Signs that Indicate Anemia in Dogs and Options to Treat It

Just like in humans, anemia in dogs is no laughing matter. Varying from simple blood loss to something more severe like the massive and consistent destruction of red blood cells, anemia is a condition to be feared. There are several causes of anemia in canines including, but not limited to, trauma that causes severe blood loss and gastrointestinal bleeding. These are related to parasites like hookworms and fleas, tumors, cancer and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. If your dog has a severe flea problem, it may lead to chronic blood loss, especially in young adult dogs and puppies. Depending on how severe the problem is and the elemental causes, treatment will vary significantly.

What Is Anemia?

Anemia is by far the most common blood disorder known to man and beast. It is classified as the decrease in the number of red blood cells, or the significant lessened quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. A canine can also be classified as having anemia when the ability of each hemoglobin to bind with oxygen is lower than usual. As red blood cells are responsible for the constant delivery of oxygen to the rest of the body, a problem with these cells is dangerous and very detrimental to your dog’s system. There are several types of anemia, and they are classified based on the underlying causes. Whether the cause is internal or external bleeding, a disease like immune-mediated disorder, or even cancer, anemia can be life threatening and your dog has to receive immediate attention from a vet.

What Are the Signs Your Dog Has Anemia?

If your dog has anemia, you will be able to tell that something is wrong. You may not be able to confidently blame your dog’s obvious illness on anemia, as this disease exhibits multiple symptoms that can be associated with other conditions. Hence, it is advisable that the moment you notice behavior and signs from your pet that are out of the ordinary, seek medical attention and advice from a vet. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the better the prognosis will be. Some forms of anemia can be easily cured or even reversed, but like most other illnesses, the key to it all is catching it early. Here are some symptoms of anemia that you can look out for at home.

1. Pale Gums

A telltale sign that your dog has a blood disease is pale gums. You will notice a loss of gum color from pink to white or very pale pink. Lift your dog’s upper lip and do a capillary refill test. Use your finger to press the gums and notice the change of color. A healthy dog’s gums should briefly turn white, then return to a healthy pink within a couple of seconds. On the other hand, anemic and sick dogs will not see a change of gum color, rather they will remain pale.

2. Lethargy

Another way to tell your dog is suffering from anemia is fatigue. Your pet will have diminished stamina and energy. Although tiredness is also an indication of old age, it is still something to worry about, especially if your dog is in the prime of its life. It will also seem listless and depressed.

3. Dark Colored Urine

This is typically seen in dogs who suffer from Hemolytic anemia, a rapid breakdown of red blood cells. They will have jaundice and dark brown urine, so keep a lookout for this when your dog goes to potty.

How to Treat Anemia in Dogs

Treating your dog at home is not something you should attempt. Leave it to the experts to take care of this problem. Depending on the type of anemia your canine is suffering from, as well as the underlying causes, here are some courses of treatment your vet may recommend.

1. Blood Transfusion

This is usually recommended for dogs that have experienced severe blood loss due to trauma. A blood transfusion will probably be necessary for it to survive. This transfusion is important to help deliver oxygen to your dog’s vital organs. Until your pet is strong enough to produce healthy red blood cells on its own, your vet may recommend multiple blood transfusions.

2. Medication

Like most other illnesses, medication will probably be required to treat your pet. Your vet will prescribe a treatment plan based on the type of anemia your dog has. Sometimes doses of vitamins will also be included in the medication cycle to give your dog a boost of energy.

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