Types, Causes & Symptoms of Anemia in Dogs

Anemia in dogs is a serious condition that can be caused by a number of underlying health issues. Here our Mooresville vets explain the different types of anemia seen in dogs, as well as their symptoms of anemia and how it can be treated.

Anemia in Dogs

In dogs, anemia is a condition which indicates that your pet is suffering from an underlying disease or illness. Anemia occurs when your pet's body isn't producing enough red blood cells or hemoglobin, or when your dog suffers severe blood loss due to conditions such as cancer, or stomach ulcers, or if your dog has experienced trauma such as a serious accident or injury.

Types of Anemia Seen in Dogs

Blood Loss Anemia

Blood loss anemia occurs when your dog has experienced severe loss of blood due to an injury, surgery, or a bleeding disorder. This form of anemia could also be caused by internal bleeding due to cancer, ulcers, parasites, or other health conditions.

Hemolytic Anemia

Hemolytic anemia is caused by the destruction or breakdown of red blood cells in your dog's body. This form of anemia is often the result of immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) or autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), or non-immune mediated caused by hereditary disease, parasites, toxins, or low phosphorous levels.

Aplastic or Non-Regenerative Anemia

Aplastic or non-regenerative anemia develops in dogs due to insufficient production of red blood cells. This form of anemia can occur due to toxin exposure, bone marrow disease, kidney disease, certain medications, chemotherapy drugs, or parvovirus.

Methemoglobinemia

Methemoglobinemia in dogs is caused by too much methemoglobin in the blood due to certain genetic disorders, or exposure to toxins including a number of different medications meant for human use only such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or benzocaine.

Signs That Your Dog May Be Anemic

If your pooch is suffering from anemia you may notice one or more of the following symptoms. Your dog's anemia symptoms will vary based upon the underlying cause of your pup's condition.

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of the face or jaw
  • Black stools
  • Weight loss
  • Fast pulse or rapid breathing
  • Pale gums, ears, or eyes
  • Lethargy or weakness

Causes of Anemia in Dogs

There are a number of conditions that can result in your pup developing anemia. Some of the most common causes of anemia in dogs include:

  • Medications that interfere with red blood cell production
  • Blood loss caused by parasites 
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Infectious diseases including canine distemper
  • Severe blood loss as a result of accident or injury
  • Toxins or poisons
  • Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease
  • Poor nutrition
  • Bone marrow disease
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Chronic diseases that suppress red blood cell production

Treatment for Dogs with Anemia

If your pup is diagnosed with anemia, the treatment that your vet recommends will be based upon the underlying cause of the condition. Some of the treatments that your vet may recommend include:

  • Surgery
  • Blood transfusion
  • Bone marrow transfusion
  • Chemotherapy
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Change of existing medications
  • Antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs
  • Potassium phosphate supplements
  • Gastrointestinal medication
  • Parasite or de-worming medications

The prognosis for dogs with anemia depends upon the availability of effective treatment for the underlying illness. Sadly, anemia can indicate that your dog is suffering from a very serious or possibly fatal condition such as poisoning, cancer or an autoimmune condition. If your pooch is showing any signs of anemia contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to book an examination.

Preventing Anemia in Dogs

Preventing anemia in your dog comes down to preventing the conditions that cause anemia (whenever possible). Year-round parasite prevention medications to protect your dog against ticks, fleas, and worms is one way to help your dog avoid developing anemia.

Keeping toxic substances such as human medications and foods far out of your dog's reach as well as providing your dog with a healthy diet, may also help to prevent your dog from developing anemia.

If your canine companion is a breed that is susceptible to developing anemia (Shih Tzus, Labrador Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers, and American Cocker Spaniels) regular wellness examinations twice yearly at your primary care veterinarian may help to detect the signs of anemia early, and provide treatment before the condition becomes more severe.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog displaying the symptoms of anemia? Contact our Mooresville vets today to book an examination for your dog.

Types of anemia in dogs and their symptoms, Mooresville Vet

Looking for a vet in Mooresville?

We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.


Contact Us

Related Articles View All

Causes & Symptoms of High Fever in Dogs

It can be difficult to know for sure if your dog has a fever. In today's blog, our Mooresville vets explain how to detect a fever in dogs, as well as symptoms of fever in dogs, causes and what you should do if your pooch has a fever.

Yeast Infection in Dog's Ear

Yeast ear infections can be a real problem for dogs - especially in the hot and humid summer months. Our Moorseville vets explain the basics about yeast ear infections in dogs including the causes, symptoms and how this issue can be treated and prevented.

Is your dog anxious or depressed?

Just like people, dogs can experience anxiety and depression from time to time. If you think that your pup is feeling anxious or blue you may be able to help your pooch feel better with these easy tips from our Mooresville vets.

Looking for a vet in Mooresville?

We'd love to welcome you and your pet into our veterinary family! Contact Lake Norman Animal Hospital today.

Get Started

(704) 664-7387