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“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” — Roger Caras

How to Treat Anemia in Dogs – Caring for Your Anemic Best Friend

Anemia is a medical condition that refers to the decrease of red blood cells (RBCs) and/or hemoglobin circulating throughout the body. It may be caused by another condition. Bone marrow is responsible for creating red blood cells and discharging them into the bloodstream. Red blood cells work through your body for about three months until damaged and taken out of the system and replaced by new ones.

What's Anaemia

A reduced amount of red blood cells is either due to decreased production of red blood cells, cell destruction, or increased reduction through hemorrhage or bleeding. Anemic patients will suffer symptoms from the lack of oxygen that is supposed to be provided by hemoglobin to the cells.

Types of Anemia in Dogs

There are varieties of anemia in dogs such as:

Blood loss anemia
This happens following a heavy loss of blood, due to a wound, surgery, or a bleeding disorder. It can also be due to internal hemorrhage as a result of parasites, cancer, or other diseases.

Hemolytic anemia
It occurs when there is a destruction or shortened lifespan of red blood cells. This happens when the white blood cells attack the body’s own cells and destroy the red blood cells.

Aplastic or non-regenerative anemia
This occurs when there is inadequate production of red blood cells. Problems in the bone marrow such as bone marrow disease, kidney failure, tumors, parvovirus, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy drugs are some of the reasons for the decrease in the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

This shows there is an excess of methemoglobin in the blood. While hemoglobin carries oxygen, the methemoglobin does not. Methemoglobin is the product of iron oxygenation but it is naturally transformed back into hemoglobin. If there is a disruption in the transformation of methemoglobin to hemoglobin the blood will appear brownish as a result of loss in oxygen.

Symptoms of Anemia In Dogs

The most obvious symptom of anemia is the change of the color of the gums from pink to a pale pink or white color.

Anemic dogs will become weak and lethargic and lose weight.

Other symptoms may include difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, a faster heart rate, bloody nose, blood in urine or feces, and vomiting.

Diagnosing Anemia

A check-up is required to have a full diagnosis of your dog’s condition. Several tests will be done to make sure there is no other reason for your dog’s symptoms.
Your dog will undergo different types of blood tests, fecal tests, urinalysis, and ultrasound.
Your vet may give your dog a bone marrow biopsy or even an aspiration to determine the type of anemia. It can be either responsive or unresponsive anemia.

Responsive anemia means that your pet’s bone marrow is still attempting to fix the imbalance in red blood cells by discharging immature red blood cells.

If the bone marrow is not functioning anymore, the anemia is categorized as unresponsive.

Treating Anemia

The treatment of anemia may need a blood transfusion, and aiding the underlying cause of the imbalance of red blood cells. The treatment of the underlying conditions will vary depending on the illness. This may include drugs or maintenance chemotherapy, corticosteroids. It is also probable that your dog may undergo an operation.

Can anemia in dogs be cured?

Anemia in dogs can be cured or managed successfully. Speak to your veterinarian if you're concerned

What is a good source of iron for dogs?

Just like in humans, rich offal is a great source of Iron, including liver, heart and lungs, but it's also found in brewer's yeast and eggs.

Is anemia in dogs painful?

As in humans, anemia isn't painful, but your dog may be a little achier than normal, or more lethargic.

Watch this informative video about anemia by a professional vet: