Acute Leukemia Average Cost

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What is Acute Leukemia?

The cells (lymphocytes and myelocytes) proliferate abundantly to render your pet quite ill. Canines can be any age when the disease hits (dependant on the type of leukemia) and show signs of lethargy, weight loss, and anorexia. Prognosis is often not favorable but will depend on factors such as the present health status of your dog, concurrent illnesses, stage of cancer at discovery, and the individual response to treatment.

With a diagnosis of acute leukemia, the required therapy is chemotherapy. With this form of treatment, bone marrow suppression can occur which means supportive care will be initiated as well. Hospitalization is often required.

As with human cancers, researchers are constantly studying and seeking ways to battle the disease.

An excess of white blood cells form in the bone marrow causing acute leukemia. Treatment is available, though for many pets, palliative care is the outcome.


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Symptoms of Acute Leukemia in Dogs

There are several clinical signs of acute leukemia that you should be aware of. Any time that your canine is exhibiting signs of illness, a veterinarian visit is warranted. Many illnesses can present in similar ways; evaluation and testing will be necessary in order to pinpoint the cause of your pet’s discomfort:

  • Loss of weight
  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Bruising (may not be easily seen)
  • Bleeding
  • Pale gums
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Malaise
  • Change in activity level
  • Frequent urination
  • Thirst
  • Lameness
  • Fever
  • Lymph nodes may be swollen


Acute leukemia can be classified as myelogenous and lymphoid. Leukemia is also found to be acute or chronic. Acute leukemia is generally a more aggressive form than the chronic type, which can have a slower progression, though must be treated promptly as well.

Causes of Acute Leukemia in Dogs

  • Uncontrollable cell growth takes place
  • Accumulation of neoplastic cells can take over
  • Decrease in normal cell presence
  • Can be aggressive in growth
  • Can affect organs including spleen, liver, kidney, and heart
  • Can metastasize to blood stream and gastrointestinal tract
  • Non-regenerative anemia is often present in acute leukemia

Diagnosis of Acute Leukemia in Dogs

Your veterinarian can begin to diagnose acute leukemia in your dog by first observing the clinical signs and discussing the symptom history. However, since this disease may present in a similar way to others, your veterinary specialist will have laboratory tests and imaging assessments done to confirm the disease. 

With a physical examination, your veterinarian may discover a fever, enlarged lymph nodes and enlarged organs in the abdominal area with palpation, as well as pale gums and mucous membranes upon viewing of the mouth, nose and eyes. 

The initial blood assessment will be carefully examined and may reveal abnormalities in the number of red and white blood cells, a low platelet count, and the presence of non-regenerative anemia. A urinalysis can give indication as to how the illness is affecting your pet’s kidneys and liver.

An abdominal ultrasound will be included in the diagnostic process for a more detailed view of the organs. A bone marrow aspiration (which will likely show an overabundance of lymphoblasts in the case of lymphoid leukemia, for example) will be done. In some cases, a bone marrow biopsy is needed. In addition, thoracic x-rays may be ordered.

Treatment of Acute Leukemia in Dogs

The veterinarian has to cautiously prescribe treatment, especially if there is a risk of infection and if the dog is severely anemic. The fundamental supportive care is given after antibiotic therapy has been initiated to treat the infection. 

If cancer has developed, a chemotherapy protocol involving a combination of drugs is the recommended treatment. For animals with chronic bleeding or anemia, a blood or plasma transfusion may be administered for stabilizing your pet. Your dog will have to be hospitalized for this and will be monitored carefully throughout, as well as given supportive therapy such as nutrition supplementation and antibiotic administration.

Recovery of Acute Leukemia in Dogs

Remission has been obtained in many canines; studies show that some canines have survived an additional 2 years beyond treatment. Discussion with your veterinarian throughout the process will be essential all the while keeping your dog’s best interests at the forefront.

