Other health problems

Diet and Care for Dogs with Anemia

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 12, 2020
Diet and Care for Dogs with Anemia

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Canine Anemia is directly related to a low red blood cell count in a dog's blood. It can occur for various reasons, ranging from injuries and the presence of parasites to canine parvovirus or the excessive appearance of antibodies. A vet is the only professional who can effectively diagnose and treat this disease, which can easily be confused with other common dog illnesses.

Once anemia in dogs has been diagnosed, you will need to follow the veterinarian's treatment plan. This will involve treating the underlying cause of anemia, but additional care will need to be taken to improve the dog's well-being. This is why AnimalWised provides some tips on diet and care for dogs with anemia. While these homemade natural treatments are used to supplement a dog anemia diet, you will need to discuss your options with a veterinarian before administering them.

You may also be interested in: Food for Cats With Diabetes - Diabetic Cat Diet
  1. What is anemia in dogs?
  2. Treating anemia in dogs
  3. Food for dogs with anemia
  4. A homemade diet for an anemic dog
  5. My Dog is anemic and won't eat
  6. Caring for a dog with anemia

What is anemia in dogs?

The first thing to understand about anemia in dogs is that it is not a disease in itself. It is a condition which is characterized by a count of low red blood cells. This varies in severity, but it can result in dangerously low hemoglobin levels. As hemoglobin transports oxygen from the lungs to different parts of the body, low red blood cells can have various negative consequences on the health of the dog.

Anemia often presents as a symptom of a disease or other condition which affects the dog's health. The red blood cells are made in the bone marrow of dogs and last about about three months before they need to be replaced.

The causes of anemia in dogs are varied. While diet can help to treat the symptoms of anemia, not all causes are related to what the dog eats. However, a diet deficient in iron or other nutrients can at the very least be a contributing factor. Other causes of anemia in dogs include:

  • Extreme blood loss, such as that caused by physical trauma.
  • Side effects of medication which cause internal bleeding or ruptured ulcers.
  • Cancer can be a factor in development of anemia.
  • Diseases which cause the immune system to attack red blood cells.
  • Kidney disease and other organ failure.
  • Infectious diseases such as Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis spread by tick bites.
  • Other parasitical infestations which lead to disease.
  • Gastrointestinal diseases which affect metabolism.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Poisoning or intoxication.

Many of the causes of anemia in dogs do not have obvious symptoms in their beginning stages. For example, kidney failure can progress to a large extent before observable symptoms appear. If it has developed, the dog will likely show the following symptoms of anemia:

  • Lethargy
  • Gum discoloration
  • Disinclination to exercise
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Dark colored stools
  • Eating dirt

If you see any of these signs and symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, you should take your dog to the veterinarian. They will be able to diagnose the underlying cause and initiate the correct course of treatment.

Treating anemia in dogs

The treatment of anemia in dogs involves treating the underlying condition. This may involve taking medication, implementing lifestyle changes or a mixture of both. Changing the dog's diet may be beneficial, but this will depend on the condition. For this reason, you will need to speak to your veterinarian before implementing an anemic dog diet.

If your dog is anemic and want to know what type of dietary options are available, keep reading. We will show you some home treatments which can supplement, but never replace, veterinary medical treatment.

Diet and Care for Dogs with Anemia - Treating anemia in dogs

Food for dogs with anemia

Diet plays a very important role for dogs suffering from anemia, since they usually have significant deficiencies in protein, iron and vitamins. One exception is cases of anemic internal bleeding caused by an ulcer. In these cases, the dog will be treated with acid pumps and antibiotics. The following foods should help make them stronger and recover necessary nutrients.

