Iron Supplements for Anemic Dogs & Cats

Author: Dr.Cheryl Dobson   Title: DVM, DACVD    Jan. 24th, 2023

We present a guide that will help you learn a little more about a topic that can be of concern to many pet owners.

Sometimes, our furry friends may be exposed to suffering from this iron deficiency disease.

That is why we have brought you the necessary tools to help you deal with this type of situation.

In addition, we will also give you some tips that can help you to prevent this disease.

In case your pet already suffers from it, to take care of it and cope with the situation calmly.

Are you ready to fill yourself with information that could save your pet’s life?

Well, let’s get started:

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia in Dogs?

There are different types of anemia that can affect your pet’s quality of life, but one of the most common is iron deficiency anemia.

It is a type of anemia that decreases the amount of red blood cells needed for your pet’s body to function properly.

Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to all the tissues in the body, which is why they play such an important role.

Iron is vital for hemoglobin to exist.

Without this essential resource that your pet needs, his body will be exposed to this type of disease.

In short, it is a considerable deficiency of iron in your dog’s body that does not allow him to have a good quality of life.

Iron Deficiency in Dog Causes

There are several causes that can trigger iron deficiency anemia in your pet.

Such as severe and exaggerated blood loss caused by injury, internal or external bleeding, ulcers, tumors, trauma or even a parasite that completely affects the digestive tract.

However, there are also some other possible causes that contribute to the severity of anemia.

If your dog has had a deficiency of vitamins, minerals, proteins, that is, an unhealthy and unbalanced diet can lead to this type of anemia.

That is why it is so important to feed our furry friends with a healthy diet rich in all the nutrients their body needs.

Although you do not feel guilty, since not everything is the fault of a poor or unhealthy diet.

There are people who feed their pets with the best nutritional supplements that their body requires.

But your pet may suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, which does not allow proper absorption of iron in the blood.

There may also be the possibility that your pet’s body is demanding much more iron than it is already being fed, this happens when there is a growth spurt.

Or when a bitch is in her gestation period. Since those are the most vulnerable moments where the organism will need much more iron.

And last but not least, it can also be caused by the destruction of red blood cells by the same immune system as your dog.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency in Dogs

In general, the symptoms of this disease can be quite varied.

As it depends specifically on the severity and cause that has led to your pet having a noticeable iron deficiency.

When iron deficiency begins to take its toll on your furry friend’s body, you will quickly notice strange behavior and a radical change.

So if you notice the following symptoms in your pet, it is best to take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

1. If your pet is very active and playful, you will notice that he is weak, overtired all the time, without energy and somewhat apathetic towards everything, even games.

2. You may notice that his mucous membranes show a pale color that he did not have before.

The mucous membranes are the gums, ears or eyelids.

3. Although it is a symptom that we cannot easily detect ourselves, he may also present an accelerated heart rate for no apparent reason.

4. Shortness of breath, in other words, will show dyspnea.

5. Loss of weight and appetite. This is a very common symptom and may help you suspect that something is wrong.

6. Intolerance to physical efforts, or intolerant to very cold environments.

7. If you notice that your dog begins to have a change in the color of his eyes and skin that turns yellowish.

It means that the bilirubin has risen. It is also a frequent symptom

Iron Deficiency in Dog Diagnosis

In order to have a more accurate diagnosis and thus know if our pet has iron deficiency.

It is required to have its clinical history, a physical examination.

And also blood tests in the laboratory in order to carry out the following procedures.

Blood analysis

It measures the amount of red blood cells in the blood, their different sizes and the level of hemoglobin and hematocrit.

If your pet has hematocrit values that vary between 39% and 60%, and for hemoglobin 12 or 18g/dL, then it is within the normal range.

On the other hand, if hematocrit values are below 39% and hemoglobin below 12g/dL then it is indicative of iron deficiency anemia.

Biochemical profile

This test measures the level of iron and ferritin in the serum.

Ferritin is the protein that stores iron in your pet’s body.

