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Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency in Dogs

Pyruvate Kinase (PK) is a crucial enzyme responsible for energy production, and its deficiency can hinder the metabolism of red blood cells (RBCs), leading to potential anemia and other blood-related complications.

Breeds that are particularly susceptible to PK deficiency include the basenji, beagle, West Highland white terrier, Cairn terrier, miniature poodle, dachshund, Chihuahua, pug, and American Eskimo dogs.


  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Muscle wasting
  • Jaundice (rare)
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Elevated heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Inability to perform routine exercises


Causes of PK deficiency are typically attributed to a genetic defect acquired at birth.


To diagnose PK deficiency in your dog, you should provide your veterinarian with a detailed history of your dog’s health, including the onset and characteristics of the symptoms. The veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination along with various tests including a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC).

Blood tests might indicate an elevated number of platelets and white blood cells (leukocytosis), anemia characterized by unusually large, pale red blood cells (RBCs), presence of abnormally-shaped RBCs known as poikilocytes (poikilocytosis), and variations in RBC color (polychromasia). The biochemistry profile may reveal excess iron in the blood (hyperferremia), a mild increase in bilirubin, and slight elevation in liver enzymes. Additionally, urinalysis may detect high levels of bilirubin.


The sole available treatment for PK deficient dogs is bone marrow transplantation. Nonetheless, this treatment is costly and carries potential life-threatening risks.

Living and Management

For dogs that undergo a bone marrow transplant, they may lead a normal lifespan. However, untreated dogs typically succumb to bone marrow or liver failure by the age of four. During the terminal stage of the disease, most untreated patients develop severe anemia and accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites).

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