Dog anemia can be a rather serious condition that may be caused by a variety of factors and diseases. An anemic dog will need veterinary care and special attention not only in terms of administering the absolute best treatment but also to determine the root of the problem before proceeding.
What Causes Dog Anemia?
A dog that is anemic is using their blood’s supply of red blood cells faster than the body is able to compensate.
Iron deficiency, a common cause of anemia in humans, is actually rather rare in dogs and usually only seen in young puppies with poor diets or who are infected with hookworms. An iron deficiency in dogs is most always secondary due to some form or reason that is causing blood loss.
Blood loss due to injury or trauma or because of parasites such as Dog Worms or Dog Fleas and ticks may cause anemia as well as diseases that prevent the blood from clotting normally. Conditions that cause a breakdown of red blood cells including Dog Cancer, autoimmune diseases, and an underactive thyroid gland may also cause anemia in dogs.
Common Symptoms of Anemia in Dogs
The most common sign or symptom of dog anemia is a discoloration of the gums or gingivae. An anemic dog will have lost the normal pink coloration of the gums and they will instead appear much paler in color.
An anemic dog will also have very little energy and will show signs of Dog Lethargy or fatigue another telltale sign of the condition. And, dogs with anemia also often experience a Dog Loss of Appetite even for their usual food or treats.
How is Anemia Diagnosed in Dogs?
An accurate diagnosis by a veterinarian is imperative when dealing with suspected anemia and several tests may be needed before discovering what is causing canine anemia.
Some tests include the PCV, also called the packed cell volume or hematocrit test, which involves taking a blood sample and spinning it in a centrifuge in order to separate the plasma or liquid portion of the blood from the red blood cells.
The percentage of red blood cells in a dog’s blood should be anywhere between 35 and 55 and a hematocrit count of under 35 indicates canine anemia.
Another test to determine if anemia is present in dogs includes a hemoglobin count and once testing is complete the cause of the anemia must be determined in order to proceed with treatment. More blood samples may be needed to check for the presence of immature red blood cells, which may indicate a problem with bone marrow making a biopsy of the marrow necessary.
Other tests may still be needed to look for parasites that could be destroying the dog’s supply of red blood cells such as a fecal sample test or perhaps a urinalysis for the purpose of evaluating organ function.
A serious or life threatening case of dog anemia will require an immediate blood transfusion to stabilize the dog’s health although most cases will not need such drastic treatment. Some dogs may be treated successfully for anemia with prednisone which slows down the usage or attack of red blood cells but unfortunately, one third of all dogs don’t respond to any type of treatment.