Meet Smokey! A canine multiple myeloma patient in remission

Smokey, a Miniature Schnauzer, came into Animal Emergency & Specialty Center’s oncology service in January 2018. He was diagnosed with advanced-staged multiple myeloma by his primary veterinarian.

Multiple myeloma is rare in both humans and dogs. It is a rare, malignant plasma cell cancer affecting the bone marrow and other blood producing organs. There is no gender or breed predilection for multiple myeloma in dogs. The average age of diagnosis is 8 to 9 years old.

What are the symptoms of canine multiple myeloma?
Symptoms of canine multiple myeloma include elevated blood calcium, blood count abnormalities, painful bone lesions, elevated blood protein, and, in some cases, renal failure. Multiple myeloma can cause pain and lameness, among other symptoms.

When Smokey first came to Animal Emergency & Specialty Center, he had an advanced case of this disease and exhibited a number of these abnormalities, including hyperesthesia (excessive physical sensitivity) and hypercalcemia (elevated blood calcium level).

How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?
Diagnosis of multiple myeloma in dogs requires at least two of the following criteria:

  1. Radiographic evidence of osteolysis (bone destruction): With multiple myeloma, bones often show a lytic or patchy appearance on radiographs, as you can see in the decalcified areas of Smokey’s spine in the radiograph below. Bones commonly affected by multiple myeloma include the spine, pelvis, ribs, skull, and proximal extremities.
  2. >20% plasma cells in bone marrow aspiration or biopsies: Bone marrow analysis is essential to diagnosing multiple myeloma. We do an aspiration and take core marrow biopsies from areas of bone destruction. If multiple myeloma is present, cytologic evaluation of the bone marrow shows that plasma cells constitute more than 20% of all nucleated cells.
  3. Monoclonal gammopathy on serum protein electrophoresis: Hyperproteinemia (elevated protein) and elevated globulin (a type of protein found in the blood) level are detected on routine bloodwork.
  4. Bence-Jones proteinuria: This is a particular type of protein in urine in cases of multiple myeloma.

When troubling symptoms don’t give clear answers, Animal Emergency & Specialty Center has specialists with advanced knowledge and tools to get those answers.

How is canine multiple myeloma treated?
Multiple myeloma is treated with symptomatic therapy for pain and chemotherapy.

The goal of chemotherapy is to decrease tumor cell numbers while treating the secondary systemic effects. Chemotherapy helps reduce bone pain and aids in bone healing, while decreasing serum immunoglobin levels.

Radiation therapy is effective in treating canine multiple myeloma, and often helps with bone pain.

With treatment, dogs can live another 18 months or longer.

After two months of therapy, and myriad diagnostics and therapeutics, Smokey is now in complete remission.

Animal Emergency & Specialty Clinic will be there to continue to monitor Smokey for long-term control of his disease!