What You Should Know About Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency in Dogs

Also known as PK, pyruvate kinase deficiency is a disorder that affects your dog’s blood cells. This condition is an inherited disorder and it can lead to some serious symptoms if not promptly treated. Let’s talk about pyruvate kinase deficiency including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What is Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency?

This condition is caused by the mutation of a specific enzyme that is involved in cellular metabolism called pyruvate kinase. Dogs with pyruvate kinase deficiency frequently develop severe hemolytic anemia because the condition causes red blood cells to die at a faster than normal rate. Red blood cells are essential for carrying oxygen to various muscles and tissues throughout the body, so anything that impairs this ability can cause some serious side effects.

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In many cases, symptoms for pyruvate kinase deficiency develop between four months and one year of age, and most dogs diagnosed with this condition die before they reach four years of age. Some dog breeds, however, are sometimes able to live longer than others. The breeds most likely to inherit this condition include Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, Beagles, Pugs, West Highland White Terriers, and Cairn Terriers.

Common Symptoms and Treatment Options

In the early stages, the symptoms of pyruvate kinase deficiency can sometimes be tricky to diagnose. The most common symptoms for this condition include weakness, rapid heart rate, lack of energy, heart murmurs, pale gums, and stunted growth. As your dog’s pyruvate kinase deficiency progresses, you may notice additional symptoms affecting his bones and liver.

Unfortunately, pyruvate kinase deficiency is not a disease that can be prevented or cured. This condition is an autosomal recessive trait which means that it will only passed on if both parents are carriers. If a dog carries the genetic mutation but does not exhibit symptoms for the disease, he is considered a heterozygous carrier – dogs that are affected by the disease are called homozygous. This makes diagnosis tricky sometimes, but the mutation can be detected through blood tests.

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When it comes to the treatment and management of pyruvate kinase deficiency, there are not many treatment options. The only treatment currently available is bone marrow transplant – this treatment is expensive and it can be just as dangerous as the disease itself.

In terms of management, steps must be taken to address the dog’s anemia. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what will help your dog the most when it comes to long-term management. During the terminal stages of the disease, many dogs also have problems with fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. At this point, the best thing you can do is keep your dog comfortable or consider euthanasia if he is suffering.

Pyruvate kinase deficiency is a serious and fatal disease. Because this disease has no cure, you should focus your efforts on reducing your dog’s symptoms and by making him as comfortable possible. Your time with him may be limited, so live each day to its fullest!

kate-Bio_PicKate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.


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