Anemia in dogs may be caused by an underlying condition or it can be the result of a primary condition.
If it is the result of an underlying condition, it may or may not be a serious threat depending on the severity of the anemia.
However, if it is the result of primary anemia, it has just become a very dangerous situation for your dog.
If this condition is advanced enough, your pet may only have about a 50% chance of surviving it.
Contrary to a popular belief, long term chronic anemia is not nearly as dangerous to your dog as a very sudden onset of it.
Dogs with a long term form of this condition have adapted over time and have learned to live with it.
Conversely, a very sudden impact of it can catch your pet’s immune system totally off guard and become extremely dangerous, as it can completely backfire on this very detailed system.
Anemia in dogs is a situation where your dog has a low red blood cell count that can be caused by several factors.
These include a very sudden and dangerous blood loss, a very slow or very rapid destruction of red blood cells, or insufficient or low quality red blood cell production.
There are similarities in anemia in dogs and people in that there is a commonality in a decreased number of red blood cells.
However, there is something that is entirely different. In people, most all cases of anemia are caused by a nutritional deficiency of Iron, Vitamin B12, or Folic Acid.
In dogs, a deficiency of nutrients may be the cause, but it is extremely rare. The cause in dogs is almost always an underlying illness or a parasite infection.
In most all cases your dog’s red blood cells are decreasing much faster than their system can adequately replace them.
Red blood cells in your pet comes from bone marrow, and as a result, the first underlying conditions that your veterinarian will check will be for leukemia and bone marrow cancer.
However it may also be a drug that has recently been administered that is having a very toxic effect on your dog.
There are several symptoms that will show you that your pet may be developing anemia in dogs.
In fact there are symptoms that will indicate that your dog has had a very sudden attack of this potentially life threatening condition.
Mild symptoms of anemia in dogs will be a general overall weakness that may be followed by a decreased appetite, episodes of vomiting, and then a weight loss.
If these symptoms persist, check your dog’s gums; if they are pale in color, this condition is getting serious.
Also check their abdomen for any signs of a distention, as this will signal you that there is something wrong internally.
Next check their skin very closely to look for any signs of a yellowish tint indicating a liver problem.
As the anemia in your dog continues to grow, you may see blood in their urine or feces, as well as signs of blood loss on their body.
The most chilling and advanced symptom will be the sudden collapse of your dog.
The most common causes of anemia in dogs will be from the loss of blood.
This can be the result of an injury or a traumatic event, but in most cases it will be caused by bleeding in your pet’s intestinal tract.
This can be the result of flea or tick infestation; however, the most common causes are hookworms and heart worms.
Hookworms are one of the most common intestinal problems found in dogs and can be found anywhere in the Northern hemisphere.
They can affect all ages and breeds of dogs, but they are especially dangerous to puppies and younger dogs.
Hookworms have teeth like structures that literally attach themselves to your pet’s intentional wall and feed on their blood.
Heart worms are carried by mosquitoes and enter into your dog’s skin when they are bitten, and then they grow and eventually migrate to your dog’s heart.
They can grow as large as 18 inches and can cause tremendous damage to their heart as well as their intestinal tract.
They obstruct the various blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs.
For this reason they are especially dangerous as they cause both a loss of blood as well as damage to the heart.
Bleeding in the abdomen may also be the cause of anemia in dogs and this is especially dangerous as it may not be seen until it is too late.
The reason for this is very simple; it is the result of damage to the liver or the spleen from a tumor that is attacking your pet.
The final form of bleeding in the abdomen will be from rat poison. Although this a lot more common in cats, it is also quite common in dogs simply because they will eat anything.
Rat poison does exactly what it is designed to do; it damages the small blood vessels and red blood cells in the kidneys, liver and the lungs, and it is extremely dangerous to dogs as well.
Leukemia and cancer are the first conditions checked for with this condition, as they both will rapidly destroy your dogs red blood cells in a condition known as immune-mediated disease.
It is also commonly referred to as Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia and is especially dangerous as it virtually attacks itself.
Your dog’s immune system is specifically designed to attack and kill germs.
However with this condition something backfires in their system and it attacks your dog’s own red blood cells and destroys them.
This attack begins when antibodies made by your pets immune system, for whatever reason, identifies red blood cells as an enemy invasion.
Red blood cells supply the oxygen in the blood and the tissues of your dog and when they are attacked, the oxygen supply basically shuts down.
Once this occurs it places your dog in a life threatening situation.
What is especially challenging about anemia in dogs is that there is currently no known reason or cause why this happens.
Because the cause is unknown, there is no treatment for stopping it other than a blood transfusion.
Anemia in dogs has several potential causes and the treatments will have to be based off of the actual cause.
The most common preventive measures will be in adequately protecting your dog against fleas, mosquitoes, and worms.
If fully protected, this drastically reduces the chances of being the victim of anemia.
If the anemia is minimal, it can effectively be treated and your pet can live a very normal life.
If it is severe and the result of Immune mediated hemolytic anemia, your dog will require a blood transfusion and only 50% of dogs survive this form of treatment.