A Summary of Anemia Diagnosis and Treatment Choices for Dog Owners

Image Credit:Fernando Lecaros

When there are fewer red blood cells or a lower-than-normal amount of hemoglobin in the blood, a dog is said to be anemic.

Because they transport oxygen from the lungs to tissues all over the body, red blood cells are crucial. The protein that binds to oxygen in red blood cells is called hemoglobin.

The blood’s capacity to deliver oxygen is decreased in dogs who have anemia. The following are some of the main signs of anemia in puppies:

• Weakness and lethargy – Puppies with anemia frequently appear exhausted, lack energy, and be less active than usual. They could snooze more.

• Pale mucous membranes – The inner eyelids, nose, and gums will all appear pale pink or white.

as opposed to their typical red appearance as a result of low hemoglobin levels.

• Rapid breathing and heartbeat – Puppies raise their heart rates and breathe more quickly to make up for low blood oxygen levels.

• Poor appetite – Lack of energy may cause anemic puppies to eat less. Some people won’t manifest this symptom, though.

• Weight loss – Untreated anemia can cause weight loss in growing puppies because the tissues are not receiving appropriate nutrients.

• Slowed growth – Because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients, anemic puppies frequently experience slowed growth and development. Still, they are smaller.

Anemia can cause puppies to seem colder than usual to the touch because red blood cells transport heat throughout the body.

• Bleeding tendencies – Puppies with anemia from blood loss conditions tend to bleed more easily from minor wounds. Clotting is impaired.

• Increased susceptibility to infection – Without enough red blood cells, anemic puppies have weaker immune defenses and are at higher risk for infections.

• Exercise intolerance – Severely anemic puppies may tire quickly during physical activity due to inadequate oxygen supply.

These symptoms are caused by an inadequate number of red blood cells and reduced hemoglobin levels that impair the body’s ability to provide oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from tissues. The more severe the anemia, the more noticeable and numerous the signs tend to be in puppies.

Image Credit:Derek Marshall

Telltale symptoms like pale gums, rapid breathing and stunted growth should raise suspicion for anemia, prompting a visit to the vet for diagnostic testing and treatment. The earlier anemia is identified and addressed, the better the outcomes typically are for puppies.

 Changes to diet or medications that cause anemia

Many times, addressing the underlying issue that is causing the anemia will help the red blood cell count gradually increase. The severity of an anemia diagnosis reveals the urgency of the necessity for treatment.

In conclusion, anemia in dogs basically refers to a low red blood cell count that might have a variety of possible causes and call for various treatment modalities. But to alleviate symptoms and enhance your dog’s quality of life, the objective is always to restore an adequate flow of oxygen to tissues throughout the body.


Depending on the underlying reason, there are various treatments for canine anemia:

Blood transfusions can swiftly replace lost red blood cells and increase hemoglobin levels in cases of severe anemia or anemia brought on by blood loss. Blood from the donor must match the blood type of the dog.

Medication – Depending on the cause of anemia, different medications may be used to treat it:

• Iron supplements – To replenish iron stores in patients with iron deficiency anemia, oral or injectable iron is given.

Folate and vitamin B12 supplements can help cure megaloblastic anemia, a condition brought on by dietary deficiency.

Antibiotics: These drugs are used to treat anemia brought on by inflammation and infection, such as chronic kidney disease.

• Steroids – These drugs can be used to prevent the immune system from attacking red blood cells in patients with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.

• Synthetic erythropoietin – This hormone encourages the bone marrow to make more red blood cells.

Surgery – By surgically removing the tumor or other source of anemia, the dog’s bone marrow may be able to heal and create more red blood cells.

Transfusions plus medication – Frequently, the most effective course of action entails administering a blood transfusion right away to alleviate symptoms, then taking medications over time to address the underlying illness.

Diet Change – In some circumstances, such as anemia brought on by chronic renal illness, changing the dog’s diet and boosting nutrient intake can aid in promoting the creation of red blood cells.

Monitoring – In cases of mild anemia with unknown causes, vets may only keep track of the dog’s hemoglobin and red blood cell counts over time. Treatment would begin in the event that symptoms grew worse or were severe.

Symptoms of low oxygen levels in tissues are relieved, hemoglobin levels are quickly brought into acceptable ranges, the loss of red blood cells is slowed or stopped, and, if feasible, the underlying problem that is causing the anemia is treated.

Veterinarians can successfully treat your dog’s anemia by using a tailored, multifaceted strategy that may include transfusions, drugs, surgery, and dietary adjustments. Finding the combination of medicines that is most effective for your pet’s particular situation is the key before starting treatment.


An order to prevent canine anemia, try the following:

You can take the following preventative measures to lessen your dog’s risk of acquiring anemia:

• Administer preventive medication:

The prevention of heartworm and flea/tick infections should be given regularly to dogs at risk for parasite infections that result in blood loss. Due to blood loss, this may lessen anemia.

• Eat a healthy diet:

It’s crucial to feed your dog a balanced diet that is designed for his or her life stage. It should have enough iron, B vitamins, and other minerals for producing red blood cells in a healthy way.

• Supplement as necessary:

Under a veterinarian’s supervision, puppies, pregnant dogs, and dogs with ongoing medical conditions may benefit from additional iron and B12 supplements. Red blood cell levels may be improved by this.

• Keep an eye out for symptoms:

The best chance for a successful recovery from anemia is to identify it early. Keep an eye out for any potential warning symptoms, such as pale gums, weakness, lethargy, or fast breathing.

• Keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date.

Vaccinating your dog against infectious diseases like parvo and leptospirosis, which can cause anemia, is essential for prevention. Even previously immunized dogs could require boosters.