Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals

Paper Info
Page count 10
Word count 2786
Read time 10 min
Topic Medicine
Type Research Paper
Language 🇺🇸 US


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a blood cancer that affects both humans and animals. It is the neoplastic clonal proliferation of small lymphocytes and manifests as marked peripheral lymphocytosis persistent for three or more months. In humans, CLL is the most typical adult leukemia, particularly in Western Europe and North America, where it accounts for between 25 and 30 percent of all leukemia among white people (Bromberek et al., 2016).

In patients aged 80 years and above, the incidence rate is 80 per 100,000 people (Bromberek et al., 2016). Thus, CLL is an older adult indolent disease, with a mean patient age of 60 (Bromberek et al., 2016). Less than 10 percent of the cases of the disease occur among adults aged 40 years and below. CLL is even less common among children as doctors have reported sporadic cases in this cohort (Bromberek et al., 2016). Regarding gender, (Bromberek et al., 2016) note a striking disparity, with a 2:1 to 3:1 male to female ratio. The high incidence of CLL in males affirms the general assertion that men more commonly get cancer than women.

Although scientists have documented the nature and occurrence of CLL among humans well, they offer only scanty information on the same disease as it affects animals (dogs and cats). Scholars do not fully understand the actual incidence rate of CLL in animals. Still, they believe that it is more commoner than myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs) (Bromberek et al., 2016). Compared to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), CLL is less frequent (Bromberek et al., 2016).

The lack of statistical studies to confirm CLL’s proliferation is not the only challenge to CLL comprehension in animals. Another one is that scholars based specific patient diagnoses in most previous acute leukemia studies in cats and dogs purely on morphology (Bromberek et al., 2016). Here, they found that most CLL cases occur in middle-aged to older dogs, with a median age of 10 years and a one and a half to 15 years range (Bromberek et al., 2016). The same goes for cats, where the mean is 14 years with a six to 19 years range. CLL seems to affect older cats and dogs the way it does to humans.

The relationship between animal CLL and sex is also unclear, as different studies have produced variable outcomes over the years. In one of them, investigators examining 22 dogs observed a male to female ratio of 1.8:1 (Bromberek et al., 2016). In another involving 15 dogs, they reported a male to female ratio of 2:3 (Bromberek et al., 2016). Surprisingly, a large CLL study involving 73 dogs found no relationship between sex and B-cell CLL (the disease’s most typical form) (Bromberek et al., 2016).

However, they did find a female to male ratio of 1.7 to 1 in T-cell CLL (Bromberek et al., 2016). Breed type may have affected the occurrence of any form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in cats and dogs. For example, one study found a higher occurrence rate of the disease among German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers than in other breeds. However, although the study’s sample was representative, it only reflected the demographics of the study’s location rather than represent the reality of the entire dog species.

The cause or causes of the disease in people and animals remain unknown. In humans, researchers have tried to establish any relationship between CLL and chemical, radiation, or alkylating agents and found none. They have also not found any viruses associated with the disease in humans. However, they now believe a possible link between the disease and genetic factors exists (Bromberek et al., 2016).

The main reason for this assumption is that CLL is the most typical familial leukemia. CLL epidemiology further suggests that although the disease is non-communicable, sex (and genetics) affect a person’s susceptibility (Bromberek et al., 2016). It is difficult to draw the same conclusions about the disease in cats and dogs due to the absence of supporting evidence (statistical studies). However, because T-cell CLL is more common in cats and dogs than in humans (where B-cell are frequent), different pathopsychological and causative factors influence the disease’s development in animals and humans.

Analysis, Diagnostics, and the use of Cell Culture

Immunophenotyping and assessment of clonality help diagnose CLL in canines. T- Cell clonality identification is possible through immunophenotypic analysis of the TCR-Vβ. Moreover, cancerous T- Cell proliferation can be detected using a series of antibodies (Ripplinger et al., 2020). It is a significant part of the current diagnostic workup and prognostic stratification, making it an essential and appropriate cure for complex and various illnesses. It is widely and commonly utilized by flow cytometry.

