If your dog consumes a high-quality commercial diet, he should receive sufficient iron. Dogs suffering from certain diseases or who experience chronic loss of blood might require iron supplementation, but don't give your pet these products without veterinary approval.
Your dog's body requires iron to properly develop red blood cells. Without healthy red blood cells, adequate oxygen isn't carried to the cells in his body. In foods, iron is found primarily in organ meats, such as liver and kidney. If you feed your pet a raw diet rather than commercial dog food, make sure it contains iron-rich meats.
Symptoms of iron deficiency in dogs include appetite loss, dark and tarry feces, pale gums, lethargy, lack of growth in young canines, rapid respiration, exercise intolerance and frequent infections. The most frequent cause of iron deficiency is anemia due to blood loss. It can result from parasite infestation, trauma, intestinal blood loss or cancer.
Once your vet has diagnosed your dog with anemia or an iron deficiency through blood testing, she might prescribe supplemental iron. However, initial iron supplementation might be given intravenously if your dog's levels are severely depleted, with regular injections given by the vet. Only when the iron levels rise to a sufficient state will your vet prescribe iron pills, which aren't as easily absorbed by dogs.
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