Chronic loss of blood is the cause of dogs developing blood loss anemia. Common causes of blood loss are stomach ulcers, trauma, parasites, tumors in the gastrointestinal tract, fleas and hookworms. Due to blood loss occurring internally, it may be difficult for a pet parent to know for sure their dog is experiencing blood loss anemia. Pet parents should be observant of symptoms, such as weakness, depression, decreased appetite and pale mucous membranes.
Weak and Depressed
Behavioral changes in dogs will occur gradually or sometimes suddenly. Pet parents may notice their once playful pup is becoming a couch potato. He may seem sad, depressed and have extremely low energy. When he does walk around, his legs may tremble, and show signs of weakness and difficulty trying to hold up his own body weight. His interest in playing with toys, going for walks and grooming himself will decrease. Sleeping for long amounts of time that is out of his ordinary sleep schedule is one of the first symptoms pet parents notice.
Paleness of Mucous Membranes
Paleness around the eyes and inside the ears will occur. Pet parents should investigate more at the first sign of paleness. Push the upper lip in an upwards motion to expose the gums and mucous membranes. Dogs with blood loss anemia will experience pale mucous membranes and gums. Pet parents are urged to seek assistance from a licensed veterinarian immediately.
Pet parents may notice that their dog is leaving large amounts of food in the bowl after attempting to eat, or they are completely lacking the desire to eat. A true test to see if your dog has a decreased appetite is to hand feed him one of his all-time favorite treats. If he hesitates, finds it difficult to accept the treat or denies it completely, this is a sure sign that your dog is experiencing a decreased appetite. While a decreased appetite can mean many different things, your dog should be examined immediately by a veterinarian to confirm the proper diagnosis.
Increased Heart Rate and Rapid Breathing
Frequent and heavy panting and breathing is a common symptom of blood loss anemia in dogs. While most dogs will pant occasionally, especially during outdoor physical activity, dogs with blood loss anemia will produce rapid breathing and panting while lying still without exerting themselves. A rapid heart rate will accompany the rapid breathing due to the body trying to sustain the exertion of heavy breathing. Pet parents should bring their dog immediately to the veterinarian or animal clinic.