Objective—To determine whether severity of leukocytosis correlates with severity of postmortem lesions in dogs with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA).
Animals—34 dogs with IMHA that had CBC performed within 48 hours prior to death and complete necropsy examinations.
Procedure—Dogs were independently assigned to 4 leukocytosis groups (within reference range; mild leukocytosis, moderate leukocytosis, marked leukocytosis) and 3 lesion severity groups (mild lesions, moderate lesions, severe lesions).
Results—Moderate to marked leukocytosis correlated with moderate to severe postmortem lesions. Ischemic necrosis within liver, kidney, heart, lung, and spleen attributable to thromboembolic disease or anemic hypoxia were the most common important lesions found at necropsy. None of the dogs with mild lesions had moderate or marked leukocytosis. Four of 14 severely affected dogs had WBC counts within reference range, but all 4 had neutrophilic left shifts. Three of these 4 dogs had toxic change in neutrophils.
Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Moderate to marked leukocytosis, neutrophilic left shift, and toxic change in neutrophils in dogs with IMHA should alert clinicians to the potential for moderate to severe tissue injury, which could complicate treatment and worsen prognosis. Lesions appear to be secondary to anemic hypoxia, thromboembolic disease, or both; therefore, treatment objectives should focus on improving blood oxygen-carrying capacity and monitoring for thromboembolic disease. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:1308–1313)