enough platelets to prevent profuse blood loss would kill her also.

A dog with insufficient platelets needs emergency care and the cause of platelet loss needs to be figured out.

Read Dr. Becker's article about the signs and dangers of low platelet count.

Preventing Summertime Dehydration

Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

80% of a dog's body mass consists of water. That should tell you how important water is for life. There is water in the blood, there is water in the cells and surrounding tissues. Water is involved in every function the body performs. Water and its properties is what makes life possible.

"An adequate amount of water within the body is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure, circulation, and bodily functions." ~Dr. Nancy Kay

Dehydration happens when the loss of water is higher than intake. This can happen with diarrhea, vomiting, kidney failure, or increased panting when the loss isn't matched by supply.

On a hot day, particularly with physical activity, a lot of water is lost through panting. Panting is how dogs expel excess body heat but it comes at a price of higher water loss. If a dog doesn't have access to sufficient amount of water to drink, or they are too busy having fun to remember to drink, they can get dehydrated quickly.

Make no mistake, dehydration is a common emergency and can be life-threatening.

First signs of dehydration include saliva pooling on the tongue in little foamy streaks. Next signs are dry, sticky gums, lack of skin elasticity, dark, concentrated urine, followed by delay in capillary refill time, lethargy and other serious signs.

Learn more about summertime dehydration and how to prevent it in Dr. Kay's article.

Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE) – When Protein Passes in the Poop

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

At one point, protein-losing enteropathy was on the board as a differential diagnosis for some of Jasmine's issues. Rottweilers are one of the breeds highly susceptible to this problem. I was glad to have it ruled out.

What is protein-losing enteropathy?

Firstly, it's not just any protein that is being lost, it is a particular one, called albumin. Albumin is one of the two main functional proteins in the blood. It is partnered with globulins. Globulins are blood proteins involved with immune function. Albumin is a transporting protein and plays a major role in keeping fluids where they belong, such as inside the blood vessels. Without enough albumin the blood, fluid goes where it pleases and accumulates in places where it doesn't belong.

You can check out My Brown Newfies blog for a real-life story on how all hell can break lose when all these things happen.

Potential causes of this condition include infectious diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as in Leroy's case and as we temporarily figured in Jasmine's case ... Believe it or not, those are the better ones from the potential diagnoses.

Check out Dr. Byer's comprehensive article about PLE.

Medical Cannabis and Its Impact on Pets

Dr. Jean Dodds

To cannabis or not to cannabis? That is the question. I see more products out there, now even to treat anxiety. I was asked whether I'd use it for my dog(s). Like with anything else, it depends. If there wasn't any other effective way to treat something, I'd consider anything that could work. That's for sure.

Dr. Dodds, however, points out risks other than issues of legality or potential toxicity. For example, what about regulations about pesticides, fungicides, chemicals and other toxins or impurities in medical cannabis?

Check out Dr. Dodds' thoughts.


  1. These are such helpful articles! I adore Dr. Becker, he's the best. Thank you for sharing this information.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  2. If I take Layla out on a hot day I make sure there is a lot of shade and loads of water, I don't care if she does not eat but as long as she is hydrated I am relaxed. I also carry her to protect her paws, thanks for all the info