Anemia In Dogs

Anemia in dogs is caused due to the destruction of RBC (Red Blood Cells) in tremendous amount and may happen in both cases of internal and external bleeding. It can be compelled by a condition such as immune-mediated disorder and cancer. The signs or symptoms include tiredness, difficulty while exercising, a decrease in appetite, and a pale gum. However, dogs with moderate cases of Anemia may not show these signs. In severe cases, the Anemic may also need a blood transfusion. But in each case, the root problem requires treatment.

If the dog is suffering from Anemia, do not panic

Although mild cases are easily manageable and treatable, severe Anemia can be life-threatening requiring immediate intervention of the Vet. There are several causes of Anemia, such as pure blood loss, to the depletion of RBC inside the body. Treatments vary and depend on the factors or underlying causes.

Signs & Identification of Anemia

RBC carries oxygen and play an essential role in all bodily functions.

  • Lethargy and the inability to exercise
  • Pale mucous membrane and decreased appetite


Only blood testing can help in diagnosing mild Anemia. If the dog seems to suffer from Anemia, the owner should once visit a Vet. The doctor will perform a short test known as Pack Cell Volume or PCV. This test indicates the level of RBCs in the body. If the dog has the red blood cell counts is below the normal range, the condition is diagnosed.

There are blood tests that help with the diagnosis which help to determine whether they are losing or destroying the RBC. It also checks if it's producing enough RBC to compensate for the loss of the dead cells. A notable test known as the Complete Blood Cell Count or CBC is a common test done to diagnose Anemia. This test evaluates the individual components of the blood which is the fundamental 1st step in assessing Anemia.

Instigating processes Or Major Causes

  1. Blood loss because of severe injury can cause severe internal blood loss.
  2. Immune-mediated diseases.
  3. Gastrointestinal tract blood loss due to any infections or inflammation.
  4. Any infectious disease specially contacted by ticks or fleas.
  5. Gastrointestinal bleeding due to a reaction to a particular medication such as non –steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
  6. An interaction with toxins or rat poisons.
  7. Serious diseases such as Cancer which can result in bleeding inside the gastrointestinal tract.
  8. The last and sometimes the most neglected cause can be due to lack of production of the red blood cells as a result of a chronic disease or an interaction with specific medication which can interfere in the normal working of the red blood cells.

Is Anemia Life-Threatening For dogs?

Since some of the causes can be very severe, one will have to deal with Anemia as a serious symptom and contact the Vet for further instructions. The prognosis depends on the cause of the onset. In most cases, Anemia is not Life Threatening.

Do Dogs Get Iron-Deficiency Anemia?

Iron-Deficiency is somewhat uncommon in dogs and can be secondary to some chronic blood loss. It is a possibility in puppies with poor diets or the ones suffering from severe hookworm infections.

Other Specific Causes Of Anemia And Their Diagnosis

  1. Acetaminophen ingestion.
  2. Ibuprofen ingestion.
  3. Benzocaine, a topical anesthetics.
  4. Skunk musk.


The Vet doctor may want to know, if your dog has ingested Ibuprofen or Benzocaine or whether you have applied a topical medication on the dog's skin. Blood tests can also detect the level of Methemoglobins, and if Methemoglobin is chronic, then there can be a revelation of the high level of red blood cells. On the other hand, if Anemia is severe and the cause is the exposure to drugs such as Acetaminophen or ibuprofen, the Vet will for look for presences of an organ injury.

Spot test involves a process where a small drop of the dog’s blood is placed on a white paper, and a drop of regular serum is placed on the other side. If the animal is suffering from Anemia, the blood will become brownish while the normal blood on the other side will keep its bright reddish hue.

Is Anemia Common in Particular Dog Breeds?

Well, there is no list of breeds who are safe from Anemia. The fact is any race is prone to suffer from Anemia. Though some breeds can suffer from a rare form related to specific genetic diseases, especially clotting disorders such as Hemophilia.

Treatments For Anemia

  1. Low to moderate form of Anemia needs no specific treatments.
  2. Caused or induced by drugs, then discontinuation will by far be the best option.
  3. Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen overdose – induce vomiting immediately.
  4. Inherited –remember that the animal will have an average life expectancy and will not need any treatment.
  5. Dog becomes severely Anemic – then immediate blood transfusion will be the best option.
  6. Symptoms like electrolyte imbalance occur from vomiting, kidney damage, or Diarrhea, it needs treatment with IVS.
  7. Severe Anemia happens, Methylene Blue is the medication as injections to decrease the count of Methemoglobin.


As Anemia is rather a symptom by other conditions, it will be best to concentrate on preventing those related conditions. It's crucial to protect the dog from parasites by using preventions, as well as contact the Vet doctor immediately if the owner sees any sign of Anemia. Frequent monitoring of the red blood cells are also very crucial in managing and preventing Anemia.

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