Anemia in Dogs: A Symptom, not a Disease

Anemia in Dogs

Anemia in dogs occurs when your dog's red blood cells are functioning improperly or simply aren't able to oxygenate his cells. Anemia in dogs can have a number of different causes involving blood loss, red blood cell destruction, and inadequate red blood cell production. Injury, cancer, autoimmune disease, infectious disease, iron deficiency, and genetic defects can all be at the root of anemia in dogs. Thankfully, some causes of anemia in dogs can be cured with treatment. The most common symptom of anemia in dogs is pale gums. Anemic dogs may become weak and even collapse from time to time. Anemic dogs experience yellowing of the skin, weight loss, and vomiting. Blood may appear in the urine or feces. Anemic dogs may suffer from a loss of appetite and a distended abdomen. Hemolytic anemia in dogs is an autoimmune disease-related type of anemia. Hemolytic anemia in dogs can be a primary condition or can occur as a result of another condition. Female dogs are at higher risk for developing hemolytic anemia. Some breeds are at higher risk than others for developing Hemolytic anemia. These include many types of spaniels, terriers, poodles and Dachsunds. Hemolytic anemia in dogs is a genetic predisposition. Dogs develop hemolytic anemia when environmental factors trigger their genetic predisposition. Bee venom, infectious agents, and zinc contamination may all be triggers for hemolytic anemia in dogs. Certain cancers and other immune disorders can trigger hemolytic anemia in dogs. Treatment involves use of steroid medications. Most dogs respond well to treatment and can resume normal lifestyles. Anemia is never a disease in itself, but always a symptom of another illness. The diagnosis of the underlying cause of anemia in dogs can be difficult as there could be many possibilities. Your vet will perform blood and urine tests, but may need to conduct a range of tests including ultrasounds, radiographs, and immune tests. Once the diagnosis has been made, follow your vet's instructions carefully at home, while monitoring your dog for a return of symptoms.