Pet health: Is your dog anaemic? Symptoms and causes of iron deficiency in pets

Published on Oct 19, 2022 05:42 PM IST

If your dog has low energy levels, poor appetite and losing a lot of weight, it must be tested for anaemia. Here are all the possible causes of iron deficiency in dogs explained.

Iron deficiency in dogs can be caused by a variety of health conditions(Pixabay)
Iron deficiency in dogs can be caused by a variety of health conditions(Pixabay)
By, Delhi

Is your dog appearing tired or jaded of late and lost a lot of weight? You must check your pooch's gums, eyes and tummy to check if they are of healthy pink colour or a concerning white or yellow. In latter case, your dog may be suffering from anaemia or low iron levels. Iron deficiency in dogs can be caused by a variety of health conditions from intestinal worms, malnutrition, bacterial or viral infections in case of young dogs to thyroid issues, cancer or UTI in senior dogs. If one suspects their furry friends to be anaemic, they should immediately get the mandatory tests done to prevent further complications. (Also read: Pet care: What makes a dog truly happy; pet expert shares)

Dr Narendra Gandhi, Director, Dr Gandhi’s Pet Hospital in a telephonic conversation with HT Digital talked about all the possible causes of iron deficiency in dogs and how to avoid it. The veterinary doctor says there are various medical conditions that can be suspected in case of iron deficiency in dogs depending on the age of the pet.

CAUSES OF IRON DEFICIENCY IN PUPPIES OR YOUNG DOGS

"If the dog is young, the first suspicion is what we call as intestinal worms or parasitic infection. They will always cause loss of blood which medically leads to loss of iron. Poor nutrition can also be one cause. If any pet is undernourished and not given proper food those will have a persistent type of anaemia and this is the kind of anaemia the body stops recognising and get used to it. In puppies, another thing that you can suspect is influenza that can cause anaemia. You may also suspect parvovirus which is a gastrointestinal virus and there are other infectious diseases also caused by bacteria," says Dr Gandhi.

CAUSES OF IRON DEFICIENCY IN ELDERLY DOGS

"In elderly dogs you may suspect hypothyroidism in middle age. If the dog is 5 years and above, that's the mean age of cancers to set in, so one may also suspect cancer. Lymphomas, urinary tract infections where there is loss of blood, all these conditions are symptomatic and age related," says the vet.

SYMPTOMS OF ANAEMIA IN DOGS

Dr Gandhi says some dogs may have persistent anaemia which means they do not have extremely low iron levels but still in anaemic range and the body just tends to adapt to these.

"These dogs will tend to be inactive; they are generally low; they have rapid respiration rate. If you check them out, their colour is normal, they do not have dark stools which is a very common thing with dogs who are losing blood, iron or haemoglobin. Those things are absent there," says Dr Gandhi stressing that this indicates asymptomatic iron deficiency in dogs.

Apart from this, it is usual for an anaemic dog to have a pale mucous membrane.

"A dog's mucous membranes are seen in gums. When we lift the lip, gumline should be pink, the eyesight inside the conjunctiva should also be also pink. The belly of the pet should be checked which should normally be a healthy faint pink colour. If the dog is anaemic it will begin to be either yellow or white," says Dr Gandhi.

The veterinary doctor recommends the inclusion of more colourful food in the diet for the pets to prevent iron deficiency due to malnutrition. "Anything which is green or red is good," he says.

SURPRISING CAUSES OF ANAEMIA IN DOGS

Dr Gandhi says that sometimes certain medication can also cause anaemia, while eating onion can also be a cause of anaemia.

DIAGNOSIS OF ANAEMIA IN DOGS

"First identify the cause, treat the underlying cause, again if you suspect worms, stool exam will tell us. Blood transfusions are given depending on the cause of the anaemia, iron supplements are given right away in case of surgeries. Sometimes the dog has simply got injured and has lost blood because of that, then we give them supplements. Blood transfusion is not a very common practice in India but when you do it they are very successful," says the expert.

Warning against the dangers of rat poison, Dr Gandhi says that it can cause absolute acute anaemia that is normally not reversible.

"We get this very commonly and those dogs will eventually be produced with vomiting of blood and blood in the faeces. These dogs do not really recover. Chances of recovery are extremely poor to guarded," Dr Gandhi signs off.

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