Anemia in dogs comes about when they have a lower than normal level of red blood cells carrying oxygen to the body. Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin that gives blood its red color and carries oxygen to all the crucial parts of the body.
When there is a substantial reduction in the amount of red blood cells created, the dog has to work extra hard to supply oxygen throughout the body. Dogs with anemia have an increased heart rate which often causes tiredness, pale gums and depression.
Anemia in dogs can become a very serious condition if not treated right away. Puppies particularly, are at an increased risk of developing anemia if they are plagued with fleas or internal parasites like worms. Puppies become easily weakened when fleas and worms are feeding off their blood and this can cause severe anemia. So, it is extremely important to eradicate fleas and worms as soon as they appear.
Symptoms and signs of anemia in dogs:
Pales eyes and ears
Loss of appetite
Irregular breathing and heartbeat
Episodes of collapse
Blood in urine or feces
There are numerous causes of this condition. These can be divided into three categories; blood loss, hemolysis and the insufficient output of red blood cells.
Blood loss can occur as a result of an accident that causes damage to the blood vessels or internal organs in the form of a stomach ulcer, from parasites, tumors of the intestinal tract, urinary bladder and kidneys and diseases that prevent proper clotting of blood.
Some substances and toxins such as raw or cooked onions, drugs (Tylenol, aspirin), zinc, copper, propylene glycol which is sometimes found in canned food can also cause the destruction of red cells and are very dangerous.
One of the basic causes of anemia in dogs is hemolytic anemia which occurs as a result of immune-mediated diseases. In immune-mediated diseases, the dog's immune system destroys it's own red blood cells rather than its own germs. Hemolytic anemia is inclined to be more common in dogs, particularly poodles, spaniels and Old English sheepdogs.
Female dogs are affected to a greater extent than males and this disease can strike at any age. Infectious diseases such as Babesia can lead to hemolysis. Hemolysis may also be caused by cancer, kidney failure, hereditary diseases, and mechanical damage to the red blood cells, toxic heavy metals and exposure to certain drugs.
If the bone marrow does not produce an increasing number of new red blood cells, then certain factors or diseases may contribute to the prevention of red blood cell output. These include poor nutrition or nutritional imbalances, exposure to toxins and chemicals, any severe, chronic disease, autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism or cancer.
The diagnosis is based on symptoms such as pale gums, listlessness, weakness and lethargy. Blood tests are performed to determine whether your dog is anemic.
Analyzing a stained blood smear, bone marrow biopsy or aspirate may also provide useful information about whether the bone marrow is creating new red blood cells and what might be causing the anemia. Additionally, a urinalysis, biochemical profile and fecal exam may also be performed.
Treatment hinges on the fundamental cause which may be treated with intravenous fluids and medications. In instances where anemia is serious, a blood transfusion may be needed to replace lost blood. In order to preserve optimal health of your dog, see to it that it is fed a healthy diet, exercises on a regular basis and has sufficient water to drink. Keeping your dog free from fleas, ticks and worms with a good repellant will also help to prevent anemia.
Natural treatments such as herbal remedies have also proven to be highly effective in providing symptomatic relief for anemia in dogs. Herbal remedies are safe and gentle enough to use while at the same time treats overall health and wellbeing of the animal.
Immunity and liver support contains a selection of herbal ingredients such as Taraxacum officinalis(Dandelion), Echinacea purpurea, Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Sylibum marianus (Milk Thistle) that supports healthy immune functioning and hemoglobin levels, and helps to cleanse and purify the body's system. It is also an excellent tonic for the lymphatic system and promotes vitality and balance.