Diagnosing Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs

Hemolytic anemia in dogs is an autoimmune disorder also known as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. Although the disease may develop due to accompanying immune disorders, it often occurs due to reactions to certain medications or vaccines. The red blood cells are attacked by the dog's immune system due to the presence of certain antibodies in the blood. New red blood cells that are manufactured are also attacked by the immune system. This often lowers the dog's blood platelet count and in turn impairs normal blood clotting capability. Most dogs suffering from low blood cell count exhibit symptoms of anemia. Pet owners should notice changes in appearance or unusual symptoms and seek medical help.

Symptoms of Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs Include:

  • Paleness of the eyes and gums
  • Change in the color of urine
  • Tiredness
  • Fainting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nasal bleeding

Diagnosis of Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs

The vet will evaluate the dog's medical history, vaccines recently administered and clinical symptoms present. A complete physical examination will help the vet detect change of color in the eyes and gums. In addition, the vet will palpate the dog's abdomen to determine internal swelling or fluid accumulation. Urine tests will detect the presence of bacterial infection, impaired kidney function and change in color of the urine. In order to confirm hemolytic anemia in dogs, the vet will perform a complete blood test, Coomb's test and tests to measure the amount of red blood cells present.

Other Diagnostic Tests Include:

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • Serum Biochemical Profile
  • MRI

Treatment of Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs

The treatment varies according to the severity of hemolytic anemia present and other underlying health concerns. Dogs severely ill due to low platelet counts require blood transfusions and supportive care to prevent death. The vet will also prescribe corticosteroid medication to lower red blood cell destruction. The dosage and duration of treatment is determined after the dog's initial response to medication. Pets suffering from hemolytic anemia also require home care and attention to boost the immune system and increase the pet's quality of life.

Risk Associated with Hemolytic Anemia

Dogs with anemia suffer from rapid heartbeat, due to the increased pressure on the heart to supply blood throughout the body. In addition, they're at risk of high blood loss during accidents or injury. Since hemolytic anemia is an autoimmune disease, the treatment aims to reduce the autoimmune response and lower the amounts of autoimmune antibodies present in the blood.

Home Care

Pet owners should administer prescribed medication on time and avoid discontinuation of corticosteroid medication unless otherwise directed by the vet. Some pets may require prolonged corticosteroid drugs, prescribed in low potencies. Dietary modification and stress reduction also helps pets develop stronger immune systems. Preventive techniques should be followed to avoid further stress on the dog's body. Although pets treated with prompt medication and corticosteroid therapy respond favorably, some may succumb to the disease due to underlying health concerns.

The vet may prescribe certain supplements to boost the immune system. It's important to keep pets in a toxic free environment to prevent further complications.