Understanding Iron-Deficiency Anaemia In Dogs

Iron-deficiency anaemia impairs the functioning of your dog's red blood cells and leaves them unable to transport enough oxygen around your dog's body. This can weaken their immune system and leave them vulnerable to developing health conditions related to their lungs and heart, such as tachycardia. This type of anaemia in dogs is typically caused by intestinal bleeding or parasites. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for iron-deficiency anaemia in dogs:


Common symptoms of iron-deficiency anaemia include the following:

  • Black stools or passing blood
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of interest in play and eating
  • Rapid panting
  • Slowed growth in puppies


Your vet will take details of your dog's symptoms and take a sample of their blood for a complete blood test. This can detect if your dog's haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body, and red blood cells are too low. Additionally, the vet will analyse a stool sample to establish if their stool contains blood or parasites. Dehydration can occur in dog's who've lost interest in eating and drinking, so the vet may also take a urine sample to check if your dog is dehydrated.

Treatment Approach

Your vet will correct your dog's red blood cell level with an iron replacement treatment plan. Your dog will visit the vet practice regularly, as determined by the vet, for intravenous iron supplementation. The course of treatment is likely to last several weeks, and your dog's red blood cell and haemoglobin levels will be checked to ensure they are within the normal range when treatment stops. The vet may then prescribe oral iron supplements for you to administer at home with the aim of maintaining your dog's iron levels.

The vet will also want to treat the underlying problem that caused your dog to become anaemic. If parasites were found, your dog will be given a course of anti-parasitic medication. However, if intestinal bleeding is present, your vet will need to carry out more tests, including diagnostic imaging, to determine the cause of the bleeding. Possible causes include a stomach ulcer, inflammatory bowel disease, stomach or bowel cancer and damage from swallowing a foreign object. Investigating the cause of internal bleeding can take some time, but the vet will keep a close eye on your dog while they are looking for the cause.

If your dog is displaying any of the listed symptoms, have them examined by your vet as soon as possible.