Why Were Poikilocytes Seen In My Dog's Blood ?

Why Were Poikilocytes Seen In My Cat's Blood ?

To see what normal blood and urine values are for your pet, go here

For an explanation of causes of most abnormal blood and urine tests go here

To see how tests are often grouped, go here

Ron Hines DVM PhD

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Poikilocytes Seen In Your Pet's Blood Exam

Poikilocytosis describes shape abnormalities seen in your pet’s red blood cells (RBCs, erythrocytes). Red blood cells are normally produced by your dog or cat ’s bone marrow in endless look-alike clones. Since they only live a few months, untold numbers are created day after day and one should look pretty much like the next.

When more than a few show differences in their uptake of coloring dyes (polychromasia) or appear differ in their size (anisocytosis) or, in this case, in their shapes; something is a brew.

Clinical pathologists have divided the various abnormal shapes that RBC assume into nine major groups - and probably got carried away in doing so - (those are: sherocytes, leptocytes, target cells, stomatocytes, folded cells, speculated RBCs, schistocytes, acanthcytes and echinocytes).

There is a lot of overlap and guesswork as what might cause one or the other shape change - so using these shape abnormalities to diagnose what might be wrong with your dog or cat is really not a good idea.

However echinocytes seem to be due to too much anticoagulant in the collection tube, schistocytes correlate well with blood flow turbulence, target cells with anemia, and spherocytes with auto-immune disease.

Some Health Issues That Could Cause Poikilocytosis In General :

About one quarter of dogs that have babesiosis infections also have poikylocytosis.

Poikilocytosis is also a common finding in dogs and cats treated with the anti-cancer drug, doxorubicin.

Poikilocytosis is also a feature in some cases of liver disease in cats. It can also be seen in crisis situations - like DIC (disseminated Intravascular coagulation).

Just about anything that affects your pet's red blood cell formation in the bone marrow can be the cause of some of these abnormally shaped red cells being present.

Blood turbulence after the RBCs are formed (as in hemangiosarcoma tumors or certain heart diseases) have also been associated with poikilocytosis.

A jerky technique in applying blood to the glass slide (blood smear) will falsely distort the shape of dog and cat red blood cells as well (technique artifacts). So will using too much EDTA anticoagulant in the collecting the specimen of blood.

Complementary Tests :

CBC/WBC and blood chemistry panel to begin with and further tests by your veterinarian based on those initial results

.................... DxMe