Types of Anemia in Dogs

Anemia in dogs is often a symptom of another serious health issue. Today, our vets at South Wilton Veterinary Group will walk you through the different types of anemia you might find in your dog, what their causes are, their symptoms, and the treatments that are available to you to help your pup get back to their healthy happy selves. 

Why Anemia Occurs in Dogs

Anemia can occur in your dog if their body isn't able to produce enough red blood cells or hemoglobin. Anemia can also occur when your dog has lost a lot of blood caused by trauma or other conditions like stomach ulcers or cancer. 

If your dog is suffering from anemia, that is a good indicator of another underlying condition which may require your South Wilton vet's urgent attention. 

What are the different types of anemia?

Blood Loss Anemia

  • Blood loss anemia is caused by severe blood loss. This can be the result of a bleeding disorder, an accident, surgery, or an injury sustains by your pup. Internal bleeding can also cause blood loss anemia which can be the result of cancer, ulcers, parasites, or other serious health conditions. 

Aplastic or Non-Regenerative Anemia

  • When your dog isn't producing a sufficient number of red blood cells in their body, they are suffering from non-regenerative anemia. In dogs, the common causes of aplastic or non-regenerative anemia can be found in chemotherapy drugs, exposure to toxins, kidney disease, bone marrow disease and some medications. 


  • many different kinds of genetic disorders can lead to and excess of methemoglobin in your dogs blood. And this is is the cause of methemoglobinemia  in your pup. Methemoglobinemia  can also be cause by exposure to toxins or ingesting human medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or benzocaine. 

Hemolytic Anemia

  • The breakdown of destruction of red blood cells in your dog's body is referred to as hemolytic anemia. This kind of anemia is often caused by immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), or the non-immune-mediated for of the condition. The latter can be caused by parasites, hereditary disease, low phosphorus levels, and toxins. 

Symptoms of Anemia in Dogs

You dog will show different symptoms of anemia depending on the variety they are suffering from their condition's underlying cause. Here are some of the most common symptoms of anemia in dogs:

  • Vomiting
  • Fast pulse or rapid breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale gums, eyes or ears
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Black stools 
  • Swelling of the jaw or face
  • Weight loss

If your pet is displaying any of these symptoms, contact your vet as soon as you can to schedule an examination of your pup. When it comes to anemia and its underlying conditions, early diagnosis and treatment are essential to restoring your dog to full health.

Causes of Anemia in Dogs

Anemia can  be found in dogs with a number of serious health conditions. These include:

  • Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease
  • Chronic diseases that suppress red blood cell production
  • Poor nutrition
  • Infectious diseases (including canine distemper)
  • Medications that interfere with the production of red blood cells
  • Bleeding from the intestines
  • Severe blood loss due to injury or accident
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Bone marrow disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Blood loss caused by parasites
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Poisons or toxins
  • Cancer

Treatment for Anemia in Dogs

Your veterinarian will prescribe and treatment for your dog's anemia that will target their specific underlying condition. This treatment could include any of the following:

  • Antibiotics
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunosuppressive drugs
  • Blood transfusion
  • Surgery
  • Potassium phosphate supplements
  • Deworming
  • Change in existing medications
  • Bone marrow transfusion
  • Parasite medications
  • Gastrointestinal medication

Prognosis for Dogs with Anemia

Anemia can indicate any number of serious or life-threatening disease or condition in your dog like auto-immune disease, cancer, or poisoning. The prognosis for your dog's recovery will very much depend on how available the treatment for your canine companion's underlying illness is. 

Can I prevent my dog from developing anemia?

The best way to combat anemia in dogs is by preventing the conditions which cause it. You should make sure that you keep toxic substances out of your dog's reach and make sure you're giving them a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. 

You should also take steps to protect your dog against worms and other parasites. Do this by helping them avoid situations where they might e exposed to parasites, and by giving them anti-parasite medication regularly. 

If your pup is a breed which may be at higher risk for developing anemia such as Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Schnauzers and  Labrador Retrievers, make sure you bring your companion in for regular checkups with your vet every six months so they can monitor your dog for the condition's early signs. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Is your dog displaying symptoms of anemia? Contact our Fairfield County vets today to book an examination of your furry companion. Ore team of vets are experienced in diagnosing and treating a wide range of illnesses and conditions in dogs, including anemia. 

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