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 it to 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.
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.
Kind of Anemia in Dogs
There are varieties of anemia in dogs such as:
Blood loss anemia It occurs 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 It 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.
Methemoglobinemia It occurs when 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
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.
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 culprit to 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.
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.