Acute Leukemia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

2 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Little energy
Frequent Urination
Increased thirst
Loss of Appetite

Medication Used

doxycycline hyclate

A week before Christmas Major’s energy level was lower than normal, especially for a 2 yo puppy. Over Christmas he had no interest in seeing people and just laid around, that coupled with him suddenly seeking out dirt and really eating it I knew something was up. Brought him to the vet who right away said it was an infection and needed to do bloodwork to check for anemia. When the initial bloodwork test came back he was definitely anemic (very low red blood cells) but the vet had additional concerns around his white blood cell count and was sending it for additional testing. She said most likely it’s a response to the infection and prescribed Doxycycline Hyclate and Predisone- the first two days on it he appeared to be improving then on day three he just had no energy or interest in anything but laying in bed. The next day (yesterday) the vet called back and told me after multiple tests it is clear that Major has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She explained there is no cure, aggressive chemo is an option but that can only provide a few months to a year of survival, and that she would suggest keeping Major comfortable with the predisone until he begins to suffer (and scheduled a follow up appointment). In the last 24 hours he has definitely gotten worse; has very little energy, can’t climb stairs, lost interest in food, etc. I know these are bad signs but I don’t know if he’s in pain, I just want him to be comfortable- what should I be expecting in the next few days, what questions should I ask the vet, do I get a second opinion, I have a follow up appointment tomorrow but want to do more for him sooner.

I have a 18 month Goldendoodle that has a similar story. At first he was diagnosed with imha and anaplasmosis and treated with 2 blood transfusions and dialysis. Then biopsy of lymph node of liver came back with acute myeloid leukaemia. He was sent home with prednisone and docxcyline. He has been on medications for 11 days. Eating small meals every few hours, frequent thirst and urination and moments of lethargy. We are devastated. One doctor told us it’s not 100% leukemia and can be severe case of imha. I hate to have any hope. How’s your pup doing.

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Labrador Retriever
11 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


My girl, Rylee, started having grand mal seizures every 2 hrs while we were away on vaca. I had the sitter take her to an pet ER & her WBCs are 315,000! They gave her Valium to stop the seizures. She is now hime & we are awaiting an appt with the oncologist

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Golden Retreiver
12 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

he was tired, lost weight

My 12 year old Golden Retreiver seemed tired and began to have difficulty going up stairs. Then we noticed he had suddenly lost weight. We took him to our local vet and asked her to do a wellness check including a complete blood panel. She said his gums were very pale. His blood test revealed his white blood count was 100 times normal. His red blood count was also dangerously low. She said we needed to take him into the VCA hospital by our house which was numerous board certified Oncologists on staff if we wanted him to live.

The VCA hospital rechecked his blood. They got the same bad results. He was having difficulty breathing. They said he needed to have a whole red blood cell transfusion in order to live. The transfusion took 8 hours. He was in Intensive Care for 3 1/2 days. The blood transfusion increased his red blood count and he began to feel stronger so we could take him home. They suspected he had a type of blood cancer. They gave him one shot of chemo because his white blood count was so high. They sent his blood work to special labs to determine if he had lymphoma or leukemia.

They said, if he had lymphoma, he was treatable and could live up to 1 1/2 years with chemo. They said that Leukemia was much more aggressive and he'd probably be dead in at most 3 months without treatment.

His blood work came back. He had Acute Lymphoid Leukemia. They said the standard protocol is to treat (ALL) with chemo but they strongly advised against that because chemo would cost a lot of money, make him sick and he'd die anyway. Aggressive treatment with chemo would add 1 month to his life at most 2.

I followed her advice and decided not treat my dog with chemo. The Oncologist called me and told me if my dog were her dog she'd euthanize him because death would not be pleasant for him. He would begin to feel like he was suffocating and become distressed. She said though, that every once in a while they saw a dog with ALL who had received a blood transfusion get better. It appeared that every once in a while the blood transfusion kick starts their bone marrow and they start making red blood cells again. She said not to get my hopes up, most of the time a blood transfusion only provides temporary help and the dog goes right back to where he was before the transfusion.

We were in the process of selling our house and moving to another state. Our house sold and we moved 1 month after our dog was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. We took another blood test before the trip to see if he was strong enough to make the 12 hour trip by car. His blood work was much improved. His white blood count was normal. His red blood count did not go down after the transfusion it went up slightly.

