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.
How to treat anemia in dogs?
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 indicates 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 happen:
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 hemoglobin in the blood will cause your puppy to experience the symptoms typically associated with reduced oxygen.
Regenerative Anemia in Dogs
This happens when the bone marrow knows the body needs more blood cells and makes them… but they are either too immature to do any good or can’t 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, similar hormone problem, or bone marrow deformities. The bone marrow knows the body needs more blood cells but can’t hear (or ignore) the message.
What Causes Anemia in Dogs?
A vast 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.
What Are the Signs of Anemia in Dogs?
Below is a list of symptoms commonly associated with anemia in dogs. It must be noted, however, that not all dogs will present with all signs, 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 – usually one of the first apparent 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 Petlifedays interactive pet camera. You can keep an eye on your home when you’re not there, and you’ll also be able to see what your pets are getting up to.
How is Anemia in Dogs Diagnosed?
Anemia is something that needs to be treated by a professional. It is not something you can quickly treat at home. To get your puppy treated, however, you must first diagnose their conditionAnemia can be interpreted 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 pretty 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 identify it positively.
In some cases, such as blood loss caused by trauma, the root cause of the anemia will be apparent, but this isn’t always the case. It can sometimes take extensive diagnostic testing to diagnose the anemia and the condition causing it.
How to Treat Anemia in Dogs at Home
You will likely not be able 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.
Suppose a severe underlying medical condition, such as cancer, is causing your dog’s anemia. In that case, you risk your pet dying by choosing 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 supplement their diet with too much of something. And you know what they say: too much of something is just as bad as none!
Commercial dog food contains all the nutrients dogs need to be fit and healthy. Unless you feed 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 blood volume back to normal, determine the underlying cause (if it’s not apparent), 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 lead a happy, healthy, and everyday life. However, if you ignore the symptoms, anemia could develop into something more severe.
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 occasionally do), Petlifedays’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 dog food, although too much can cause stomach upsets. The fare doesn’t contain much iron but has fiber alongside vitamins C and B, which help with iron absorption.
What can I feed a dog with anemia?
Suppose your vet has recommended an iron-rich diet to help treat anemia. In that case, you should incorporate 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 can 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 canine anemia. If you suspect your pet is experiencing anemia symptoms, seek medical advice immediately.