Generally, human beings find blood and blood-related things to be scary. Although this makes sense psychologically, it can also mean that human brains will shut down on matters regarding their dog’s blood.
If you see signs of anemia in your dog or a veterinary doctor diagnoses it with the condition, you may panic, making it hard to process vital information that could help keep your dog healthy.
The article has provided all the details, including causes of anemia in dogs, its signs and symptoms, prevention measures, different types of anemia and treatment of the condition.
What is Anemia in Dogs?
Anemia in dogs refers to a condition in which your dog lacks sufficient red blood cells or hemoglobin circulating in the bloodstream.
It can also result when your dog loses a lot of blood due to conditions like stomach ulcers, cancer, or a severe accident.
Red blood cells supply oxygen to the cells in the dog’s body and remove carbon dioxide.
Your dog may have a drop in the red blood cell count for several reasons causing low blood pressure or blood smear. These include blood loss, destruction of red blood cells, or inadequate formation of new red blood cells.
Dogs with good health produce their red blood cells in the bone marrow and biochemical profile is good. These cells circulate in the dog’s body for nearly three months. After this period, they break down.
The bone marrow forms new cells to replace the other cells to form complete blood cell count, and the cycle continues.
Causes of Anemia in Dogs
There are many types of anemia, each with its cause. In addition, specific dog breeds are predisposed to conditions that may cause anemia. It is vital to ask your veterinarian about your dog’s health-related risks and what you can do to minimize the chance of your pet suffering from them.
The condition can be long-term, temporary, severe or mild. In most cases, anemia in dogs has many causes. Anemia in dogs can develop from numerous illnesses or injuries, including:
- Bone marrow disease
- Trauma such as auto accidents which cause internal and external bleeding leading to excessive blood loss
- Parasite infestations (hookworms, roundworms, fleas, ticks, etc.) which cause blood loss
- Some types of cancer
- Tick-bone disease
- Genetic defects leading to regenerative disorder
- Immune disorders, in which the body attacks its healthy blood cells
- Kidney disease
- Infectious diseases like canine influenza and parvovirus
- Some human and pet medications which interfere the red blood cells production
- Bleeding from the intestines due to inflammation or disease
- Poor nutrition and nutritional imbalances
- Certain foods like onions
- Cushing’s disease
- Toxins like a rat or lead poison
- Chronic diseases suppress the production of red blood cells
Types of Anemia in Dogs
Various forms of anemia are caused by different diseases and conditions. Therefore, all dogs are at risk of suffering anemia. For instance, parasitic infestations like fleas could cause blood loss and anemia in your dog.
That is why you need to ensure tick and flea prevention measures. Here, we look at the types of anemia your dog can suffer from.
Non- regenerative Anemia
Dogs can suffer aplastic anemia when their bodies fail to produce adequate red blood cells. The type of anemia can also result from kidney disease, toxins exposure, parvovirus, and specific medications.
Hemolytic anemia develops when your dog’s red blood cells break down or get destroyed. The condition results from non-immune mediated disease caused by toxins, hereditary disease, and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.
Blood Loss Anemia
If your dog experiences blood loss due to an injury, surgery, or bleeding disease, it could lead to blood loss anemia. Moreover, the condition could also result from internal bleeding caused by parasites, ulcers, or cancer.
Some dogs may have genetic disorders which lead to excessive methemoglobin in their blood resulting in methemoglobinemia. Also, exposing your dog to poisons and human medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen could cause this form of anemia.
Warning Signs of Anemia in Dogs
Anemia can be fatal if not treated appropriately. A few factors determine the sign of anemia in your dog.
They include the severity and cause of the disease. What’s more, the characters vary in different pets. In some cases, your anemic dog may not display any signs. Regardless, you need to watch out for the warning signs of anemia in your dog.
1. Anemic Dog Gums
One of the most apparent signs of recognizing an anemic dog is a change in gums’ color. Instead of healthy pink gums, your dog’s gums may become pale pink or white gums.
The causes of pale gums are insufficient blood in the body.
Your dog will also experience fatigue. If your dog quickly runs out of energy during play or acts listless, tired, and weak when exercising, it could be anemic.
