Dog Looking Sad | Diamond Pet Foods

What’s Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs Got to do with Anemia?

As we learned in science class, the kidneys are responsible for removing waste products from blood and producing urine. But what you may not know is that the kidneys also play a role in red blood cell (RBC) production. So if your dog has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), he or she is likely to develop anemia as the disease progresses.

In this post, we’ll explain what anemia is, what signs and symptoms to watch for, and what treatment options are available.

Anemia and the role of the kidneys

Anemia can be defined as an outright decrease in the number of circulating red blood cells. Veterinarians often describe anemia as regenerative or nonregenerative, based on how a dog’s bone marrow responds to the decreased RBC numbers. The bone marrow is where the body produces the majority of blood cells, including RBCs, white blood cells and platelets.

Regardless of animal species, red blood cells have a defined life span. In dogs, RBC life span is about 100 days, which is similar to humans (100 to 120 days); in cats, it’s about 72 days. At any given time, the red blood cells circulating in the bloodstream vary widely in age. Some RBCs are only a day old, others are 100 days old, and the majority are somewhere in between.

When red blood cells reach the end of their life span, they’re removed from circulation. The body recycles the iron molecules that are part of hemoglobin, and eliminates what’s left of the RBC as waste. As red blood cells age out of the circulation, the bone marrow makes and releases new cells so the number of circulating RBCs remains constant. In other words, the body is routinely removing old red blood cells and adding new ones.

One of the functions of kidneys is to produce and release the hormone erythropoietin in response to low blood oxygen levels. Erythropoietin travels through the bloodstream to the bone marrow, where it stimulates the production of new red blood cells. However, in dogs with kidney disease, the kidneys’ ability to make erythropoietin is compromised because there are fewer erythropoietin-producing cells. Less erythropoietin means the bone marrow isn’t stimulated to replace RBCs as they naturally die off, causing a gradual drop in red blood cell numbers, or anemia.

Clinical signs, symptoms and diagnosis of anemia

Anemia is common in dogs with advanced chronic kidney disease, and it results primarily from the inability of the kidneys to produce adequate amounts of erythropoietin. Anemia itself isn’t a disease. However, it does indicate the presence of disease.

Because RBCs transport oxygen from the lungs to all body tissues, the most common signs of anemia are lethargy (inactivity, decreased activity) and exercise intolerance (decreased ability to exercise at normally expected levels or duration). Decreased appetite and pale mucous membranes (for example, the gums) are typical too. In later stages, weakness and labored breathing may be seen.

Renal Dog Anemia Infographic | Diamond Pet Foods

Diagnosing anemia requires blood testing. Most veterinarians can quickly check a pet’s packed cell volume (PCV) in the hospital. The PCV indicates the percentage of red blood cells compared to fluid in whole blood. If a dog’s PCV is lower than the normal range, anemia is diagnosed.

Treatment options are available but limited

Options for treating anemia associated with CKD include replacement erythropoietin therapy, correcting factors that contribute to RBC loss and even blood transfusion. Giving erythropoietin injections is generally the most effective therapy.

The erythropoietin products most commonly used in dogs are recombinant human erythropoietin and darbepoetin alpha. Of the two, darbepoetin is currently the therapy of choice because it effectively increases PCV, works longer in the dog’s body, and is less likely to induce antibodies that cause the medication to become ineffective.

Talk with your veterinarian

Managing the anemia associated with chronic kidney disease may eventually be part of your dog’s CKD treatment plan. While neither CKD nor its associated anemia can be cured, treatment can contribute to your dog’s health and longevity and can improve quality of life. Your veterinarian can recommend the therapy that’s right for your pet.

 

RELATED POST: Get to Know Your Dog’s Hardworking Kidneys

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.

