Typically, anemia is a symptom of an underlying disease. It can impact your dog’s body in many different ways. Today, our Baltimore vets explain how we treat anemia in dogs, which diet options may be ideal and more.
What is anemia in dogs?
Generally, anemia happens when a dog’s body does not produce enough red blood cells or hemoglobin, which carry oxygen to the tissues in healthy canines. The cells produce energy and carbon dioxide is left behind, before being exhaled from the body via the lungs.
But with an insufficient number of red blood cells, less oxygen is carried to the tissues, which leads to fatigue and weakness.
Anemia is most often a symptom of an underlying disease, but can also be caused by severe blood loss due to conditions such as cancer or stomach ulcers. Other potential causes include injury, an accident or trauma.
Types of Anemia
Common types of anemia in dogs include:
- Hemolytic anemia
- Blood loss anemia
- Aplastic or non-regenerative anemia
Signs 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
If you search “treatments for anemia in dogs”, you’ll likely find a significant amount of advice and opinions. However, always consult your veterinarian about any advice you’re thinking of implementing and ask any questions you may have about recommended medications or treatments.
Depending on your dog’s current symptoms and history, diagnostics may be recommended. These may range from a complete blood count to learn how anemic your pooch is and assess characteristics of red blood cells, and chemistry tests to examine organ function and sugar levels, to specialized tests that may help to reveal an underlying infectious disease. Since iron deficiency can lead to anemia, your vet may also want to test for iron in the blood.
If the vet does diagnose your dog with anemia, the prognosis will depend on the cause and whether the underlying condition causing the anemia can be treated. Once the cause has been determined through diagnostic testing, your veterinarian can recommend an effective course of treatment.
One or a combination of these treatments may be recommended:
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Deworming or parasite medications
- Blood transfusion
- Bone marrow transfusion
- Intravenous fluids
- Change to existing medications
- Potassium phosphate supplements
- Gastrointestinal medication
What are good sources of iron for dogs?
You can boost the amount of iron in your dog’s system by supplementing his diet with fresh foods containing this important mineral. You can start with green vegetables, beef liver, raw egg yok (from local or organic eggs) and adding canned sardines to their regular food.
Depending on your dog’s size, you’ll want to aim to add anywhere from 500 to 2,000 milligrams of Vitamin C (which can help the body absorb iron from the intestinal tract) per day.
Don’t forget to check with your vet before starting your dog on any new diet, medication or other treatment. Because liver is a rich food, ask how much your dog should be given - you don’t want to cause a case of diarrhea while trying to treat anemia.
When it comes to predicting how long dogs can live with anemia, it should be treated as a serious symptom by you and your vet, since some of its causes are very serious. Prognosis will depend on the underlying cause and how early and effectively it can be treated.
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.