What is anemia in dogs?
Anemia is typically a symptom of an underlying disease, and can occur when your dog’s body doesn’t produce enough haemoglobin or red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. Energy is then produced by cells and carbon dioxide is left behind, then exhaled out of the body via the lungs. But with too few red blood cells, less oxygen is carried, leading to weakness and fatigue.
Severe blood loss due to conditions such as stomach ulcers or cancer can also cause anemia, as can trauma such as an accident or injury.
Types of Anemia
These are common types of anemia in dogs:
- Blood loss anemia
- Hemolytic anemia
- Aplastic or non-regenerative anemia
Symptoms of Anemia
Based on the underlying cause, signs and symptoms of anemia in dogs may vary. They can include:
- Weight loss
- Swelling in the jaw or face
- Black stools
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness or lethargy
- Pale ears, gums or eyes
- Rapid breathing or fast pulse
How to Treat Anemia in Dogs
An online search for “treatments for anemia in dogs” will reveal a fair amount of advice and opinions on how to treat the condition. Make sure to check any advice with your veterinarian, and ask any questions you may have about recommended treatments or medications.
Depending on your dog’s history and current symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests, which may range from a complete blood count to identify how anemic your pup is and evaluate red blood cell characteristics, and chemistry tests to evaluate sugar levels and organ function to specialized tests that may help identify an underlying infectious disease. They may also test for iron in the blood, since an iron deficiency can lead to anemia.
If your dog is diagnosed with anemia, prognosis will depend on the cause and whether the underlying cause of the anemia can be treated. Once the cause of your dog’s anemia has been established by diagnostic testing completed by your vet, a course of treatment can be recommended.
Your vet may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:
- Deworming or parasite medications
- Gastrointestinal medication
- Potassium phosphate supplements
- Change to existing medications
- Bone marrow transfusion
- Intravenous fluids
- Blood transfusion
- Immunosuppressive drugs
Wondering about good sources of iron for dogs?
Adding fresh foods with iron in them to your dog’s diet can help boost this important mineral. To start, you can feed your dog canned sardines along with their regular food, raw egg yolk (from organic or local eggs), green vegetables, and beef liver. Vitamin C can help your dog’s body absorb iron from the intestinal tract. Depending on your dog’s size, 500 to 2,000 milligrams of the vitamin per day may be necessary.
Do not start your dog on a new diet, medication or other treatment without discussing this with your vet. Since liver is a rich food, ask your vet how much your dog should have so as not to cause a case of diarrhea.
As for how long dogs can live with anemia, it should be treated as a serious symptom since some of its causes are very serious.
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 suspect your dog has anemia, or another serious symptom of illness or disease? Our vets are experienced in diagnosing and treating a range of conditions and illnesses in pets. Contact our Greensboro animal clinic today to book an examination.
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