We did not want to put our dog to sleep if he was happy. Wagging his tail and running around the dog park chasing balls. He's in total remission now 2 months later. His blood work looks better each time we take it.

How long can we expect him to stay in remission since he had Acute Leukemia?
Should we put him on chemo to keep him in remission?

How long can


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Golden Retreiver
6 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Loss of weight , drinking frequent

My 6 year old Golden retriever was diagnosed following a blood test to investigate the cause for a severe gastroenteritis episode. I was told his white cell count was more than 60 when it should be below 17.
He was not recommended chemotherapy as retrievers do not respond well to this harsh regime especially the first 2 weeks.
He is currently being managed by antibiotic tablets and we are now in the third week following diagnosis. Although he has lost some weight he is now eating very well - always keen for food, he is walking and sleeping well.
What changes should I watch out for and can the A/biotic therapy continue as routine treatment? I contact my vet weekly and she repeats the prescription.
We are enjoying every day we have left

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
There are various forms of leukemia and there is a varied response to treatment with chemotherapy, whilst chemotherapy isn’t curative it may help with longevity. Aggressive treatment is required which may include intravenous fluid therapy, broad-spectrum antibiotics and blood transfusions (if necessary). Take each day as it comes, but I would recommend consulting with an Oncologist to explore your options as they will be more knowledgeable about current management options. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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2 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Our 2.5 year old goldendoddle was just diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. He is going downhill very fast. My question is this. We spent over $8000 at MedVet over the last month and they could not figure out what was wrong. Our local vet did a simple $42 blood test last week and diagnosed him right away with Acute Leukemia. Is there a reason why this would not have shown up in the blood work 2-4 weeks ago? I’m not sure why the professionals at the hospital charged us what they did and still did not find this. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Honestly I cannot answer this question, I’m not sure as I haven’t reviewed the medical records or test results; however I would recommend requesting the medical records from MedVet and your local Veterinarian and send them for a second opinion by a board certified Specialist (company like PetRays) for them to compare the blood test results and notes to see if the diagnosis should have been made earlier. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Basset Hound
10 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Barkley had a splenectomy for what turned out to be a benign tumor in January that was found during a back X-ray to monitor arthritis. His wbc count prior to surgery for preop was 10,000. Healing well. Appetite tripled. 2 months have passed and suddenly appetite decreased, urination and thirst increased. Gained almost 10 pounds. Tires easily. Restless at night. Not interested in his food although he will eat dehydrated rabbit. Checked blood last week and wbc now 80,000. Vet suspects acute leukemia. Blood recheck today and waiting results. He has a history of knee issues (3 surgeries), arthritis, and sudden aggression towards me for the past 6 years. At a loss for our next steps and what to expect. I am hesitant to draw bone marrow. I don’t want more anesthesia or pain. Confused at sudden onset with nothing indicating trouble 2 months ago with spleen. Are they connected?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
It seems unlikely that the leukemia is related to a benign tumor, or the surgery, but may be something that was going to happen regardless. Since your veterinarian seems to be covering all the bases for Barkley, and since I don't know what the rest of his lab work showed, it would be best to trust your veterinarian - if you aren't sure about any testing, make sure that you ask to discuss the risks and benefits before proceeding.

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Great Dane
8 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


Hi,my name is Minal. I m from india.My dog name Alf has acute lukemia can you please suggest any medicine for him? Please i want medicine for him. I don't that same answer to go doctor. I am feeling helpless. Please help me to save him.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Whilst you are not wanting to hear ‘go to your Veterinarian’, the truth is that any treatment protocol for leukemia would need to be by Veterinary prescription by a Veterinarian that has physically examined Alf. A Veterinarian that hasn’t examined a patient cannot prescribe a course of treatment; the chemotherapy protocol would be dependent on the specific type of leukemia Alf is suffering from, it isn’t as simple as leukemia equals one specific treatment. Complications from infection and other sources are common and need to be overseen by a Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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