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Anaemia Notes

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1. Introduction Anaemia is a common clinical presentation, but is not a diagnosis itself. Anaemia is defined as a situation in which the total erythron mass in peripheral blood is depleted below reference values. The three basic variables of erythron that determine whether an animal is anaemic are:

Haemoglobin Packed cell volume (PCV) or haematocrit Red blood cell count

Red blood cell count is the least accurate of these measures. Haemoglobin concentration will be falsely high in lipaemic samples. Dehydrated animals will have a contracted plasma volume and so an increased PCV - this could mean the animal has a masked anaemia. Anaemia can be classed as regenerative or not regenerative. The causes of both types of anaemia are as follows:

There will be some normal variation between individuals and reference ranges, such as:

Certain breeds have naturally lower PCV - poodles and greyhounds. Medication such as sedation and anaesthesia may decrease PCV. Pregnancy will decrease red blood cell count, PCV and haemoglobin. Stress or excitement will increase PCV, haemoglobin and red blood cell count. Puppies under 6 months old have a lower red blood cell count, haemoglobin and PCV.

Clinical signs of anaemia include:

Signs of inadequate tissue oxygenation
- Pale mucous membranes
- Exercise intolerance, weakness, lethargy, inappetance or anorexia. Signs of compensatory mechanisms
- Tachypnoea or dyspnoea

- Tachycardia, rapid weak pulse, heart murmur Other potential signs
- Icterus, haemorrhage, melena, haematuria
- Pain, pica (cats)
- Spleno or hepatomegaly, lymphadenopathy

The severity of clinical signs reflects the chronicity of anaemia, not the degree of anaemia. Guidelines for interpreting severity of anaemia are as follows: Normal Mild anaemia Moderate anaemia Severe anaemia

PCV dog 40-50%

PCV cat 30-40%

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