The flow cytometry of serum, lymph nodes, and samples from the bone marrow may enhance the measurement and prognosis of canines such as dogs with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It is possible to spot abnormal cells through immunophenotyping, particularly with a low side scatter signal (Ripplinger et al. 2020). When conducted on an extensive scale, the procedure enables one to gather information about differentiation stages. Monitor the expression of prognostically vital aspects, and determine clonality. Moreover, neoplastic cells are a helping agent in the survival of canines who have CLL.

Blast cells have usually rounded and almost indented nucleus, evenly stippled chromatin, one to several conspicuous nucleoli, and a thin rim of basophilic cytoplasm. However, circulating neoplastic cells in canines with chronic lymphocytic leukemia usually are morphologically distinct from typically developed lymphocytes. Therefore, a decent blood smear can prove very helpful as a reevaluation tool (Levy et al., 2017).

The other type of test that can detect abnormal white blood cells in the blood is the bone marrow examination. In this specific test, blood samples are significant in determining the person’s condition through CLL; however, to know how severe the infection is, one might also need to conduct a bone marrow test. Physicians perform bone marrow aspiration and biopsy to retrieve bone marrow samples for testing. Usually, the model is taken from the back of the hip bone and usually forms other bones.

Some of the Common Disorders Caused by the Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline leukemia is one of the most common infections affecting cats. It mainly suppresses the animal’s immune system since it is a contagious retrovirus. Such disorders, which are associated with FeLV, are highly prevalent in these small animals. Some commonly related conditions are immunosuppression, anemia, reproduction complications, enteritis, neurology dysfunction, and stomach issues (Ripplinger et al., 2020). The disease caused by this feline leukemia virus is untransmittable to the next generation.

Common Symptoms

The most common feline leukemia symptom is the yellow coloring of the mouth while the eyes turn red. Besides, the size of the lymph nodes tends to increase. The animal also registers a loss of weight, and sometimes it may lack appetite; thus, it does not eat well as usual (Ripplinger et al., 2020). Apart from that, there is also an infection of the skin and the upper part of the respiratory organ. In this case, any cat or animal affected by this virus tends to shed a more considerable percentage of the fur on their bodies. The infection is more evident in the body fluids like the urine and feces. However, this disease is not contagious, but it takes a long period of close contact between the susceptible and the infected cat.

Goals of the Research to find out Different Treatment Techniques for Canines and Feline Suffering from CLL and FeLV infections

All the affected animals should get maintained under closed doors. The veterinary department has not yet found the cure for this virus, but secondary diseases that might appear can get immediate treatment. Besides, chemotherapy treatment for cats can work as well. The above is a type of cancer of the blood caused by a more rapid white blood cell production. It is known to be rampant in middle age or old animals and dogs explicitly in this case (Ripplinger et al., 2020). It slowly develops by beginning to show few visible symptoms which are related to the disease. With consistency in monitoring and using chemotherapy, physicians can maintain the affected animal’s condition for a prolonged period, and after that, doctors could improve their quality of life.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is incurable, and the only way to manage it is through lifestyle maintenance. Most dogs suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia may also experience anemia and similar complications. It is because anemia is usually normocytic normochromic at the same time, not easily regenerated. Some studies showed that dogs with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (20%) had macrocytic regenerative anemia (Comazzi et al., 2011). However, the anemia present in such animals suffering from leukemia is always low or mild in some other instances.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is usually characterized by weight loss, although there might be unexplained loss of weight of more than 9% of the total body weight within six months (Levy et al., 2017). The change could probably mean progress in the disease, increased body temperature, feeling weak, and having swollen lymph nodes at the lumps beneath the skin. Due to the enlargement of the spleen, there is pain in the belly of feeling full.

Types of CLL and Treatment of Cancer in Felines

Two categories of this chronic leukemia are myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphocytic. Myeloid leukemia commences in the myeloid cells while the lymphocytic starts at the lymphocytes, and it occurs more frequently than the myeloid—the treatment of cancer in dogs (Comazzi et al., 2011). Since there is no instant cure for such type of cancer, the only best option is to do careful monitoring since the condition’s progress is slow, and it might not need any treatment at the early stages. Doctors should keep the symptoms in check and frequent visitations to the centenary officer for physical examination and blood cell count evaluation.

