”’Canine anemia”’ is a reduced number of red blood cells. It is not a disease on its own, but a result of another disease.
Bone marrow produces red blood cells and releases them into the blood. After around 8 weeks, they are removed from the bloodstream and broken down to create new cells. An anemic dog will either remove too many cells or not produce enough new ones. Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen through out your dog’s body, which maintains proper body function.
Canine anemia is most commonly caused by:<br/>
*Kidney damage that prevents bone marrow from producing more cells
*Blood does not clot properly
*An excessive amount of parasites (whipworms, hookworms, ticks or fleas)
*Any injury that causes excessive bleeding
*Tumors of the intestinal tract (urinary bladder, kidneys or spleen)
The most obvious symptom is:<br/>
*Pale pink or white gums.
If you notice pale gums, you must get a blood test performed as soon as possible.
Other symptoms of canine anemia include:<br/>
*Lack of energy and depression
*Loss of appetite and weight loss
*Increased breathing rate (your pet is trying to get more oxygen)
Your vet will begin with studying the complete medical history of your dog and performing a physical exam. Then he will perform different blood tests:<br/>
*”’PCV (Packed Cell Volume):”’ Checks the ratio of red blood cells to the rest of the blood. In a healthy dog, 25% to 45% percent of the blood will be red blood cells. If less than 25% is red blood cells, the dog is anemic.
*”’CBC (Complete blood count):”’ Measures the total amount of red and white blood cells in the body.
*”’Blood smear:”’ A blood sample is smeared on a slide. Your veterinarian will examine the blood by checking the amount, size, and shape of red blood cells under a microscope. Your vet will also look for parasites that might be causing destruction to the red blood cells.
*”’Bone marrow biopsy:”’ Checks if the bone marrow is responding correctly to the anemic state. Non-functioning bone marrow may be the cause of the anemia.
*”’Fecal parasite exam:”’ Shows if there are parasites in the intestinal tract that might be causing blood loss.
Treatment will depend on the cause of canine anemia, and consist of either medications or surgery.
If the anemia is life threatening, your dog will need a blood transfusion, which will temporarily stabilize your dog allowing your veterinarian to determine the cause of the anemia, and begin treatment.
There are a variety of causes for canine anemia, and most of them are preventable. The best thing to do is to ensure your dog is up to date on all preventives, especially for fleas, ticks and internal parasites.
The prognosis depends on the medical problem that is causing canine anemia.
*If the anemia is diagnosed early and your dog is in overall good health, there is a good prognosis for recovery.
*If anemia is caused by a severe disease, such as cancer, it could be life-threatening.