Dog food high in iron is essential for a dog that is suffering from anemia. It is estimated that dogs need 1 milligram of iron for every 12 grams of food. High-quality foods are most recommended, because they allow the animal to correctly absorb the required nutrients. Some iron-rich foods for dogs include:

  • Calf liver
  • Lamb meat
  • Ox meat
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Anchovies
  • Tuna
  • Sardine
  • Beans
  • Clams
  • Cockles

Vitamin C helps the animal to correctly absorb the iron, so it will also be a good idea to think of foods which contain high amounts of it. Sunlight is another factor which also helps the animal to absorb this important vitamin. Some foods which are rich in vitamin C are:

  • Peppers
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Raw cabbage

Proteins are hugely beneficial for anemic dogs. They allow them to gain more strength and energy, helping to get over the disease with greater ease. Some foods containing protein that you can easily find at home include:

  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Rice
  • Horse mackerel
  • Mackerel
  • Bream
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach

Vitamin B is another nutritional supplement which is very useful for dogs recovering from anemia. Many of the foods mentioned above contain this vitamin, but here are some more with which you can enrich an anemic dog's diet.

  • Pork kidneys
  • Lamb brain
  • Calf heart
  • Mackerel
  • Oats
  • Rice flour
  • Apple
  • Watermelon
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Dandelion
  • Banana

A homemade diet for an anemic dog

This homemade recipe for dogs is nice and easy to make and includes a little bit of all of the ingredients listed above, specifically related to a dog anemia diet. The quality of the products and the homemade preparation will help to get your dog to eat, which is one of the most common problems of dogs with anemia.

Get hold of the following ingredients:

  • 200 grams rice
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 200 grams salmon
  • 1 sweet potato

Follow this simple step by step:

  1. Place a pot full of water over the hob and add a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. When the water is boiling, add the rice, which will take roughly 20 minutes to cook (check packaging).
  3. Meanwhile, cut the other ingredients into pieces which are suitable for the size of your dog. It is most common to dice them up into small pieces.
  4. When there is 10 minutes left for the rice to cook, add the remaining ingredients: pepper, egg, salmon and sweet potato.
  5. When it has finished cooking, simply remove the rice and the other ingredients and leave them to stand until they cool down to at least room temperature.
  6. Crush the egg (shell included) and mix all the ingredients well.
  7. Use the appropriate amount for the size of your dog.

My Dog is anemic and won't eat

Seeing your dog's health deteriorating is a horrible experience - even when you make them delicious and tasty meals, this often won't be enough for a sick animal. If this is the case with you, we at AnimalWised will give you some tricks that can help you get your dog to eat:

  • Try encourage your dog to drink chicken stock without salt or other seasonings instead of water. This will hydrate it and give it lots of protein. You will have to ensure there are no toxic ingredients in the broth, likely meaning you will have to make it yourself.

  • If your dog is happy to drink the chicken stock, try to include some rice in it and add some vegetables or fruits such as apple or cauliflower so that they get some vitamins.

  • If your dog has no problems eating fruit, try to give them small pieces of watermelon and melon, which are rich in water and vitamins. However, try not to use too many as they have a high sugar content.

  • Whilst it isn't particularly digestible, some dogs enjoy eating soft cheese without salt, which gives them an excellent boost of protein.
Diet and Care for Dogs with Anemia - My Dog is anemic and won't eat

Caring for a dog with anemia

Anemic dogs feel weak and sensitive due to the lack of vitamins and iron in their bodies. You should therefore take caution during walks, trying not expose them to excessive heat, exercise or extremely long walks.

Try getting them to drink fresh water or soup frequently to prevent them from getting dehydrated during the day. This can give them a greater urge to go to the toilet, so you should give them more short walks during the day.

Don't forget that one of the most common causes of anemia is the appearance of external or intestinal parasites. Checking your dog for fleas every month and deworming them every three months is a good way of stopping this from happening again.

Sticking to the vaccination schedule for puppies and dogs and the obligatory biannual vet visit will be other ways of preventing the disease from returning.

These are our tips on diet and care for dogs with anemia - share yours in the comments section!

