What does it mean to be anemic?
is a reduced number of red blood cells (RBC’s), hemoglobin (HGB) or
both. It is not a specific disease but the result of some disease
How is anemia diagnosed?
most common clinical sign of anemia is a loss of the normal pink color
of the gingivae (gums). Anemic dogs also have little stamina so they
seem very listless or tired. Pale gums and lethargy indicate the need
to perform blood tests.
are several tests that are performed on the red blood cells. The most
common test for anemia is the packed cell volume (PCV) or
hematocrit. A blood sample is placed in a centrifuge to separate
the red blood cells from the plasma (the liquid part of the blood).
Thirty-five to fifty-five percent of the normal dog’s blood will be
red blood cells. If the PCV is below 35%, the dog is anemic. Others
tests to determine anemia include the red blood cell count and
the hemoglobin count. If these are below 5.5 x 106/mm3
or 12 g/dl, respectively, the dog is anemic.
What other tests are important when a dog is anemic?
important to know if the bone marrow is producing an increased number
of new red blood cells to replace those lost. Often, this can be
determined by a study of the stained blood smear. The presence
of increased numbers of immature (young) red blood cells usually means
the bone marrow is responding to the need for more red blood cells.
careful study of the blood smear is also important to look for
parasites that might be causing red blood cell destruction and
abnormal cells that could indicate leukemia.
bone marrow response is not obvious by studying the blood smear, a
reticulocyte count is performed. A special stain is used to
clearly identify reticulocytes (immature red blood cells).
bone marrow biopsy or aspirate is a procedure that provides cells
from the bone marrow. Studying these cells can give valuable
information about the cause of some anemias and the condition of the
biochemical profile and urinalysis are also important tests
for anemic dogs. These tests evaluate organ functions and electrolyte
levels. They will often provide important information about the
overall health of the dog.
fecal exam is important to identify the presence of parasites in
the intestinal tract that might be causing blood loss.
What diseases cause anemia?
Several tests are important for an anemic dog because there are many
diseases that cause anemia. These are grouped into 1) diseases that
cause blood loss, 2) diseases that cause hemolysis (red blood cell
breakdown or destruction), and 3) diseases that decrease the
production of red blood cells.
What diseases of dogs cause blood loss?
main causes of blood loss in dogs include:
Trauma or injury that severs blood
vessels or internal organs
Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and
Tumors of the intestinal tract,
kidneys, and urinary bladder
Diseases that prevent proper clotting of blood
What diseases of dogs cause hemolysis?
main causes of hemolysis in dogs include:
A. Autoimmune disease
B. Blood parasites
C. Chemicals or toxins
D. Neoplasia (cancer)
What diseases of dogs prevent red blood cell production?
main causes of bone marrow suppression that result in decreased red
blood cell production include:
A. Any severe, chronic
B. Very poor nutrition or
C. Autoimmune disease
E. Chemicals or toxins
F. Neoplasia (cancer)
There has been no mention of iron deficiency. Why not?
deficiency anemia is a common disease in people, especially women.
However, this is not common in dogs and is usually secondary to some
form of chronic blood loss. It is occasionally seen in puppies with
hookworms and poor diets.
How are anemic dogs treated?
your dog’s anemia is so severe that it is life-threatening, a blood
transfusion is needed. This may be performed immediately after a blood
sample is taken for testing. The main purpose of a blood transfusion
is to stabilize the dog long enough that a determination of the cause
of the anemia can be made.
Further treatment will be determined once the underlying disease has