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Anemia in Dogs: Most Important Information for Dog Owner

Anemia in dogs defined as a decrease in the total red blood cell (RBC) count, hemoglobin (Hb) concentration, and packed cell volume (PCV), taking into account variations for the age and breed of the dog. Anemia is not a specific disease or condition but is a result of some disease process or condition in dogs.

Important Information on Anemia in Dogs


Anemia is a common symptom in dogs that results from acute or chronic blood loss. The loss of blood may be due to external bleeding by any wound or cut and internal hemorrhage by any infectious or parasitic diseases. The condition can be diagnosed by examining the mucous membrane, blood count, and diagnosis of specific diseases. In my article, I shall discuss the most important causes and clinical signs of anemia with diagnosis and treatment procedures.

Dog Anemia Information

Causes of Anemia in Dogs


There is some disease that causes anemia. These include:

  • Different types of parasitic infestations are ticks, fleas, roundworms, hookworm, etc.
  • Loss of blood by trauma or injury.
  • The immune disease attacks the immune system, where destroys the healthy blood cells.
  • Poor nutrition or nutritional imbalance.
  • Cancer (Neoplasia).

Causes of Anemia in Dogs

  • Hypothyroidism in dogs.
  • Different types of infectious disease that is canine influenza and canine parvovirus infection. 
  • Ulcers in dogs.
  • The hereditary disease of dogs.
  • Toxins and low phosphorous levels in the blood.
  • Kidney disease in dogs.
  • Exposure to some chemicals and medications that interfere with red blood cell production.
  • A chronic disease that suppresses red blood cell production.
  • Diseases that prevent proper clotting of blood.
  • Hyper Adrenocorticism or Cushing’s disease in dogs.
  • Bone marrow diseases.

Types of Anemia in Dogs


There are few types of anemia in dogs. These are:

  • Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.
  • Non-regenerative or precursor-directed immune-mediated anemia.
  • Pure red cell aplasia.
  • Fragmentation hemolytic anemia.
  • Oxidant-induced hemolytic anemia.
  • Aplastic anemia.
  • Anemias associated with bone marrow diseases.
  • Sickle cell anemia.

Blood Production Site of Blood

  • Iron deficiency anemia.
  • Anemia of inflammatory diseases.
  • Anemia of chronic kidney disease.
  • Anemia of endocrine disease.
  • Anemia of infectious agents.
  • Anemia of inherited defects.
  • The histiocytic disorder may result in extravascular hemolytic anemia. 
  • Vitamin deficient anemia.

Symptoms of Anemia in Dogs


The most common and usual signs and symptoms of anemia in dogs are:

  • Lethargy.
  • Inappetance.
  • Anorexia.
  • Weakness.
  • Exercise intolerance.
  • Dyspnea.
  • Collapse.
  • Mucosal pallor.

Inspection of Mucous Membrane

  • Tachycardia.
  • Accentuated heart sound.
  • Femoral pulse weak and rapid or sharp and bounding.
  • Pyrexia or fever in dogs.
  • Inflammatory or immune-mediated disease.
  • Neoplasia.
  • Bone marrow disease resulting in neutropenia.
  • Immunosuppression.
  • Liver disease or hemolysis.
  • Thrombocytopenia.
  • Platelet defect.
  • Vasculitis.
  • Hepatomegaly.
  • Splenomegaly.
  • Lymphadenopathy.
  • Lymphoma.
  • Immune-mediated polyarthritis.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Abdominal masses or fluid.
  • Rectal examination of the dogs to check for the presence of melaena.
  • Neoplasia or extravascular destruction of red blood cells and platelets.

Diagnosis of Anemia

Diagnosis of Dog Anemia 


Your veterinarian performs the diagnosis, and the diagnosis is based on signs and history and proper laboratory investigation. A logical diagnostic approach to anemia is essential to provide an accurate prognosis and initiate appropriate therapy. The veterinarian follows the main objectives are as follows:

  • Determine whether the anemia is regenerative or non-regenerative based on the reticulocyte count and red cell indices.
  • Identify the pathophysiological mechanism and underlying cause responsible for the anemia.
  • Anemia due to hemorrhage or hemolysis is typically regenerative, hyperproliferative, and maturation defects anemia is non-regenerative.

The diagnostic for the investigation of anemia should include the following rules- complete routine hematological examination including reticulocyte and platelet counts and examination of a blood film for the presence of red cell parasites (Haemobartonella spp, Babesia spp ), a complete biochemical profile, urine analysis, lateral radiographs of the thorax and abdomen to check for the presence of abnormal masses, organomegaly and bleeding into a body cavity. 

What Other Tests Are Important When a Dog is Anemic?


The causes of anemia in dogs can be diagnosed more accurately by the following tests:

  • Abnormalities in iron metabolism. 
  • Abnormalities in blood clotting.
  • Red cell antibodies (direct antiglobulin test).
  • Fecal occult blood.
  • Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy.
  • Biochemical profiles test.
  • Urinalysis.
  • A fecal parasite examinatiion.
  • Radiographs (X-rays) or ultrasonography may be recommended to help determine the cause.

Treatment of Anemia in Dogs

Anemia in Dogs Treatment


If your dog’s anemia is so severe or life-threatening at that time, you should contact your veterinarian. Your vet will examine your dog and recommended performing tests to form a diagnosis. The treatment of anemia in primary supportive, specific therapy should be directed at the underlying disease process. Blood products used in the treatment of anemia include:

  • Fresh whole blood.
  • Stored blood.
  • Packed red blood cells.
  • Fresh frozen plasma.
  • Platelet-rich plasma.
  • Plasma cryoprecipitate.

Whole blood provides plasma which helps restore osmotic pressure and red cells to correct the hypoxemia. The loss of red cells is generally tolerated well than an acute reduction in plasma volume. Signs of hypovolaemic shock do not become evident until a 30-40% loss of blood volume. Acute blood loss associated with a sudden drop in PCV to less than 0.21/l probably warrant the transfusion of whole blood, especially if there is evidence of continued blood loss.

Anemia in Dogs- Weak Dog

Most dogs with chronic, insidious onset anemias are normovolaemic, and there is less of a need for plasma expansion. However, transfusion therapy, preferably with packed red blood cells resuspended in normal saline to reduce the risk of volume overload, may be considered if signs of hypoxemia are present.

Your veterinarian prescribed the iron supplementation only when your dog’s with confirmed deficiency anemia. Iron is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. The vet recommended a single intramuscular injection of iron dextrose followed by ferrous sulfate or ferrous gluconate by mouth.

Prednisolone is indicated to treat immune-mediated hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia, myeloproliferative or lymphoproliferative disease, pure red cell aplastic anemia, and some cases of myelodysplasia. Prednisolone may be used in combination with cytotoxic agents such as azathioprine.

Nandrolone decanoate and other anabolic steroids are indicated for the treatment of primary erythroid hypoplasia, aplastic anemia, certain myeloproliferative disorders, cases of myelodysplasia presenting with severe non-regenerative anemia, and the anemia associated with chronic renal failure. Prolonged treatment is often necessary before a response is observed. Danazol, a synthetic androgen, has been used in your dogs to treat corticosteroid-resistant cases of immune-mediated thrombocytopenia and autoimmune hemolytic anemia.

What is a good source of iron for dogs?


The liver makes a great source of iron choice for helping to restore the iron levels in your dog’s blood, but you do need to start your puppy out on a small amount of liver is very rich and can cause your companion to have diarrhea if you feed too much liver, too soon.

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