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Diet and Care for Dogs with Anemia, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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My dig had bleeding anal tumors, she has been on atibiotics which hav quit working; the vet never said a word about what the bleeding and antibiotics would do to her stomach. She is now anemic and I can't get her to drink anymore water, now eat anything. I'm watching my dog die; don't say anything again about checking with your vet~
My dog has been diagnosed with IMHA this site has given me a great idea for dietary. She is currently seeing a vet on high dose of steroid and I’m hoping she will make it through. This will be a long haul with treatment. At least a few months. I just fed her sardines for the iron and she seemed a bit brighter. I am going to try some of the home mad recipes next.
Thank you for all the tips.
Administrador AnimalWised
You're welcome Craig!
Yes my dog Blake also was just diagnosed with the same thing on meds and transfused
Im so very sad
Would love advice what to feed my Yorkie, who is anemic and suffers from renal failure. She loves blueberries, strawberries, rice, sweet and white potatoes. What can I feed her to help her conditions? Thank you
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi KeeKee,

This article on homemade diets for dogs with renal failure should be able to shed some light:


However, it is always important to speak to your veterinarian about any individual dog's specific circumstance, so make sure you run your Yorkie's diet by them first.
My dog has anemia- he is not eating and can't make him to eat anything- how long can he go without food - he is drinking water and just got a steroids shot today- when he will feeel like eating - how long it will take for the shot start working? He has seops of watered blood coming from his nose. - he is not getting up- I took him to the vet today but I don't if I should take him to the hospital-
Any advice for dogs that have been diagnosed with IMHA?
he's otherwise a healthy 100 pound strong lab
i want to add some supplements to the medications he is on and feed him what was in the article.
thank you
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi GG,

With every case of IMHA, it will depend on the individual dog. Even more so than many other health problems in dogs, IMHA's treatment is very specific and is notorious for causing secondary complications. Particularly worrying is the effects it can have on vital organ function. While an amended diet can help, the dog's needs will depend on the individual. We stress that you should speak tom the veterinarian and heed their specific advice.
Dog mom
Isn't the usual veterinarian advice never vaccinate a sick dog?
Administrador AnimalWised

It will be at the discretion of the veterinarian when the vaccinations should be carried out, but you are correct that if the dog has a temporarily lowered immune system then vaccinations are not likely recommended. However, vaccinations are mentioned in this article as prevention of anemia, not a treatment.
Naman Rastogi
Please tell me about the report of my 6 year old German shepherd dog
Administrador AnimalWised
Hello Naman,

Our articles are for information purposes only. The information you have shown is part of a complete veterinary medical picture which your veterinarian needs to discuss with you. If they have not done so, please make an appointment to speak to them.
Pranav Sharma
Can I give milt and buiscuits to dog with anemia
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Pranav,

We give our recommendations in the article, but we do not recommend milk and biscuits. Most adult dogs are essentially lactose intolerant (https://www.animalwised.com/can-dogs-eat-kefir-2672.html) and biscuits have sugar, fat and other content which are not good for your dog.
My dog has iron deficiency anemia, he is taking iron pills but want to know if I can still give him a diet ie. liver and red meat, or would this be too much iron?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Norma,

It is possible it will be too much iron, but part of the problem in feeding liver to dogs is that too much in general can cause certain GI issues. Liver is high in iron, but it would be difficult to determine how much is too much in conjunction with the pills. Feeding them a little bit shouldn't be problematic. However, you should consult the vet who diagnosed them anemic to be sure.
Mary Jo Harrison
I wish I had discovered this site a 12 months ago. This article about diet and care for dogs with anemia would have been such a help. My mixed breed dog was severely injured when attacked by two pit bulls. The pits tore a hole in fence to get into yard. My pup had anemia afterwards. It has taken months to get his count back up to normal. His count is normal now. I feel that if I had followed a few of these diet recommendations his recovery would have been faster. Plus, he loves many of the foods recommended here to improve blood count.
Administrador AnimalWised
We may be late, but we are so glad we can be of use to you and your beloved dog. Keep up the good work and we hope they go from strength the strength!
sue gillett
our dog has just started to lick on dresser handles that are metal he try's to do it hiding but we here the handles moving he is 7 yrs old springer beagle mix
Administrador AnimalWised

