Anemia in dogs, although commonly thought of as a condition by itself, is usually a symptom of another underlying medical cause. It is most definitely not the kind of thing you ignore. Without medical intervention, this is one condition that could prove fatal.
- What is Anemia?
- What Causes Anemia in Dogs?
- What Are the Signs of Anemia in Dogs?
- How is Anemia in Dogs Diagnosed?
- How to Treat Anemia in Dogs at Home
- Veterinarian Anemia Treatments
- Emergency Fund
What is Anemia?
Anemia is not a disease; it is a symptom of another medical condition, and it can affect dogs, cats, humans, and all other animals with blood. It is an indication that something else is going on – and that something could, potentially, be deadly if ignored and left untreated.
When your dog is anemic, one or both of the following things is happening:
1: Low numbers of hemoglobin in the blood.
2: Low numbers of red blood cells in the blood.
Both hemoglobin and red blood cells are vital for keeping pups and other animals healthy. Hemoglobin, for example, carries oxygen around your dog’s body, so reduced numbers of hemoglobin in the blood will cause your pup to experience the symptoms typically associated with reduced oxygen.
Read more: Autoimmune Diseases and Disorders in Dogs
Regenerative Anemia in Dogs
This happens when the bone marrow knows the body needs more blood cells, and then makes them… but they are either too immature to do any good, or the bone marrow doesn’t have the capacity to keep up with demand.
Blood loss can cause regenerative anemia alongside parasites, poisons, ulcers, and hereditary conditions.
Non-Regenerative Anemia in Dogs
According to research, also known as aplastic anemia, the non-regenerative type is often caused by a hormonal imbalance or similar hormone problem, or bone marrow deformities. The bone marrow knows the body needs more blood cells, but it can’t hear (or ignores) the message.
What Causes Anemia in Dogs?
A very wide and mixed assortment of medical conditions can cause anemia in dogs, including some of the following:
- Trauma (causing blood loss);
- Blood loss for other reasons;
- Lyme disease and other diseases carried by ticks, fleas, and other parasites;
- Various cancers;
- Canine distemper;
- Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA);
- Blood clot disorders;
- Poisoning, such as from garlic, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.;
- Chronic liver or kidney disease;
- Other long-term (chronic) conditions;
- Medications, such as antibiotics, hormone drugs, and cancer treatments;
- Hormonal imbalances;
- Nutritional problems/malnutrition.
This list is by no means a comprehensive one.
Read more: 7 Critical Signs Your Pet Needs Immediate Veterinary Attention
What Are the Signs of Anemia in Dogs?
Below, you will find a list of symptoms commonly associated with anemia in dogs. It must be noted, however, that not all dogs will present with all symptoms, or even any at all, whereas others can experience all of them.
- Facial or jaw swelling;
- Food, water, and treat avoidance;
- Losing weight;
- Disinterest in favorite toys, walks, or play-time activities;
- Lethargy and weakness;
- Faster or more labored breathing;
- Unusual skin color, often yellow;
- Change in gum color, often gray, yellow, or white – often one of the first obvious symptoms;
- Dizzy spells;
- Fast heart rate;
- Unsteady when upright;
- Visible blood loss, such as from the nose, a wound, or in vomit/stool/urine/sputum.
You can make looking out for the symptoms of anemia and other potentially dangerous canine conditions with a 24/7 monitoring system, such as the Petcube interactive pet camera. Not only can you keep an eye on your home when you’re not there, but you’ll be also able to see what your pets are getting up to, too.
How is Anemia in Dogs Diagnosed?
Anemia is something that needs to be treated by a professional. It is not something you can easily treat at home. In order to get your pooch treated, however, you will first need to have their condition diagnosed.
Anemia can be diagnosed in different ways, such as through urine tests, blood tests, fecal exams, physical exams, electrolyte tests, X-rays, endoscopies, ultrasounds, and more. The anemia itself might be quite obvious but getting to the cause of it can take some time.
In some cases, if the condition is believed to be bone marrow-related, an aspirate (surgery) may need to be completed – a biopsy of the bone marrow.
If the cause of the anemia is undetermined, a bone marrow biopsy can help to positively identify it.
In some cases, such as blood loss caused by trauma, the root cause of the anemia will be obvious, but this isn’t always the case. It can sometimes take extensive diagnostic testing to diagnose not just the anemia itself, but also the condition that’s causing it.
How to Treat Anemia in Dogs at Home
It is more than likely not going to be possible for you to treat your dog’s anemia at home. In some severe cases, canines require blood transfusions to help make up for the amount that has been lost. This is not something you can administer at home, obviously.
If a serious underlying medical condition is causing your dog’s anemia, such as cancer, you are running the risk of your pet dying if you choose at-home treatments rather than professional veterinary care.
You can work to increase iron-rich foods in your doggo’s diet, but this can be just as dangerous. If you aren’t aware of your pet’s vitamin and mineral levels, you might accidentally end up supplementing their diet with too much of something. And you know what they say: too much of something is just as bad as none of it!
Commercial dog food contains all the nutrients that dogs need to be fit and healthy. Unless you are feeding your pet a special diet, such as vegan/raw/homemade/etc, iron deficiency and anemia from food shouldn’t be a problem.
Veterinarian Anemia Treatments
Your vet will treat your pet to get the volume of blood back to normal, figure out what the underlying cause is (if it’s not obvious), and stop bleeding or future problems.
As previously mentioned, severe causes of anemia and blood loss will require blood transfusions – and sometimes multiple rounds. Thankfully, this isn’t always the case.
Once the underlying cause of anemia is diagnosed, that will be treated. In the case of cancer, that might be with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
How Long Can My Dog Live with Low Red Blood Cells (Anemia)?
Anemia in dogs is a life-threatening medical condition, but if you get your pet diagnosed, treatment can begin – either a cure or lifelong management-based treatments.
If your doggo only has a mild case of anemia, it can easily be treated provided the underlying cause is also treated. They will then go on to lead a happy, healthy, and normal life. If you ignore the symptoms, however, anemia could develop into something considerably more serious.
Are you worried about the cost of getting your dog treated in the case of an emergency? Those emergencies always come when you least expect them, don’t they? There’s good news on the horizon! If you find yourself caught short and unprepared (as we all do from time to time), Petcube’s Emergency Fund will step in and bear the financial brunt.
For $1 per day, you’ll not only have access to up to $3,000 of emergency vet care per year for your canine companion – up to six of your furry friends will also be covered. And, even better than that, you won’t be stressed to the max and out-of-pocket at the worst possible times.
Does pumpkin for dogs with anemia work?
Pumpkin is a pretty healthy food for dogs, although too much of it can cause stomach upsets. The food itself doesn’t contain a massive amount of iron, but it does contain fiber alongside vitamins C and B, which help with iron absorption.
What can I feed a dog with anemia?
If your vet has recommended an iron-rich diet to help treat anemia, you should look at incorporating more of the following into your pup’s food: beef liver, egg yolks (raw), sardines (canned), spinach and other green vegetables, seaweed, and more.
What cancers cause anemia in dogs?
All cancers have the potential to cause internal bleeding, blood loss, and anemia in dogs. It is more common with lymphoma-based cancers, however. Cancer is believed to be one of the most common (if not the most common) causes of anemia in canines. If you suspect your pet is experiencing anemia symptoms, seek medical advice immediately.