Anemia is defined as an overall reduction in the number of red blood cells within the bloodstream relative to normal levels within that pet. This reduction can occur from a number of processes, including an increased destruction or decreased production of red blood cells within the body.
The overall consequence of anemia is the inability of the blood to supply desired levels of oxygen to the tissues. Signs seen in an anemic pet include intense lethargy, weakness, increased respiratory and heart rates, and a pallor of the mucous membranes.
Depending upon the cause of the anemia, signs related to a blood clotting disorder might be seen as well. Finally, if red blood cells are being destroyed within the body, the skin and mucous membranes might become jaundiced.
A simple blood test performed by a veterinarian can tell you if your dog or cat is anemic. Treatment of anemia depends on the underlying cause. In severe cases, blood transfusions and oxygen therapy might be required to save the pet’s life until the cause can be identified and treated.
Therapy utilizing special compounds called colloids and other oxygen-carrying solutions can be lifesaving as well.