We are unsure if you are asking a question, but if your dog is licking things they shouldn't, it is possible they have a condition known as ‘pica’. We are not saying they do have it, but it is something to consider. Take a look below for more information:

Kotie Naude
Very helpfull thank you. But my baby didnt make it😥😣
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Kotie,

We are very sorry to hear of your loss. We hope you can move on with minimal trauma.

If you wonder why we deleted your photo, it is because it may prove too upsetting for some of our community.
Kotie Naude
Thanks for the advice. The best by far
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Kotie,

Thank you for stopping by, we always appreciate it!
My 14 months old GSD, Winter, was bleeding internally for weeks. No symptoms. Then all of the sudden she was peeing blood and went from tons of energy, to completely broken down. To the vet/hospital, admitted for 4 days, blood work showed her blood was not clotting, x-ray showed all her organs were pushed to her spine and the back of her body, ultrasound confirmed she needed an emergency splenectomy (it was contorted, rare, but does happen in big breeds). Due to this she is currently anemic. Your article helped me relax a little and focus on building her back up again. She loves the recipe you shared!! I am feeding her everything that's suggested and she is being a good girl and eating everything. Thank you so much!!
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Silvia,

Thank you so much for your comment. It sounds like Winter had a rough time of it, but we are so glad she has a guardian who cares so much about her and was able to recognize the symptoms in time. On our behalf, we are glad we can provide a little reassurance as well as some practical assistance. We would like to hear a little more about Winter and how she is recovering. Would it be OK if we sent you an email about it?
i got a one month old puppy from street and find it is suffering from anemia. i have given treatment for diarrhea and presently it is eating only sweet potato and not any other food. what should i do to get her out of anemia. it is female puppy. looks like a good breed.
Administrador AnimalWised

A dog needs protein to survive, especially with anemia. If they are refusing to eat, it is possible they have an underlying pathology. If the suggestions in the article don't work, it seems likely you will have to take them to a vert as there may be something seriously wrong.
Mary Anne
Article for Anemia for dogs was very helpful. My dog, I think, drank contaminated water from solution used to de-ice streets; Toronto uses beet juice as a component, as do some dog foods. He ended up with a systemic infection which included an anemic affect. After veterinary assistance he has beat most of the effects but a loss of protein in kidneys. He is doing well now but still periodically shows signs of anemia. Thank you for this impressive article.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hello Mary Anne,

We are glad we can help and we wish all the best for your dog's recovery.
Bill Cockrill
mk yorkie is diagnosed with anemia but the vet gave no instructions for feeding. The blood tests show an extremely low white count and not too many red. Xrays and other tests show nothing. weight loss from about 10 1/2 lbs to approx. 8now. Want a good diet to help build back up.
Eddie Reynoza
My 8 year old meduim size chihuahua went through the vet with x-rays ivs meds when i picked him up he looked great. When I took him in he could not even walk his heart was beating fast and then slow at the vet as he was getting his treatment. The internet is full of info on how to treat and get rid of anemia. It is caused by lack of iron in the bloodstream, suffering from malnutrition and lack of vitamins and proteins. Butcher fed raw grass liver he loves and my Boots is doing great! dogs need lots of sun also. Liver raw has vitamin a and several b vitamins, coq10, trace minerals, plenty of iron. Iron foods>> calf liver, lamb meat, ox meat, salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines, beans, cockles. Vitamin c >>peppers, cantaloupe, califlower, spinich, raw cabbage. Ask the doctor questions as well as the staff at the vet thats what they get paid for and they love there work.
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Diet and Care for Dogs with Anemia