While you may think that anemia is an illness seen in dogs and people, it's actually a symptom of various underlying health conditions. Here, our Rainbow City vets explain types of anemia in dogs, diet options, treatments and more.
Anemia in Dogs
Anemia in dogs is a condition that is typically viewed as a symptom of an underlying disease, illness or trauma. Anemia occurs when either your pet's body doesn't produce enough red blood cells or hemoglobin, or if your dog suffers severe blood loss due to a medical condition such as cancer, or due to trauma such as a serious accident or injury.
Types of Anemia in Dogs
These are common types of anemia in dogs:
- Blood loss anemia
- Hemolytic anemia
- Aplastic or non-regenerative anemia
Anemia in Dogs - Symptoms
Based on the underlying cause, signs of anemia in dogs vary. If your dog is suffering from anemia their symptoms may 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
Anemia in Dogs - Treatment
An online search for “treatments for anemia in dogs” will reveal a fair amount of advice and opinions on how to treat the condition. Make sure to check any advice with your veterinarian, and ask any questions you may have about recommended treatments or medications.
Depending on your dog’s history and current symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests, which may range from a complete blood count to identify how anemic your pup is and evaluate red blood cell characteristics, and chemistry tests to evaluate sugar levels and organ function to specialized tests that may help identify an underlying infectious disease. They may also test for iron in the blood since an iron deficiency can lead to anemia.
If your dog is diagnosed with anemia, their prognosis will depend on the cause and whether the underlying cause of the anemia can be treated. Once the cause of your dog’s anemia has been established by diagnostic testing completed by your vet, a course of treatment can be recommended.
The treatment that your vet recommends for your dog will be based upon the underlying cause of the condition. Some of the treatments that your vet may recommend include:
- If your pet is diagnosed with anemia,
- Blood transfusion
- Bone marrow transfusion
- Parasite or deworming medications
- Change of existing medications
- Antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs
- Potassium phosphate supplements
- Gastrointestinal medication
The Prognosis for Dogs with Anemia
The prognosis for dogs with anemia depends upon whether there is an effective treatment for the underlying illness.
Sadly, anemia can indicate that your dog is suffering from a very serious or life-threatening condition such as cancer, autoimmune conditions or poisoning. Which is why pet parents should always take the symptoms of anemia seriously. If your dog is showing any of the signs of anemia listed above, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to schedule an examination.
Good Sources of Iron for Dogs
Adding fresh foods with iron in them to your dog’s diet can help boost this important mineral. To start, you can feed your dog canned sardines along with their regular food, raw egg yolk (from organic or local eggs), green vegetables, and beef liver.
Vitamin C for Anemia in Dogs
Many pet parents wonder if vitamin c is good for anemia in dogs. Vitamin C can help your dog’s body absorb iron from the intestinal tract. Depending on your dog’s size, 500 to 2,000 milligrams of the vitamin per day may be necessary.
Do not start your dog on a new diet, medication or other treatment without discussing this with your vet. Since liver is a rich food, ask your vet how much your dog should have so as not to cause a case of diarrhea.
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.