Anemia in pets

~ by Dr. Fernando Riera S.

Anemia is a condition of the blood, in which the number of red cells is lower than normal. The most common causes are diseases, parasites, and autoimmunity. In puppies, anemia caused by gastrointestinal parasites is common, and such parasites feed themselves directly from the intestinal blood and nutrients.

This is why it is recommendable to deworm the animal’s mother before giving birth, and then the puppies when they are 2 weeks old. Other parasites, such as Babesia, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia, which are transmitted by ticks, live in the blood and destroy blood cells.

Anemia in pets

Anemia in pets

Another type is autoimmune hemolytic anemia, which is very common in puppies, especially in their first months of life. This acute-course condition makes animals’ own bodies destroy their blood cells, and it must be diagnosed as
soon as possible. Also, anemia develops when there is bone marrow failure, since the production of cells is compromised. The reasons may be that the animal was born with such a condition, or it was acquired through a disease or some administered medication.

There are also nutritional anemias, in which poor nutrition or a low ingestion of vitamins and iron do not stimulate the production of red cells. The initial stages of anemia are not visible, so blood tests are necessary.

When the symptoms are advanced, the patient’s mucous membrane is pale, as well as their gums and tongue. Plus, they may get tired faster and sleep more than usual. Carrying out blood tests at least once a year as prevention, as well as tests every six months for predisposed patients (whether they are old or have had ticks) is recommendable. 

However, the veterinarian’s advice must be followed, since each case is unique.

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