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If your pet dog is experiencing sluggishness or nausea it could be due to a medical effect known as blood thickening. Blood thickening or polycythemia vera is a disorder that affects an animal’s circulatory system. It causes the blood to become heavier due to the production of excess blood cells in the system.
Pets suffering from this disease exhibits mild symptoms like vomiting, Diarrhea and excessive urination and more serious ones like nosebleeds and enlarged abdomen. Shortness of breath and lack of interest in physical activities are also common symptoms.
While the exact cause is still debatable, let’s look at the probable causes than might lead to blood thickening.
- Decrease in plasma volume
A decrease in plasma volume, the liquid part of the blood often produces an increased number of Red Blood Cells (RBCs) in the circulating blood. It is caused due to dehydration and is more commonly known as relative polycythemia.
- Splenic contraction
The contraction of the spleen has been associated with rising RBCs in the blood system. It is known as transient polycythemia and injects RBCs in the system due to a response to the hormone epinephrine.
- Increased bone marrow production
Bone marrow is the primary production site of new RBC cells and it is therefore not surprising that an increase in bone marrow leads to increased RBC mass. This is known as absolute polycythemia. It can be primary or secondary depending upon the number of RBCs released and the severity of the disease.
The above three explanations are the most probable ones. However, there could exist many more reasons as to why blood thickening takes place. It is also important here to differentiate between blood thickening and coagulation. While blood thickening is the increase in the number of RBCs, coagulation is the clumping of RBCs. In most cases, coagulation is a more severe health condition than blood thickening.
When it comes to diagnosing blood thickening, a veterinarian will first do a blood test to examine the seriousness of the condition. He will then perform a series of tests including a urinalysis, a chemical profile and oxygen analysis. In addition to it, he may also perform study radiograph and ultrasound images to investigate underlying diseases that could cause blood thickening.
Blood thickening is a serious condition and pets should be handled with care during this time. A decrease in plasma volume, splenic contraction and increased bone marrow production are probable explanations as to why this disease takes place. While research is still trying to identify the exact cause of the disease, diagnostic techniques have helped vets create treatments for blood thickening. The disease is curable but whether it can relapse or not is hard to say.