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Stem Cell Disorders Due to Abnormal Development and Maturation in Dogs

Myelodysplastic Syndromes in Dogs

Disorders related to stem cells due to abnormal development and maturation are prevalent in dogs, particularly Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS). MDS encompasses a range of conditions impacting a dog’s hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for generating all types of blood cells including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These disorders are characterized by irregularities in the development and maturation of hematopoietic stem cells, and can either be primary (congenital) or secondary (resulting from factors such as cancer, drug exposure, or infections).

Interestingly, myelodysplastic syndromes are more commonly observed in cats than in dogs.


  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Recurrent infections
  • Enlargement of the spleen and liver


  • Infections
  • Bone marrow dysplasia
  • Immune-mediated neutropenia (often caused by steroids)
  • Drug toxicity (such as estrogen, cytotoxic anticancer agents, or a combination of trimethoprim and sulfa)


To diagnose myelodysplastic syndromes in your dog, it is crucial to provide your veterinarian with a comprehensive history of your dog’s health, detailing the onset and characteristics of the symptoms. Your veterinarian will then perform a thorough physical examination, along with conducting a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Blood tests are particularly essential for diagnosis, as they may reveal a decreased number of blood cells (cytopenia). Megaloblastic anemia may also be observed in some dogs.

Additional abnormal findings might include the presence of large, unusual platelets and immature granulocytes (a type of white blood cell) with irregular shapes and sizes. Your veterinarian will also obtain a bone marrow sample to assess the production process of red and white blood cells and to identify any abnormalities.


Treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes in dogs is generally nonspecific unless the underlying cause is determined. Dogs afflicted with myelodysplastic syndromes are frequently vulnerable to serious complications, including infections, necessitating intensive nursing care. In such instances, affected animals will undergo antibiotic therapy until their white blood cell count returns to normal levels. Additionally, these dogs are more prone to severe anemia and hemorrhages, often necessitating multiple blood transfusions.

Living and Management

Continuous blood testing is necessary during treatment to monitor the progress of the animal. Unfortunately, the prognosis for these animals remains poor, even with treatment. Nonetheless, it is essential to keep the dog stable to prevent the worsening of symptoms.

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