You Make The Diagnosis: Rare Blood Disorder In Dog

Pictured below is the blood from a female cocker spaniel. She was anorexic, lethargic and breathing harder than normal. When I looked at her gums, they were pale. Her eyes, gums and skin, had a faint yellow tint. I placed a sample of her blood in a purple top tube. The EDTA in this tube prevents clotting so the individual cells can be analyzed. The sample immediately formed what looked like pepper in the tube. What is this condition called? What causes it?


Diagnosis: Autoagglutination

Autoagglutination means clumping of the red blood cells. See the dark specks in the sample that look like pepper? These are red blood cells that have stuck together. This condition is caused when the dog’s immune system starts making antibodies against their own red blood cells. The antibodies make the cells stick together. When the blood circulates through the spleen, it removes the antibody tagged red blood cells. This dog was lethargic and breathing heavily because she was anemic. The yellow color is called icterus or jaundice. It is caused by all the hemoglobin released from the red blood cells.

Autoagglutination is the clinical sign for an disease called immune mediated hemolytic anemia. This condition is more common in females than males.



Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.