Graphic by Artur.
This article is the final in an (interrupted) series covering anemia in pets. To view them all in order, visit this link and scroll through it.
As mentioned in the first article in this series, vitamins do not cure anemia. They are always important in nutrition, but they are not our primary method of curing anemia.
We try to identify anything in the environment that might cause the anemia via blood loss. In an instance of ingesting rat poison, for example, any source of poison would be removed.
If a dog or a cat is bleeding internally from rat-bait poison, a clotting problem is causing the resulting anemia. In this case, we use vitamin K to stop the bleeding. A blood transfusion may still be necessary. Photo courtesy of Long Beach Animal Hospital.
Looking for external causes of bleeding, typically from a wound, can yield a cause. Direct pressure, suturing a laceration, or surgically repairing a blood vessel might be necessary. The bleeding can also be internal, so we might need to give medication to stop an ulcer from bleeding.
If the immune system is attacking the RBCs, as in the case of immune mediate hemolytic anemia, then an antiinflammatory medication like cortisone is used. If it is caused by an infection, antibiotics might be used; if caused by cancer, surgery to remove the tumor or chemotherapy would be the action taken.
For immune mediated hemolytic anemia, a version of cortisone may be used. Our vets initially might use an injectable version like dexamethasone. Photo courtesy of LBAH.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the more common causes of anemia in dogs and especially in cats. If the anemia is a result of a chronic disease such as a kidney ailment, then improving kidney function should be the strategy. Our website has a detailed page covering renal failure.
In anemia of a chronic nature, iron injections can be given to make sure that the hemoglobin has enough stores of iron to hold oxygen. A medication to stimulate the bone marrow to produce red blood cells similar to the natural erythropoietin secreted by the kidneys is also used.
With severe anemia, a blood transfusion will be needed to get over the acute anemic episode until the cause can be identified and treated.
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