Macrothrombocytopenia or Thrombocytopenia?

2016, Oct, 10 | -Research | 3 comments

Why inocorrect treatment could be fatal!

Recently there was a veterinary journal article about three Akitas with a persistent macrothrombocytopenia.

Macrothrombocytopenia and thrombocytopenia

Laboratory findings of this condition are:

  1. a low platelet count
  2. with platelets that may be larger than normal

Dogs with inherited macrothrombocytopenia

  • They do not suffer from clinical bleeding
  • There can be a negative or no response to treatments

Dogs with trombocytopenia

  • They suffer from clinical bleeding disorders

These dogs with low platelet count can be confused with dogs who have thrombocytopenia with bleeding disorders.

The three Akitas had symptoms of macrothrombocytopenia.

In some breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniel this is caused by a mutation in the beta-1 tubulin gene and it is an autosomal recessive trait. These three Akitas were negative for this gene mutation, so it seems some other gene mutation is responsible for this condition in Akitas and the inheritance method is still unknown.

Danger with treating Akitas for low platelet count

There have been previous cases of Akitas with low platelet count without any health issues. They only seem to get sick when they are treated for the low platelet count. Treatment can be very dangerous to these Akitas and it might even be fatal. Until we get more information about this issue, it is recommended that breeders and vets are careful when treating Akitas with low platelet count.

Participate in the research

There is ongoing research about this issue by Dr P.W. Christopherson at Auburn University. At the moment Akitas with these laboratory findings in USA can participate by sending Dr Christopherson one tube EDTA (purple top) blood and some well-made blood smear slides. No ice packs are needed; it just needs to be packed so that the tube and the slides don’t break. Dr Christopherson is currently researching what forms might be needed to send samples by mail from other countries so they clear customs. We will post updates soon as we know more.

Samples can be sent to this address:

Hemostasis Laboratory
Pete Christopherson
166 Greene Hall
Auburn University, AL 36849

Hayakawa, S., Spangler, E. A., Christopherson, P. W., & Boudreaux, M. K. (2016). A novel form of macrothrombocytopenia in Akita dogs. Veterinary Clinical Pathology.

Caldin, M., Zoia, A., Tasca, S., & Furlanello, T. (2016). Thrombocytopenia in Japanese Akita dogs. Veterinary Clinical Pathology, 45(3), 397-397.

Drachman, J. G. (2004). Inherited thrombocytopenia: when a low platelet count does not mean ITP. Blood, 103(2), 390-398.

The publishing of this article as well as the picture on the Akita Unleashed web-site is approved by the FB-group – Akita Health & Genetic.

Saija Tenhunen

Saija Tenhunen

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  1. Mor

    My Akita Inu dog has low (86) platelets. No illness signs seen. I understand from the article that it may be normal in this strain.
    Could you please indicate what is the normal range of platelets in Akitas?


  2. Saija Tenhunen


    Akitas can have really low blood platelets, lowest I know is somewhere around 15. In these cases dogs have less platelets but their size is larger than normally. So dogs do not have anykind of symptoms and this does not affect their life in any way. Far as I know all have liven normal life until old age. I recommend to inform your vet about this abnormality with Akitas and read more about it.

    • Thales Alexandre Rodrigues de Sousa

      hi! I’ve just found this out and I’m shocked by the news Akitas may have a low count of platelets. mine has always had hers low. however, now, her VT wants to perform a bone marrow test for further investigation, beacuse she had erlichiosis, which has been treated and cured. What do you folks have to say about that? thanks!


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