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Canine cyclic neutropenia is an inherited disorder that causes severe infections due to the neutropenia (low white cell count) that occurs every 12 to 14 days in your dog’s blood. These infections can be life-threatening and each illness weakens your dog until his body just cannot fight off infections anymore. All collie breeds (i.e. rough, smooth, border) are susceptible to this disorder if both parents are positive for the gene that carries canine cyclic neutropenia and will be noticeable by the time the puppy is six weeks old. The most commonly noticed symptoms noticed are infections (i.e. respiratory, eyes, and skin) and being smaller and slower than its littermates.There are no proven curative treatments for this condition yet, although they are working on a cure with recombinant granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (rG-CSF), which is new, but very promising. This disease only affects collies, and it is called gray Collie syndrome because those with the disorder have a gray (or pale) coat color and their nose is always a lighter color (never black). If your collie dog has a light colored nose and is not growing as it should, you should get it checked for canine cyclic neutropenia as soon as possible.
The failure to thrive in collie dogs, or canine cyclic neutropenia (gray collie syndrome), is a genetic stem cell disease that is known to slow or stop the growth in those that have the disorder. This is caused by an abnormal stem cell formation in the dog’s bone marrow, which is where all blood cells are developed.
This genetic disorder is caused when both parents have the abnormal gene. The breeds affected are:
Your veterinarian will need to know your dog’s complete medical history including any illnesses or injuries, different eating habits, and changes in behavior. Of course, since this disorder shows up no later than your puppy’s sixth week, the medical history will probably not consist of much, but the veterinarian will need to know as much as possible about the pregnancy and birth if you have that information. He will do a thorough physical examination of your dog, which will include body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and weight. A complete blood count (CBC), electrolyte test, and urinalysis will be needed to detect any abnormalities. If the veterinarian finds that the white blood cells are low and your dog has a light gray coat and light colored nose, he will probably want you to bring your dog back in two weeks to check the blood count again just to confirm the diagnosis of canine cyclic neutropenia.
The veterinarian will first want to treat the immediate infection with broad-spectrum antibiotics and IV fluids. This will probably require the hospitalization of your dog for at least 24 hours or until he is stable. The treatment will vary depending on what type of infection your dog has at the time because that will need to be treated before starting whichever treatment the veterinarian decides is best. An injection of rG-CSF daily is a treatment that has been found to help increase the white blood cell count in many dogs. While it is still relatively new, it has shown excellent results with little to no risks so rG-CSF may be a good choice for your dog.
Another treatment for your dog that is sometimes recommended is a bone marrow transplant, and although they are expensive, they are much more common and have a much better chance at success. Bone marrow transplants have been being used with excellent success rates in dogs with myeloma leukemia, and lymphoma for years. There are only a few places in the United States that perform this operation, so it would be quite expensive and time consuming. In addition, your dog must be otherwise in good health for bone marrow transplant to be an option.
Unfortunately, this disorder is fatal to most puppies within their first few days of life and even if your dog is over six weeks old and has canine cyclic neutropenia the chances of living a normal life is slim to none. There is hope with the new rG-CSF treatments, but it is still in the early stages and it may be difficult to find a veterinarian to perform these treatments. It also requires a daily dosage of rG-CSF, which can be time-consuming and expensive, so if you plan to put your dog through this treatment, you should plan to spend several hours a day treating and caring for your dog.
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