Understanding Anemia in Dogs

Anemia is a common condition in dogs that can be caused by a vast array of health problems. As such, if you have a dog, it is essential for you to be aware of the symptoms of anemia and the various health issues that can cause the condition. When caught early, many of these health issues can be easily treated.

Understanding Anemia in Dogs

Symptoms of Anemia in Dogs

Methemoglobin is a substance that is found in the body and is normally converted to hemoglobin, which is essential for carrying oxygen from the lungs to other parts of your dog’s body. However, if there is too much methemoglobin, inadequate oxygenation (anemia) is the result. When this occurs, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms in your pet.

Common Causes of Anemia in Dogs

As stated above, there are many underlying conditions that can cause anemia in dogs. However, there are some issues that occur more frequently than others. You will find these conditions and brief descriptions of each listed below. Of course, if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, you should take your dog to a vet right away:

  • Internal and External Parasites
    There is a vast array of internal and external parasites that feed off of your dog’s blood and can cause anemia. While each parasite only eats a small amount of blood, when there is a heavy infestation of them, the problem can become extremely serious and even fatal. Common parasites include fleas, ticks, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms.
  • Infectious Diseases
    There are also many different types of infectious diseases that can cause mild to severe anemia in your dog. Typically, these types of conditions are highly contagious and can be fatal if not treated promptly. Fortunately, most of them can be prevented with regular vaccinations. Some of the most common of these diseases include parvovirus, distemper, influenza, coronavirus, leptospirosis and lyme disease.
  • Cancer in Dogs
    Various types of cancer can trigger autoimmune disease in dogs, which most often results in moderate to severe anemia. This occurs when the body’s immune system malfunctions and begins to attack healthy cells and tissue. While there are many forms of cancer that can result in anemia, the most common types are leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and hemagiosarcoma.

How to Treat Anemia in Dogs?

The treatments your dog will need if it is anemic will vary depending on its condition. However, some of the most typical treatment methods for anemia include IV administration, methylene blue administration and/or a blood transfusion. If your pet’s anemia is due to poisoning or a drug overdose, your vet may induce vomiting.

Of course, treatment for the underlying cause of your dog’s anemia will be necessary as well. Depending on the underlying cause, this could include various types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, antiparasitic medications, flea treatments, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery.

The above health conditions are just a few of the main causes of anemia in dogs. There are many other issues that can cause anemia including drug overdoses, insect stings, adverse reactions to vaccinations, trauma, stomach or intestinal ulcers, and exposure to toxic chemicals such as rat poison or antifreeze. Nevertheless, if you notice the above symptoms and seek veterinary attention right away, your dog’s prognosis will be good.

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