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Anemia Due to Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a glycoprotein hormone, produced in the kidneys, that controls the production of red blood cells. For development and maturation of red blood cells to take place, bone marrow requires an adequate supply of erythropoietin, so in cases of chronic kidney disease (CKD), where the kidney is unable to function well enough to produce adequate amounts of EPO, the marrow is likewise unable to produce an adequate supply of red blood cells. Lack of RBC production will inevitably lead to anemia in dogs that are suffering from this condition. Anemia due to CKD is usually seen in middle-aged to older dogs but can also occur in young dogs.

Symptoms and Types

Anemia in this case is principally related to chronic kidney disease. The symptoms are mixed, relating to both the CKD and the anemia. Following are some of the symptoms related to anemia in the presence of CKD:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Apathy (state of indifference)
  • Cold intolerance
  • Changes in behavior
  • Tachypnea (rapid breathing)
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Syncope (fainting)
  • Seizures


Following are some of the causes for chronic kidney failure and anemia:

  • Inherited
  • Congenital (pups born with the problem)
  • Acquired form ( in later life)
  • Iron deficiency
  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Blood loss through the alimentary tract (the entire canal from the mouth to the anus)
  • Diseases that cause disruption of RBCs


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, including a background history of symptoms. After taking a complete history, your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination on your dog. Laboratory tests will include a complete blood profile, a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. The results of these tests will provide valuable information for the diagnosis of the cause of the kidney failure and the extent of anemia related to it. Your veterinarian will be particularly interested in knowing the level of erythropoietin in the blood. Specific tests may be used to diagnose the underlying cause of the chronic kidney disease and resulting anemia. An examination of the bone marrow examination may be conducted to evaluate the structure and functions of the bone marrow. X-ray and ultrasound imaging will show any abnormal structure of the kidneys that is typical in chronic kidney disease, and ultrasound may reveal smaller than normal or irregular-shaped kidneys, both characteristic of chronic kidney disease.


The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness

blood pressure

The amount of pressure applied by the blood on the arteries.


The end of the gastrointestinal tract; the opening at the end of the tract.


A condition of the blood in which normal red blood cell counts or hemoglobin are lacking.

alimentary tract

Term refers to the system in the body that deals with the processing of food and nutrients in between the mouth and the anus; may also be referred to as the GI tract, the intestinal tract, or the gastrointestinal tract.