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Types of Anemia in Dogs

Did you know that there are different types of anemia in dogs? Today, our Westport vets explain the different types of this condition and their causes, symptoms and treatments. 

What is anemia?

Anemia is usually a sign of underlying disease. When a dog’s body is unable to produce enough red blood cells (hemoglobin), or when a condition such as trauma as a result of accident or injury, stomach ulcers or cancers causes severe blood loss, anemia can occur.

What are the types of anemia in dogs?

Aplastic or non-regenerative anemia

Insufficient production of red blood cells is the culprit behind this type of anemia. This may occur due to parvovirus or other conditions such as kidney disease or bone marrow disease. 

Types of anemia in dogs, Westport Vets

Certain medications, chemotherapy drugs, or exposure to toxins (poisoning) may also cause this.

Hemolytic anemia

This type of anemia can result from the destruction or breakdown of red blood cells. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) or immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), or non-immune mediated (due to toxins, parasites, hereditary disease or low phosphorous levels), often leads to this condition.


Dogs can be exposed to toxins if they get into human medications such as ibuprofen, benzocaine or acetaminophen. They may also suffer from certain genetic disorders. Both of these can rest in an excessive amount of methemoglobin in the blood, resulting in this type of anemia.

What are the symptoms of anemia in dogs?

The symptoms of anemia your dog may display can vary depending on which type of anemia they are suffering from, but signs may include:

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

What causes anemia in dogs?

Think of anemia as a symptom, not a specific disease. Anemia in dogs can be caused by several conditions, such as:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Canine distemper or other infectious diseases
  • Medications which interfere with red blood cell production
  • Cancer
  • Kidney Disease
  • Intestinal bleeding due to medications or disease
  • Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases
  • Chronic diseases which suppress or impact red blood cell production
  • Bone marrow disease
  • Poisons or toxins, including lead poisoning or rat poison
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Blood loss due to parasitic infections such as hookworms, whipworms or fleas

Can anemia be deadly to dogs?

Unfortunately, anemia can sometimes indicate your dog is suffering from a very serious, potentially fatal disease or condition such as poisoning, cancer or autoimmune disease.

This is why you should always take anemia in dogs seriously. If you see any symptoms of anemia or other serious condition in your dog, book an appointment with your vet immediately.

Can anemia in dogs be cured?

Depending on the cause of your dog’s anemia, whether the underlying condition is treatable and whether treatment is administered effectively and early enough, prognosis for anemia in dogs varies.

Once your vet establishes the cause of your dog’s anemia, he or she can recommend the best possible treatment.

Your vet may recommend these treatments:

  • Antibiotics
  • Immunosuppressive drugs
  • Change to current medications
  • Gastrointestinal medication
  • Deworming or parasite medications
  • Surgery
  • Potassium phosphate supplements
  • Blood transfusions
  • Chemotherapy
  • Bone marrow transfusion
  • Intravenous fluids

How can anemia in dogs be prevented?

Some breeds of dogs are susceptible to developing anemia. American Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers Shih Tzus and Miniature Schnauzers are vulnerable. That said, bringing your dog in for a routine examination at Westport Veterinary Associates can help to detect early signs of anemia.

Underlying conditions cause anemia in dogs, so reducing your pup’s risk of developing these conditions is critical. Keep fleas, worms and ticks at bay by ensuring your dog is up to date on parasite prevention medication.

Ensure toxic substances are kept far out of your dog’s reach to prevent him or her from getting into substances that could be toxic or poisonous to them. Making sure your pup eats a healthy diet will also help prevent poor nutrition.

Our vets have experience in diagnosing and treating challenging cases. We have a number of diagnostic tools and treatment methods at our disposal. 

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.

Do you suspect your dog is suffering from anemia or another serious condition? Staff at Westport Veterinary Associates are equipped to diagnose and treat many illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment today. 

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