3. Easy to Bruise
Thirdly, you may notice bruising on your dog’s skin. The bruising may be due to severe loss or destruction of platelets or rat poisoning.
4. Blood in the Stool.
Anemic dogs also suffer melena, where the dog’s stool is dark and tarry. In addition, the dog’s vomit or feces having dark blood is a warning sign of anemia.
5. Fast Pulse
If your dog’s pulse is faster than normal or experiences irregular heartbeats, it could also indicate anemia.
Schedule an appointment with the veterinarian.
6. Loss of Appetite
Another symptom of anemia in dogs is loss of appetite, which eventually causes significant weight loss.
The dog may also experience severe headaches, dizziness, and lightheadedness.
8. Yellow Skin and Eyes
Severe blood loss or anemia could also make your dog’s skin appear pale or yellowish. Sometimes the whites of the eyes can take on a yellow hue.
9. Shortness of Breath
Additionally, it could lead to shortness of breath. Your dog may be panting more often or be unable to exercise normally.
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Steps to Take if You Suspect Your Dog Has Anemia
If you see any of the mentioned symptoms in your dog, you need to visit your pet doctor immediately. Most veterinarians advise immediate tending for dogs with blood in vomit or feces.
The physician will test and diagnose your dog to determine the type of anemia your pet has and its causes.
In addition to the blood test, they will also perform ultrasounds, x-rays, and imaging for diagnostic purposes.
Veterinarians can perform many tests. Diagnostic tests include packed cell volume (PVC). PVC determines the red blood cells percentage in the bloodstream.
If the measure falls below 35 percent, the dog will be anemic.
The vet can also know the responsive behavior of anemia by conducting bone marrow, and blood smears biopsies. If your dog has responsive anemia, it means their bone marrow is trying to correct the condition.
But if the dog’s bone marrow is not responding well, the vet will diagnose unresponsive anemia.
Treatment of Anemia in Dogs
Unfortunately, anemia can indicate severe or fatal underlying conditions such as cancer or autoimmune infection.
Treating anemia involves two steps:
Assess the Severity
First, the pet doctor will assess the severity of the condition to know if the dog requires a blood transfusion.
Treat Underlying Conditions
Secondly, the vet will plan on how to treat the underlying condition. Available treatment for anemia in dogs depends on the severity and cause of the disease.
Your vet will recommend a range of treatment options from surgery to medications after performing a dog examination. You may also prevent some types of anemia by giving your dog a healthy, well-balanced diet. Some treatments your pet doctor will recommend are:
- Intravenous fluids
- Potassium phosphate supplements
- Blood transfusion
- Parasite drugs and deworming
- Bone marrow transfusion
- Immunosuppressive medications
- Gastrointestinal medications
- Changing medications in use
How to Prevent Anemia in Dogs
Thee are several measures you can take to prevent your dog from suffering anemia.
First, you need to keep toxic substances away from your curious dog. These include human foods, medications, rat poisons, and other toxins. Only provide your dog with a healthy diet to ensure proper functionality.
You should also protect your pup against parasites like worms, ticks, and fleas throughout the year.
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You can use quality parasite prevention products to eliminate potential causes of anemia in dogs. If you own dog breeds like Labrador retrievers, Shih Tzus, miniature schnauzers, and American Cocker Spaniels that are susceptible to anemia, you should schedule regular visits to a vet.
Your dog’s primary care doctor should perform an examination every six months to detect early symptoms of anemia. They can diagnosis your dog and start treatment before the condition becomes severe.
Anemia in dogs may be a sign of a serious another condition. It can be caused by underlying conditions such as infectious diseases, bleeding disorder, chemotherapy drugs, bone marrow disease, dangerous toxins, autoimmune conditions, poor nutrition, and trauma.
The vet will perform further examination and give instructions on caring for your dog. Remember, the cause and applicable treatment of anemia will determine your dog’s prognosis.
Dogs have survival instincts; therefore, they may appear healthy outside even if they are sick.
As a dog owner, you need to be keen on your dog and notice any subtle changes. You need to know your dog better to know if something is wrong and take them to the vet.