Monitoring the dog’s nutritional status and giving supplements will effectively improve the overall condition of the animal. Chemotherapy will also minimize the dog’s pain level and lengthen the life period in a quality way, strengthening the dog’s immunity against any form of complications that may come up. Regarding the dogs’ symptoms and level of reaction to offered treating service, one may be required to alter the normal doings to regulate the loss of the dogs’ appetite and minimize energy use.

Background of Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline leukemia virus is among the retrovirus, which multiplies within most tissues, including the respiratory epithelium, the salivary gland found in the mouth, and the body’s bone marrow. If falls in the family of oncovirinae. Oncovirus is one of the viruses that causes body cancer. There are muted forms of FeLV like the FeLV-B, the FeLV-C, and the FeLV-T, most of these cats’ developments. FeLV-B raises the neoplastic infection frequency, while FeLV-C leads to erythroid hypoplasia followed by several anemias (Min et al., 2009). FeLV-T can attack and destroy T lymphocytes in the body, thus causing lymphoid depletion. Other oncoviruses are the feline sarcoma virus, the two human being T-lymphotropic viruses, and the mouse leukemia virus. Although oncogenesis contains more dramatic side effects, it causes proliferative, immunological disorders.

Leukemia in Dogs

Leukemia is a worldwide disease, and according to the data tabled by the “nationwide data set,” 3.1% (United States of America) of the cats -24.5% (Thailand) were tested positive for the virus FeLV (Levy et al., 2017). There was no result for the same study from Ukraine. The virus is a malignant blood infection. The sources state that the affected cats die within 3 to 4 years though there are chances of recovery (Levy et al., 2017). The affected carry the danger of spreading out the virus domestically or out in the streets.

Pathogenesis in Feline Leukemia Virus

After the incubation process at the oronasal, the virus multiplies first at the pharyngeal. From there, it transfers to the spleen, lymph nodes, and salivary glands. During this tissue’s secretion and excretion process, the virus also appears in the platelets and leukocytes. It is always visible after 2-4 weeks after infection. Its acute stage occurs between 2-6 weeks after a cat has gotten the infection (Min et al., 2009). The disease’s detection is usually rare though signs like fever and malaise are present. Cats with low immunity are consistently unable to resist or withstand the infection, and the disease develops progressively, and in the end, the animal dies.

The oncogenesis occurs when the condition gets into the host’s cellular gene, causing the formation of the recombinant subgroup virus. FeLV-B subgroups are FeLV-B, which can erupt new neoplastic action in any recombinant entering the cell.

Classifications as Progression, Abortive, Regressive, and Focal

Previously most cats were assumed to have the abortive infection, which changes to viremia followed by the destruction of viral infection. Aviramic is a cat believed to have a regressive disorder, and they never shed the virus, although they tend to be free from diseases associated with FeLV (Min et al., 2009). However, these animals carry the infection, and later they might have to shed characteristics. Moreover, focal conditions are scarce, and they are involved in viral replication in various specific tissues, like the eye, hence low antigen levels.

The Software for Identifying Immunophenotype

The above method combines specified antibodies with fluorescent compounds to estimate definite protein expression from a cell population. The extracted protein helps in identifying and categorizing the tagged cells. When conducting a study of immune-related infection, CD4-T cells are measured. Immunophenotyping helps in determining the presence or absence of cell surface markers. Furthermore, CD56 can help determine natural killer cells’ levels (Comazzi et al., 2011). scientists can also use it to define cancer cells by uncovering the availability or availability of a cell marker that identifies with different severity levels.

Current Research

Recent studies still rank B-cell CLL as the commonest blood malignancy in humans in developed countries, with its primary risk factor being genetics. For cats and dogs, enough studies about CLL remain lacking. In recent years, the most extensive investigation found the median age of CLL in dogs to be 11 years, with no sex predilection. The research involved 6,184 dogs, 491 of which had B-CLL, while the remaining 5,673 individuals were controls (Bromberek et al., 2016). The authors concluded that there is an overrepresentation of CLL in small dog breeds. However, a genetic explanation of this relationship was not available.

