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Anemia in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatment

Anemia in dogs needs to be treated by a veterinarian because if left untreated, it can be life threatening. This blood disease has different origins. Certain symptoms should raise a red flag, which is why it is important to know the main signs of canine anemia, which can be regenerative or non-regenerative. Let's take stock.

Anemia: a serious blood disease

Anemia leads to poor oxygenation of tissues, muscles and organs due to a decrease in the number of red blood cells. As a result, the level of hemoglobin, the protein that gives red blood cells their red color and whose role is to bind oxygen, drops.

The two types of anemia in dogs

There are two types of anemia in dogs: regenerative anemia and non-regenerative anemia, the causes of which vary greatly.

Regenerative anemia

It is also called hemolytic anemia. It may be due to heavy bleeding from pathological or accidental causes, which are external causes, or it may be caused by a malformation that reduces the longevity of red blood cells. Regenerative anemia is caused by hemolysis - a term used to describe the destruction of a large number of red blood cells.

The main causes of hemolytic anemia are:
  • Ulcer of the intestine,
  • Hemorrhage,
  • Tumor,
  • Autoimmune disease,
  • Poisoning of the dog by a pesticide or following the ingestion of a toxic food such as onion for example,
  • Prostatitis,
  • A coagulation defect,
  • A parasitosis.

Non-regenerative anemia

This central anemia is caused by an abnormality in the bone marrow that results in insufficient production of red blood cells. As a result, not all red blood cells are replaced at the end of life. Bone marrow dysfunction can be caused by:
  • A bone marrow tumor,
  • Cobalamin (vitamin B12), copper or iron deficiency, usually caused by a poor diet,
  • High levels of estrogen in the blood for a long period of time,
  • Kidney failure,
  • Canine ehrlichiosis,
  • Parvovirus.
In some cases, a vaccine or a drug treatment can be the cause of non-regenerative anemia in dogs.

Anemia in dogs: symptoms

Both forms of canine anemia have similar manifestations. A dog with anemia may have one or more of the following symptoms.
  • A loss of appetite,
  • A loss of weight,
  • A lack of color in the mucous membranes, which may even become white,
  • A great fatigue,
  • Palpitations,
  • Tachycardia,
  • A change in respiratory rate (slowing down or speeding up).
These symptoms are coupled with those due to the cause of the anemia itself. For example, there may be vomiting, diarrhea, or even abundant drooling if the dog has been poisoned. Of course, if there is any doubt, the veterinarian should be consulted immediately.

Dog anemia: treatment

The first step in treating anemia is to treat the problem that caused it. The veterinarian must therefore diagnose the cause of the anemia, regardless of its form. Once an underlying disease has been identified, an appropriate treatment plan is put in place. An antiparasitic treatment is necessary if the anemia is the result of an infestation, a food rebalancing through a reinforced diet is recommended if the anemia is due to a nutritional deficiency, etc. If a tumor is the cause of this blood disease, the tumor must of course be treated.

At the same time, the veterinarian must treat the dog to alleviate the symptoms of the anemia. Of course, the decision is made on a case-by-case basis. A blood transfusion may be necessary to better oxygenate the dog's organs.

In order to save the dog's life, the owner must react as soon as possible when he detects symptoms that make anemia suspicious. It is essential that this blood disease be diagnosed as early as possible. In this way, a quicker recovery of the animal can be hoped for.