Causes and treatments of anaemia

 
January 17th, 2017
Anaemia-in-dogs

What is anaemia and how can it affect your four-legged friend? Tim Falk investigates how to tackle this potentially life-threatening condition.

Blood — regardless of whether you’re talking about dogs or people, we all know how important it is to health. And just as losing a lot of blood or having insufficient red blood cells can cause huge health problems for people, it can do exactly the same thing for our canine companions.

This is a potentially life-threatening health problem known as anaemia. Anaemic dogs have fewer than normal red blood cells in their blood, which can result from a number of different diseases or conditions.

Dr Liisa Ahlstrom, Technical Services Veterinarian at Bayer, explains the important role that red blood cells play in your dog’s health and wellbeing. “Red blood cells are continually  being produced by stem cells in the bone marrow and released into theblood, where they typically circulate for around two months,” she says. “Anaemia results from either decreased production of red blood cells or increased destruction or loss of red blood cells.”

Red blood cells of course carry oxygen, which is vital to your pooch’s survival, so any deficiency in the number of these cells can cause severe issues.

What causes it?
There are a number of conditions and problems that can lead to anaemia. Dr Ahlstrom explains that some of the most common causes of
anaemia include:

  1. Blood loss, possibly caused by:
    – bleeding (internal or external) following trauma or injury
    - heavy infestations with bloodsucking parasites, e.g. fleas, ticks, hookworms, whipworms
    - blood clotting disorders
    – bleeding tumours.
  2. Red blood cell destruction, possibly caused by:
    – auto-immune disease, where the body is attacking and destroying its own red blood cells
    – blood parasites that damage the red blood cells
    – chemicals or toxins
    – cancer.
  3. Reduction of red blood cell production by the bone marrow, possibly caused by: 
    – chronic disease
    – malnutrition
    – auto-immune disease
    – hypothyroidism
    – chemicals or toxins
    – cancer.
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