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Anemia in Dogs

Anemia in dogs is a serious health condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. Our veterinarians explain the different types of anemia in dogs, along with their causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Why Anemia Occurs in Dogs

Anemia in dogs can occur for several reasons, such as blood loss from trauma, stomach ulcers, cancer, or the dog's body's inability to produce an adequate amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin.

If you observe that your dog has anemia, it could be an indication that your furry friend is suffering from an underlying disease or condition. Therefore, seeking immediate veterinary attention for proper diagnosis and treatment is highly recommended.

Types of Regenerative Anemia in Dogs

If your dog has regenerative anemia, it means that the bone marrow is producing red blood cells normally, but unable to supply the body's needs due to blood loss or cell destruction after they have been produced.

Blood Loss Anemia

  • Blood loss anemia is a type of regenerative anemia in dogs that can result from severe blood loss due to a bleeding disorder, accident, injury, or surgery. Internal bleeding can also lead to blood loss anemia and may occur due to parasites, cancer, ulcers, or other serious health conditions.

Immune-Mediated & Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs

  • Your dog is suffering from hemolytic anemia, also known as immune-mediated anemia. This condition happens when the red blood cells in your dog's body are destroyed or broken down. Although non-immune factors such as toxins, parasites, hereditary diseases, or low levels of phosphorus can cause this type of anemia in some cases, it is mainly triggered by the immune system.

Aplastic or Non-Regenerative Anemia in Dogs

Canine aplastic anemia, also known as anemia of inflammatory disease (AID) or non-regenerative anemia, is characterized by insufficient production of red blood cells. This condition is commonly caused by bone marrow disease, kidney disease, exposure to toxins, parvovirus, chemotherapy drugs, and other medications in dogs.

Methemoglobinemia in Dogs

  • Genetic disorders can lead to too much methemoglobin in the blood and result in methemoglobinemia in dogs. Methemoglobinemia can also result from exposure to toxins, including human medications, such as benzocaine, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.

Symptoms of Anemia in Dogs

Your dog's symptoms will depend upon the type of anemia it is suffering from and the underlying cause of the condition. The following are some of the most common symptoms of anemia in dogs.

  • Pale gums, eyes, or ears
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Black stools
  • Fast pulse or rapid breathing
  • Swelling of the jaw or face
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Contact your veterinarian right away to arrange for an examination if your pet is exhibiting symptoms of anemia. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial when it comes to treating canine conditions that can cause anemia.

Causes of Anemia in Dogs

Anemia can result in dogs due to a number of serious health conditions, such as:

  • Cushing’s disease
  • Chronic diseases suppress red blood cell production
  • Infectious diseases (such as canine distemper)
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Severe blood loss
  • Medications that interfere with the production of red blood cells
  • Poisons or toxins
  • Cancer
  • Tick-borne diseases
  • Poor nutrition
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Bone marrow disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Blood loss caused by parasites

Treatment for Anemia in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed with anemia, its treatment will depend upon the underlying cause of the condition. Your dog's treatment for anemia could include:

  • Intravenous fluids
  • Deworming
  • Parasite medications
  • Gastrointestinal medication
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Change in existing medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Immunosuppressive drugs
  • Blood transfusion
  • Bone marrow transfusion
  • Potassium phosphate supplements

The Prognosis for Dogs with Anemia

Anemia can be a sign of serious conditions, including cancer, autoimmune disorders, or poisoning. Therefore, the prognosis for dogs with anemia varies based on whether the underlying condition can be treated effectively.

Preventing Anemia

To prevent canine anemia, it is important to take certain precautions. This includes providing your dog with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Avoid exposing your dog to toxic substances such as human food and medications. Using year-round parasite prevention medications can also help protect your dog against worms, fleas, and ticks, which can lead to anemia.

If you have a dog breed that is at a higher risk of developing anemia (such as Shih Tzus, Labrador Retrievers, American Cocker Spaniels, and Miniature Schnauzers), it is recommended to schedule a veterinary wellness exam every six months. This is to monitor for early signs of the condition and prevent it from worsening.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you think your dog may be anemic, contact our Jackson vets immediately to book an examination.

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