Anemia in dogs is a deficiency of red blood cells and can be caused by a lack of red blood cell production or loss of blood. It gives signs of pale or white gums.

Anemia is a symptom that occurs when the red blood cell counts or hemoglobin levels are lower than they should be.

Red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and then released into the bloodstream circulation. As the red blood cells get age or become damaged, they are removed from the bloodstream.

The number of circulating red blood cells may drop if there is a decrease in the production of them in the bone marrow.

Red blood cells keep your dog’s body supplied with oxygen. Hemoglobin, which is the protein inside the red blood cells, carries oxygen, and red blood cells are also responsible for removing carbon dioxide from your dog’s body.

A dog showing a anemia sign

Hemoglobin which forms part of the blood delivers oxygen to the cells and tissues of the body. Since they’re responsible for the transport and delivery of oxygen throughout the body, a deficiency in red blood cells and a lack of oxygen can be very dangerous to the health of the dog.

Causes of Anemia in Dogs

Diet imbalances:  This is when the feed of the dog does not contain adequate nutrients to supply iron to the dog. When this happens, there will be a shortage of blood in the dog and it can be fatal.

Infection diseases: Bacterial infection and other infectious diseases in the body of the dog will affect the red blood cells and lead to anemia.

Exposure to toxic chemicals: Consumption of chemicals, poisons, or inhaling these chemicals can lead to anemia when it spreads through a dog’s bloodstream and affects their red blood cells by destroying the red blood cells.

Loss of Blood: This can be internal or external loss of blood due to injury, wound, or bleeding sometimes during surgery.

Parasite infestations: The infestation of parasites such as ticks and fleas can contribute to blood loss from animals and this loss of red blood cells can result in anemia, especially in puppies and smaller dogs.

Drug reaction:  There are some drugs that cause a reaction in dogs; such medication like non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication causes internal usher or bleeding of the gastrointestinal of the dogs which bring about loss of blood and this result in anemia.

Others may include, cancer, kidney disease, bone marrow disease, etc

A dog with anemia symptom

The treatment options for the underlying condition will vary, depending on the disease, and could include medications or care involving corticosteroids, chemotherapy, or even surgery. Talk to your veterinarian about the best treatment for your dog.

Signs of Anemia in Dogs

  • Weight loss
  • Blood in vomit
  • Fast breathing
  • Reduced appetite
  • Pale gum
  • Black stool
  • Lack of appetite
  • Reduce exercise

Different forms of Anemia

Regenerative anemia is when the patient’s red blood cells count is low but the immature forms of the red blood cell are found in increased numbers. This means that your pet’s body is working overtime to replace the blood cells that are being lost.

A non-regenerative anemia is when the patient’s red blood cell counts are low and the body is not working overtime to replace them.

Treatment of Anemia in Dogs

Increase blood cell production

Medication that can supply more iron should be given to the dog. This will counter the effect of the inhibitory production of the red blood cell in the bone marrow. When this is done, there will be an increase in red blood cell count.

Avoid Blood loss

Removing the parasite such as flea, tick, hookworm that causes blood loss from the body of the dog will help to reduce blood loss which results into anemia. Treatment of internal bleeding may help to reduce blood loss also. Medication can be used for this treatment.

Natural Treatment.

Natural remedies can help support the dog’s recovery.  Iron deficiency is rarely a primary cause of anemia in dogs, supplementing a dog’s diet with high-iron meats such as cooked liver and other vitamins can help increase the body’s ability to carry oxygen. Dog owners should consult a veterinarian before administering any natural remedies.

Blood Transfusion

Dogs with severe anemia have a rapid respiratory and heart rate. Sometimes, some dogs may require taking blood, in this situation; a veterinarian might do a blood transfusion to help stabilize the dog until the cause of the anemia is found.

A dog undergoing blood transfusion

Immune disease Treatment

The dog’s immune system attacks the red blood cells and takes them to the spleen to be destroyed. Dogs are treated with corticosteroids and immunosuppressants to slow the destruction of red blood cells. These dogs may need blood transfusions to treat the resulting anemia.

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Kehinde Ezekiel is a freelance writer who has covered many topics, including home improvement, gardening, pets, tech, and parenting.

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