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Anemia In Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Anemia In Dogs

What Is Anemia In Dogs?

Anemia is when your dog does not have enough hemoglobin (RBC's) or red blood cells (Hb or Hgb), or occasionally both, circulating in the bloodstream at any given time. Anemic condition indicates that your pet is suffering from an underlying illness or condition or trauma.

Dogs cannot be anemic for anemic reason or no reason. i.e., anemia is not a specific disease but is the result of some disease progression, a symptom. Anemia in dogs is an effect of something not working properly somewhere in their body.

Anemia indicates that you dog require the care and attention of a qualified vet. Several conditions, from diseases, autoimmune disorders or injury to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, poisoning etc., are potential causes.

Contact your veterinarian immediately for help to provide treatment, before the condition becomes more severe. The proper identification of the cause and proper treatment of the condition determines prognosis.

What Are Symptoms Of Anemia In Dogs?

Anemia is more complicated than it seems - although it can be one of many symptoms that surface out caused by an underlying condition, there is also a possibility that it may be the only symptom manifested.

In any case, you should be careful with these symptoms of anemia in your dog:

  • Loss of the normal pink color of the gingiva (whitish or pale pink)
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Black or “tarry” stools, or dark blood in feces or urine (hematuria) or vomit
  • Bruises, or worse bruises, than usual on the skin (purpura)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Labored breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Swelling of the face or jaw

How Is Anemia In Dogs Treated?

Your vet may recommend diagnostic tests depending on your dog’s health, current symptoms and medical history.

Depending on the underlying cause, vets may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:

  • Antibiotics
  • Gastrointestinal medication
  • Deworming or parasite medications
  • Bone marrow transfusion
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Blood transfusion
  • Immunosuppressive drugs
  • Potassium phosphate supplements
  • Surgery

Home Remedies For Anemia In Dogs

When your dog is recovering from anemia or when you want to prevent it, then home remedies can serve best.

When your dog is fighting hemolytic anemia or if he is having acute blood loss, do not try to use any home remedies. Bad timing.

Alright; when to use it then? When he is recuperating after treatment or for any means of prevention.

The home remedies for anemia in dogs start with providing their body with enough nutrients to facilitate the synthesis of iron in the body.

Undoubtedly, we will have to incorporate nutrient-rich foods rich into his diet.

Ask your veterinarian for advice about a special diet for your dog.

How To Prevent Anemia In Dogs?

  • While certain causes of anemia is not always preventable, but there are some measures that pet parents can take to reduce the risk of their dog becoming anemic from preventable causes.
  • These include accident, trauma prevention and flea and tick management.
  • Keeping toxins like rat poison away from the reach of dogs.
  • Human medications (like acetaminophen and ibuprofen) away from your dog.
  • Keeping allergic foods like away from your dog (such as onion, garlic, wheat, soy).
  • Always feed your dog a complete, balanced food and high-quality food that's certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
  • Keeping up with vet visits at least once a year.
  • Get your dog's stool testedonce in a while to check for parasites and check with your vet for a broad-spectrum dewormer.

Dog Breeds Affected By Anemia

There is no breed disposition. However, most reported in below mentioned breeds.

Irish Setter, Poodle, English Springer, Cocker Spaniel, Collie, Doberman Pinscher, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd

Causes And Types Of Anemia In Dogs

  1. Anemia is classified as regenerative or non-regenerative.
    • Regenerative anemia: When the bone marrow acts appropriately to the decreased number of red blood cells by stepping up new blood cell production. The count of immature anucleate red blood cells (reticulocytes) in peripheral blood is the assessment of regenerative anemia.
    • Regenerative anemia is of 2 types
    • Blood Loss Anemia - This form of anemia is caused by severe loss of blood by surgery, injury, or a bleeding disorder. Internal bleeding due to cancer, ulcers, or parasites also can be the reason for this anemia.
    • Hemolytic Anemia
    • This happens when the destruction or breakdown of red blood cells is faster than their production. Often the result of autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) or immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) or non-immune mediated caused by toxins, low phosphorous levels, or hereditary diseases.
  2. Aplastic or nonregenerative anemia: This is due to the inadequate response of bone marrow to the increased requirement for red blood cells. This is caused by bone marrow diseases, chronic disease, kidney disease, or nutritional deficiencies.
  3. Methemoglobinemia: Methemoglobinemiahappens when there are increased quantities of hemoglobin in the form of Methemoglobin (RBCs containing methemoglobin at levels higher than 1%). Methemoglobin is a form of oxidized Hemoglobin and it’s the result of iron oxygenation. This type of anemia is caused by exposure to chemicals or genetic disorders.
  4. Causes of anemia include
    • Influenza, Canine parvovirus, and other infectious diseases
    • Immune-mediated diseases, in which the immune system attacks healthy blood cells
    • Cancer
    • Poor nutrition
    • Reactions to medications such as NSAIDs
    • Parasite infestations - (ticks, fleas, hookworms)
    • Infections such as Bacterial infections, infectious diseases such as Babesiosis, and Infections including canine distemper
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Cushing's disease.
    • Exposure to toxins or inhalation of chemicals and poisons
    • Chronic diseases suppress red blood cell production

When To See A Vet For Anemia In Dogs?

Anaemic dogs’ prognosis depends upon on the specific diagnosis and the dog's health condition at the time of diagnosis. If the anemia is diagnosed early and the dog is in relatively good health, an appropriate treatment for the primary illness will result in good prognosis.

Sadly, certain anemia causes that indicate your dog is suffering from a very serious or life-threatening condition (such as cancer, toxins, autoimmune conditions or severe trauma) have a less favorable prognosis.

Diet And Food Suggestions For Anemia In Dogs

  1. Dog food high in iron:
  2. 1 mg of iron / every 12 grams of the food.
    • Lamb meat
    • Cooked liver: 2 ounces for a smaller dog, 4 ounces for a large dog
    • Lean meats like lamb, ground beef
    • Salmon, Tuna, Sardine
    • Anchovies
    • Beef balls/beef stew
  3. Vitamin C: 500 to 2,000 milligrams (Vit C helps the body absorb iron from the intestinal tract) per day.
  4. Vitamin B: Rice flour, Oats, Sweet potatoes, Banana, Watermelon, Lamb brain, Mackerel, etc.
  5. Foods with Vitamin B9: Egg yolks, Carrots, whole wheat, pumpkin, and rye.
  6. Green vegetables and leafy produce: Beets, Carrots, Kale, Seaweed, Spinach.
  7. Grains: Oatmeal, Barley, Brown rice.

Sample recipe for an anemic dog

  • 3 or 4 eggs
  • 300 grams salmon
  • 200 grams rice
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 red bell pepper
  1. Add rice to a pot of boiled water kept over the hob, if needed add drops of olive oil.
  2. This will take roughly 25-30 minutes to cook.
  3. In the meantime, cut the other ingredients into pieces based on the size of your dog, the smaller, the better.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, in the last 10 minutes.
  5. When you have finished cooking, remove the pot and leave them to cool down to room temperature.
  6. Serve the appropriate amount depending on the size of your dog.


Thankfully, in many cases prognosis can be favorable, if the original cause of the dog's anemia can be treated promptly and the dog is in otherwise good health.

If the anemia is severe, or the anemia is due to life-threatening conditions like cancer, and if the dog is already unhealthy, the prognosis is less favorable.

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