The severity of the condition will depend on the amount of iron you have lost from your diet/body.
Iron deficiency can also occur in the brain.
How can iron deficiency become severe?
While you and your dog’s body will continue to absorb iron throughout the day, you will notice some symptoms during the evening hours. It begins with mild to moderate signs of a deficiency, such as a dull and/or cloudy vision, tingling/tingling sensations/tremors, decreased blood flow in the arms, legs, and head, and increased panting, coughing, or weak or irregular heartbeats.
The signs and symptoms may get worse with exercise or the onset of a cold or flu, and could worsen with the onset of other medical issues, such as congestive heart failure or anemia. Even milder signs may worsen with time.
Iron deficiency causes the body to produce less and less of an enzyme called thiol (iron oxide), especially when you eat a diet higher in animal proteins than what your dog requires. Also, the amount of iron you lose through digestion and absorption is not sufficient to replenish your body’s deficiency.
Why do dogs who are iron deficient develop the signs and symptoms?
Iron deficiency is caused by an imbalance of the normal body functions of iron and sodium, as the body doesn’t have enough iron to compensate for the loss of sodium. Without enough iron for your dog’s needs, her heart and kidneys won’t be able to break down the mineral.
The causes of iron deficiency include:
Not enough eating (also called “excessive snacking”);
High levels of iron in the diet or animal fats (for example, from animal flesh);
Methamphetamines (methylene blue);
Chemical toxins (such as those found in some pesticides);
Hemolytic anemia (when the body doesn’t make enough red and white blood cells);
Treatment for iron deficiency in dogs
The first thing you need to do if you are worried about your dog or cat developing iron deficiency is to check with your veterinarian and get answers regarding your dog’s diet and body. Make sure you include the following details:
Dogs under 1 year old typically do not develop iron deficiency on their own, but may require special diets to help prevent iron deficiency.
Anemia may be especially severe in the morning.
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