Anemia is a serious condition your dog could suffer that could become an emergency. In most cases, anemia is a sign of an underlying health problem. Therefore, it's important to keep an eye out for its signs and symptoms. Here are some ways that anemia shows up and more information about what kinds of conditions commonly cause it.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition where the number of red blood cells in your dog's blood are abnormally low. These red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and released into the bloodstream. After a time, your dog's spleen removes the old blood cells and recycles them, removing any damaged parts or waste. If any component of this system is malfunctioning, then it could result in anemia.
How Do Dogs Acquire Anemia?
Dogs acquire anemia in a number of ways. They could lose a lot of red blood cells through bleeding or being bitten. Excessive flea infestations are known to cause anemia, for example. They could also have an autoimmune disease that attacks the blood, spleen, or the bone marrow. Certain diseases, like parvovirus, can cause anemia.
What Are the Signs of Anemia?
Many dogs first show signs of anemia with lethargy and getting tired quickly during exercise. Also, your dog's gums and ears will also be a lighter shade, or they could look pink or even close to white. Some dogs will show signs of blood in the stool or vomit. Your dog may also lose his or her appetite.
How Do Veterinarians Treat Anemia?
Most of the time, the treatment depends on the cause. When the cause is found, then treating it will likely reduce or eliminate the anemia. The veterinarian will do a full blood test as well as check for parasites and organ problems. Emergency situations require intravenous fluids and a blood transfusion. This will stabilize your dog until the veterinarian can treat the cause.
What Happens if Anemia Is Not Treated?
If you don't treat your dog for anemia, or find the underlying cause, then your dog's condition will worsen. He or she may suffer long-term organ damage as well. While some types of chronic anemia are manageable without drastic treatment, non-treatment will likely result in death.
Since anemia leads to long-term problems, talk to your veterinarian for advice on the cause and treatment. If your dog gets extremely anemic, or the underlying cause gets worse, then contact an emergency veterinarian. For immediate treatment, visit a 24-hour animal hospital.