Future studies of small-breed dogs’ genetics may reveal the associated risk factors (Min et al., 2009). There is also a shift in research to immunochromatography. It provides a way in which scientists can efficiently study liquid substances like blood without using some of the advanced machines and procedures that require high resources. Immunofluorescence assay (IFA) can happen by potential cross-reaction with antibodies against other herpesviruses (Levy et al., 2017). Nonetheless, nonspecific reactions against cellular components due to primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) cell lines. Lastly, PRC brings like-minded professionals together for research and to clarify various issues in their profession.

Veterinarians perform tests such as a chemistry panel, a blood test used to measure the number of certain substances or elements in the blood. Urinalysis involves studying and examining urine to know the urine content and identify specific diseases, thus helping in diagnosing the sicknesses. On the other hand, chest radiographs identify internal conditions. Abdominal ultrasound aids in diagnosing internal disorders or ailments in the abdominal section or monitoring the treatment’s progress performed on that part of the body (Comazzi et al., 2011). Marrow aspirate entails extracting soft tissue liquid samples inside the bone marrow for test purposes, helping find some of the diseases after conducting an analysis.

Bloodwork is the first step in determining the course of treatment, and it allows veterinarians to pursue the appropriate research level to define the necessary treatment the animal needs. Not all research levels are required to treat the animal because it depends on whether the disease is within the animal. Due to the above reason, the blood test is an essential part of identifying these diseases and deciding on the best measures for treatment purposes. The blood test will also help the veterinarians know the level of the ailments that have reached the animals’ bodies and whether they can be treated or sustained.


Chronic leukemia in small, domesticated animals and FeLV are not widely acknowledged because human medicine is a greater priority. Thus, there is still little research that allows veterinarians and specialists to diagnose domestic animals with such illnesses. Depending on the sickness’s severity, this research authorizes veterinarians and specialists to prolong these animals’ lives. The most common way to determine whether or not the animal has this type of disease is through blood work, allowing veterinarians to treat the animals depending on the disease’s extent.


Bromberek, J. L., Rout, E. D., Agnew, M. R., Yoshimoto, J., Morley, P. S., & Avery, A. C. (2016). Breed distribution and clinical characteristics of B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia in dogs. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 30(1), 215-222. Web.

Comazzi, S., Gelain, M. E., Martini, V., Riondato, F., Miniscalco, B., Marconato, L., Stefanello, D., & Mortarino, M. (2011). Immunophenotype predicts survival time in dogs with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 25(1), 100–106. Web.

Levy, J. K., Crawford, P. C., & Tucker, S. J. (2017). Performance of 4 point‐of‐care screening tests for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 31(2), 521-526. Web.

Min, L., Kesic, M., Han, Y., Lianbo, Y., & Green, P. L. (2009). Kinetic analysis of human t-cell leukemia virus type 1 gene expression in cell culture and infected animals. Journal of Virology, 83(8), 3788-3797. Web.

Ripplinger, A., Silva, A. P. D., Wrzesinski, M. R., Ferrarin, D. A., Schwab, M. L., Pozzobon, R., Flores, M. N., Thompson, R. P., Mario, & Mazzanti, A. (2020). Aortic thrombosis in a dog with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Ciência Rural, 50(4). Web.

Cite this paper


NerdyHound. (2022, August 10). Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals. Retrieved from


NerdyHound. (2022, August 10). Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals.

Work Cited

"Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals." NerdyHound, 10 Aug. 2022,


NerdyHound. (2022) 'Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals'. 10 August.


NerdyHound. 2022. "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals." August 10, 2022.

1. NerdyHound. "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals." August 10, 2022.


NerdyHound. "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals." August 10, 2022.


NerdyHound. 2022. "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals." August 10, 2022.

1. NerdyHound. "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals." August 10, 2022.


NerdyHound. "Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Small Domesticated Animals." August 10, 2022.