Vet Talks: Anemia in Cats and Dogs and How To Help Your Pet Vet Talks 3 min read
In my practice, I see anemia frequently as I deal with senior pets, and terminally ill dogs and cats. Anemia is defined as a decreased hematocrit (HCT) or hemoglobin. Packed cell volume (PCV) is the same definition as hematocrit which is a calculated value from the mean cell volume and red blood cell count and hemoglobin concentration, which are provided by blood analyzing machines. One of the main functions of red blood cells is delivery of oxygen. When this is low, all body systems can slow quickly due to inadequate oxygen delivery.
Without adequate oxygen delivery, your pet may be weak, tired and lethargic, and in the worst cases unable to breathe well. You might notice his or her normally pink tongue or nose is pale. Anemia generally occurs as a result of another disease, you may also see signs of the underlying problem such as excessive drinking and urinating, vomiting, bloody or tarry stools or a bloated stomach, very dry coat, and or just generalized weakness. Anemia in Cats and dogs occurs when the HCT is below 25 in cats and below 30 in dogs. Cats below 15%, and dogs below 20% is very serious anemia.
Anemia itself is not a disease — it is a sign of an underlying problem. So when your veterinarian says your pet is anemic, like me, we are going to recommend looking for an underlying reason. That will include additional testing such as blood chemistries, infectious disease testing, autoimmune testing, urinalysis and imaging such as radiographs and or ultrasound depending on the presenting clinical signs.
Some common causes of anemia in dogs and cats include:
Blood loss from autoimmune disease, bone marrow insufficiency, inadequate intake of iron, parasite infestation, or neoplasia. Other causes of anemia include anesthetic agents, tranquilizers which can result in an apparent anemia due to physiologic reasons. In addition, young animals frequently have anemia due to rapid growth rate in the first few months of life (generally < 4 months old)
How is Anemia in Cats and Dogs Treated
Anemia is treated according to its underlying cause; But if I am presented with an older patient with clinical signs of anemia such as a pale tongue, dry coat, smooth paw pads and weak femoral pulses, I will treat additionally with supplements and food to combat blood deficiency which often accompanies anemia.
Food recommendations typically include blood enriching foods such as liver and beef.
What supplements help with anemia in cats and dogs
Supplements include NHV multi essentials, yucca, and turmeric in addition to Chinese herbs, omega 3 fatty acids, and a change in diet. Treating the whole patient for anemia has the best chance for resolution.
Yours in wellness,
Dr. H. Cook (DVM, CVA)
Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!
Published: December 8, 2019