Anemia in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment 

Dr. Nadia Rodriguez

Sep 2, 2022

Call & Speak with a doctor Open 24/7, Even Holidays!

Walk in today for:




Point-of-Care Ultrasound


Urgent Care




Diagnostics + Testing


End-of-Life Care




Treatment + Hospitalization

Have you ever heard of anemia in dogs? Do you know what this condition looks like? Is your dog at risk of anemia, and if so, how do you recognize it? In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common symptoms and treatment options for dogs who have anemia.

Symptoms of Anemia in Dogs

As a pet owner, it’s important to to learn the symptoms of anemia in dogs. You can use this information to decide when it may be time to talk to your vet about your dog’s concerning symptoms, and you can also use it to understand your vet’s treatment recommends a bit better, too.

The symptoms of dog anemia include:

Loss of Gum Color

One of the first signs of anemia in dogs is a loss of color in the gums. Where a dog’s gums may be pink, dark red, purple, or black, they may appear very pale pink to white in an anemic dog. They may also look gray or blue, but this can sometimes indicate other problems, such as frostbite.

Lethargy and Weakness

Lethargy and weakness are symptoms that go along with a wide variety of canine health problems. However, they are also related to anemia. Anemic dogs do not have the energy to get up and move around, and so they may simply stay in one place most of the time.

Sudden Weight Loss

If your dog is too lethargic and weak to get up and eat, she will start to lose weight quickly. Sudden weight loss may indicate that your dog is anemic. However, this symptom is also commonly associated with cancer in dogs, so take her to the vet for sudden unexplained weight loss.

Rapid Heart Rate

A rapid heart rate on its own can indicate many health problems. However, when coupled with other symptoms on this list, it may further show that your dog is becoming anemic. Take your pet to the vet to determine what’s causing her rapid heart rate.

Difficulty Breathing

Difficulty breathing can be a serious and life-threatening symptom. Although not always associated with anemia, it is commonly found along with more serious cases of anemic dogs. Any time your dog is having trouble breathing, regardless of what you believe may be causing the symptom, she needs to see the emergency vet right away. The emergency vet can help you determine what is causing this symptom and can provide valuable information to your dog’s regular vet as well.

Blood in Stool, Vomit, and Urine

Dogs who are anemic may have blood in their stool, vomit, and urine. This blood may appear as dark red blood mixed together with the bodily fluids, or it may look more like blood clots throughout the fluids instead. Either way, it is a sign of serious anemia and should be treated as such. Take your pet to the emergency vet immediately if you notice this symptom.

Treatments for Dog Anemia

First, your vet will need to diagnose the cause of your dog’s anemia. The problem will only continue unless your vet can determine the source and then work to treat the underlying issue at hand.

Listed below are the treatments for anemia in dogs:


Steroids are given in situations when dogs suffer from anemia due to autoimmune disorders. Some other causes of anemia may be treated with steroids, depending on the specific dog and the situation. Follow your vet’s guidance for steroid treatment for your pet.


If anemia is caused by organ damage or some types of cancer, the vet may recommend surgery as a treatment. Your vet will talk with you about the risks and benefits of having surgery for your dog’s condition and will help you decide whether or not this is right for you and your pet.

Medication for Underlying Causes

Some underlying causes of anemia, such as severe parasitic infection or ingestion of a toxin, can be treated with medication. If your dog is diagnosed with one of these causes, the vet will help you understand how much and what type of medication your pet needs to recover.

Blood Transfusion

In severe instances of acute anemia, dogs may sometimes need a blood transfusion. Blood transfusions can help your dog stay in a stable condition while the vet determines what is causing her to become anemic. When proper treatment can be given, the blood transfusions can be tapered off.

Contact VEG if Your Dog Has Anemia 

Anemia is often a sign of a more serious underlying health problem, such as cancer. By working closely with your vet, you can determine the correct diagnosis for your pet’s condition and help her find the right treatment or management plan moving forward, too.

Contact VEG if you notice any of the symptoms that were mentioned above. We have locations all over the country that are open 24/7, including holidays. When you call VEG, you’ll talk with an emergency veterinarian who will help guide you and your pet in the right direction and find the right treatment plan moving forward.