Anemia in dogs is typically a symptom of a serious health issue that requires urgent veterinary care. Today, our Cordova vets explain the different types of anemia we see in dogs, as well as what causes them, the various symptoms, and treatments that are available to help your pup to feel better.
Why Anemia Occurs in Dogs
Anemia can occur if your pup’s body is unable to produce enough haemoglobin or red blood cells, or when your dog suffers severe blood loss due to trauma or conditions such as stomach ulcers or cancer.
If your dog has anemia, its a good indication that your pet is suffering from an underlying condition or disease that requires urgent veterinary attention.
What are the different types of anemia?
Blood Loss Anemia
- Blood loss anemia 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.
Aplastic or Non-Regenerative Anemia
- Aplastic or non-regenerative anemia in dogs is characterized by the insufficient production of red blood cells. In dogs, common causes of aplastic or non-regenerative anemia include bone marrow disease, kidney disease, exposure to toxins, parvovirus, chemotherapy drugs and other medications.
- 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.
- Hemolytic anemia is characterized by the breakdown or destruction of red blood cells in your dog’s body. This form of anemia often stems from immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), or the non-immune mediated form of the condition (caused by toxins, parasites, low phosphorus levels or hereditary disease).
Symptoms of Anemia in Dogs
The symptoms shown by your dog will depend upon the type of anemia they are 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
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If your pet is displaying signs of anemia, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to schedule an examination. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential when it comes to treating dogs with conditions that can lead to 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 that suppress red blood cell production
- Infectious diseases (including canine distemper)
- Bleeding from the intestines
- Severe blood loss due to injury or accident
- Medications that interfere with the production of red blood cells
- Poisons or toxins
- Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease
- Poor nutrition
- Bone marrow disease
- Kidney disease
- Blood loss caused by parasites
Treatment for Anemia in Dogs
The treatment that your veterinarian prescribes for your dog's anemia will depend on what is causing the condition. Your dog's treatment could include:
- Intravenous fluids
- Parasite medications
- Gastrointestinal medication
- Change in existing medications
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Blood transfusion
- Bone marrow transfusion
- Potassium phosphate supplements
Prognosis for Dogs with Anemia
Anemia can be an indication of a very serious or life-threatening condition such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, or poisoning. So the prognosis for dogs with anemia varies based upon the availability of effective treatment for the underlying illness.
Can I prevent my dog from developing anemia?
The only way to prevent anemia in dogs is by preventing the conditions that cause it. Keep substances that are toxic to dogs (such as human food and medications) far away from your canine companion, and provide your pup with a healthy diet and an appropriate level of exercise.
Protecting your dog against worms, fleas and ticks with year-round parasite prevention medications, can also help to prevent your dog from developing anemia.
If you’ve got a breed of dog that faces a higher than average risk of developing anemia (Shih Tzus, Labrador Retrievers, American Cocker Spaniels, and Miniature Schnauzers), take your pup for a veterinary wellness exam - every six months - to monitor for early signs of the condition.
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.
Do you think that your dog may be anemic? Contact our Cordova vets at Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital today to book an examination for your pup.
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