Search

  • Where to Buy Diamond Pet Food Near Me
    [gravityform id="22" ajax="true"]
    <div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper gravity-theme scoop-form_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_22' style='display:none'><div id='gf_22' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div> <div class='gform_heading'> <h2 class="gform_title">The Scoop Newsletter</h2> <span class='gform_description'></span> <p class='gform_required_legend'>&quot;<span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk">*</span>&quot; indicates required fields</p> </div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_22' id='gform_22' class='scoop-form' action='/blog/health/conditions/anemia-in-dogs/#gf_22' > <div class='gform_body gform-body'><div id='gform_fields_22' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><div id="field_22_8" class="gfield gfield--width-full gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><p class="sign-up-text">Sign up to receive email communications, including our <span style="white-space:nowrap;">e-newsletter</span>, The Scoop, where you can be the first to know about social contests, new blog posts and more!</p></div><fieldset id="field_22_1" class="gfield field_sublabel_hidden_label field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><legend class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Name</legend><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name has_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_2 ginput_container_name' id='input_22_1'> <span id='input_22_1_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_1.3' id='input_22_1_3' value='' aria-required='false' placeholder='FIRST NAME' /> <label for='input_22_1_3' class='hidden_sub_label screen-reader-text'>First</label> </span> <span id='input_22_1_6_container' class='name_last' > <input type='text' name='input_1.6' id='input_22_1_6' value='' aria-required='false' placeholder='LAST NAME' /> <label for='input_22_1_6' class='hidden_sub_label screen-reader-text'>Last</label> </span> </div></fieldset></fieldset><div id="field_22_2" class="gfield gfield--width-full gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_22_2' >Email<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk"> * <span class='sr-only'> Required</span></span></span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_2' id='input_22_2' type='text' value='' class='large' placeholder='EMAIL ADDRESS' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><fieldset id="field_22_3" class="gfield gfield--width-full pet-parent-radio gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_above hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><legend class='gfield_label' >PROUD PARENT OF A<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk"> * <span class='sr-only'> Required</span></span></span></legend><div class='gfield_description' id='gfield_description_22_3'>PROUD PARENT OF A</div><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_radio'><div class='gfield_radio' id='input_22_3'> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_3_0'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_3' type='radio' value='DOG' id='choice_22_3_0' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' aria-describedby="gfield_description_22_3" /> <label for='choice_22_3_0' id='label_22_3_0'>DOG</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_3_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_3' type='radio' value='CAT' id='choice_22_3_1' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_3_1' id='label_22_3_1'>CAT</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_3_2'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_3' type='radio' value='BOTH' id='choice_22_3_2' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_3_2' id='label_22_3_2'>BOTH</label> </div></div></div></fieldset></fieldset><div id="field_22_7" class="gfield gfield--width-full gfield_html gfield_html_formatted field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><button class="dropdown-toggle" type="button" id="puppy-drop" data-toggle="dropdown" aria-haspopup="true" aria-expanded="false">DO YOU HAVE A PUPPY?*</button></div><fieldset id="field_22_6" class="gfield gfield--width-full scoop-puppy-radios gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_above hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><legend class='gfield_label' >Do you have a Puppy?<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk"> * <span class='sr-only'> Required</span></span></span></legend><div class='gfield_description' id='gfield_description_22_6'>*By answering "Yes" to this question, you agree to receive the <i>Puppy Love</i> email series</div><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_radio'><div class='gfield_radio' id='input_22_6'> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_0'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='NO' id='choice_22_6_0' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' aria-describedby="gfield_description_22_6" /> <label for='choice_22_6_0' id='label_22_6_0'>NO</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 1 month old (or younger)' id='choice_22_6_1' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_1' id='label_22_6_1'>Yes, they're 1 month old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_2'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 2 months old' id='choice_22_6_2' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_2' id='label_22_6_2'>Yes, they're 2 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_3'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 3 months old' id='choice_22_6_3' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_3' id='label_22_6_3'>Yes, they're 3 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_4'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 4 months old' id='choice_22_6_4' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_4' id='label_22_6_4'>Yes, they're 4 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_5'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 5 months old' id='choice_22_6_5' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_5' id='label_22_6_5'>Yes, they're 5 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_6'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 6 months old' id='choice_22_6_6' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_6' id='label_22_6_6'>Yes, they're 6 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_7'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 7 months old' id='choice_22_6_7' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_7' id='label_22_6_7'>Yes, they're 7 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_8'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 8 months old' id='choice_22_6_8' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_8' id='label_22_6_8'>Yes, they're 8 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_9'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 9 months old' id='choice_22_6_9' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_9' id='label_22_6_9'>Yes, they're 9 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_10'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 10 months old' id='choice_22_6_10' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_10' id='label_22_6_10'>Yes, they're 10 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_11'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 11 months old' id='choice_22_6_11' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_11' id='label_22_6_11'>Yes, they're 11 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_12'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 12 months old' id='choice_22_6_12' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_12' id='label_22_6_12'>Yes, they're 12 months old</label> </div></div></div></fieldset></fieldset><fieldset id="field_22_9" class="gfield gfield--width-full field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><legend class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Newsletter Subscribe</legend><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_checkbox'><div class='gfield_checkbox' id='input_22_9'><div class='gchoice gchoice_22_9_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_9.1' type='checkbox' value='Company Newsletters, Contests &amp; More' checked='checked' id='choice_22_9_1' /> <label for='choice_22_9_1' id='label_22_9_1'>Company Newsletters, Contests & More</label> </div><div class='gchoice gchoice_22_9_2'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_9.2' type='checkbox' value='Puppy Love for your pup&#039;s first year?' checked='checked' id='choice_22_9_2' /> <label for='choice_22_9_2' id='label_22_9_2'>Puppy Love for your pup's first year?</label> </div></div></div></fieldset></fieldset><div id="field_22_10" class="gfield gfield--width-full field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><label class='gfield_label' for='input_22_10' >No Puppy subscribe</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_10' id='input_22_10' type='text' value='Company Newsletters, Contests &amp; More' class='large' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><div id="field_22_11" class="gfield gfield--width-full gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_11' id='input_22_11' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='The Scoop PopUp' /></div></div></div></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type="submit" id="gform_submit_button_22" class="gform_button button om-trigger-conversion scoop-pupout-submit-btn" value="I WANT THE SCOOP!" onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_22"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_22"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_22"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_22"]=true; jQuery("#gform_22").trigger("submit",[true]); }'> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=22&amp;title=1&amp;description=1&amp;tabindex=0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_22' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='22' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_22' value='WyJbXSIsIjMxNWNiMzMzODYwMmM1N2FiZWEyMTM0ZDJlYTQ2NGMyIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_22' id='gform_target_page_number_22' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_22' id='gform_source_page_number_22' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_22' id='gform_ajax_frame_22' title='This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.'></iframe> <script type="text/javascript"> gform.initializeOnLoaded( function() {gformInitSpinner( 22, 'https://www.diamondpet.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_22').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_22');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_22').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_22').val();gformInitSpinner( 22, 'https://www.diamondpet.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [22, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_22'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_22').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [22]);window['gf_submitting_22'] = false;wp.a11y.speak(jQuery('#gform_confirmation_message_22').text());}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_22').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [22, current_page]);} );} ); </script>