If low levels of both are found, then ferritin deficiency is present.

Blood Smear

It is the procedure in which the red blood cells are observed from the microscope to analyze their shape and color.

When there is the presence of iron deficiency anemia.

Then microcytic and hypochromic red blood cells with a light colored center can be observed.


To perform a biopsy it is important to extract a small sample of the tissue.

Where the red blood cells are found to be observed under the microscope.

This test is one of the most accurate, as it can easily detect iron deficiency in bone marrow.

How much iron does a Dog Need Daily?

To treat iron deficiency anemia in your pet more effectively, it is necessary that iron-rich foods.

Such as red meats, eggs, whole grains, organ meats, among others, are included in his diet on a daily basis.

Veterinarians recommend an intake of 35mg of iron per pound of dog food.

But for dogs with iron deficiency anemia, a daily intake of 80mg/kg of body weight is necessary to counteract the negative effects of this disease.

Iron Supplement for Dogs Dosage

An adequate dosage depends a lot on different factors.

Such as, for example, your pet’s body weight, age, physiological state and also the reason for the presence of anemia.

Iron supplements can be administered orally or injected into your pet.

You can see the recommend dosage in the picture.

It is important to follow the veterinarian’s rules in order to avoid overdosing our furry friends, as too much iron is harmful to the body.

Some of the recommended iron supplements for dogs are ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate and many more.

Dog Iron Deficiency Anemia Treatment

As explained above, there are several factors that depend on the cause and severity of the disease.

As it is for this case when it comes to explaining the treatment.

However, below, we will give you some tips on how to take care of your pet from the comfort of your home and give him what he needs:

Oral iron supplements

Offer injectable or oral iron supplements to avoid the wear and tear caused by such disease.

Always remember that it is very important to consult with someone specialized in the subject.

A veterinarian will be the one to offer the best solutions to your problem and different treatment options to help your pet.

Balanced diet

Keeping your dog on a balanced diet with the minerals it needs is paramount.

It requires a healthy diet rich in iron-containing foods.

In addition, you also have the option of adding other supplements, such as vitamin B12 or folic acid.

They can help your dog’s body to promote the growth of red blood cells and strengthen the immune system.

Blood transfusion

Control the cause of the iron deficiency.

This may mean that if necessary, your pet should undergo surgery, medication or simply a blood transfusion.

It all depends on how severe it is.

Physical examination

And finally, you should constantly perform medical check-ups on your furry friend.

As it will help you know for sure if you need to readjust the dosage,

analyze if the treatment is having an effect, etc.

Can I give my Dog Human Iron Supplements?

Giving your pet iron supplements to humans could be a double-edged sword.

It is not recommended as these supplements may contain too high doses that the dog’s body could not withstand.

Or it may also contain ingredients that are harmful to them and may cause poisoning.

Poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains or even shock.

Iron Supplement for Pregnant Dog

The increased risk of iron deficiency anemia in pregnant bitches is considerably high.

As during this long and painful process, they must keep their iron levels stable in order to have strong and healthy puppies.

Otherwise, iron deficiency can negatively affect her health and that of her litter.

Therefore, the best supplementation that can be offered to pregnant bitches is a healthy, balanced diet that contains the food, nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for her body.

However, in some cases a healthy diet will not be enough.

So it will be necessary to administer iron supplements so that they can improve their quality of life and also improve iron absorption.

But it is extremely important that you consult with a veterinarian, as he will be the one to indicate the type of supplement that the dog needs.

Side Effects of Iron Supplements for Dogs

Iron side effects in dogs can only be triggered when there is an overdose of supplements and without veterinary control.

The symptoms they present are severe and require urgent veterinary attention.

When intoxication occurs by accident or overdose, the following symptoms may occur:

Vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, convulsions, lethargy, shock.

If we do not want to see our small canine friends suffer, we must always be attentive to the indications of our veterinarian.

To avoid cases like these that could scare anyone. Iron intoxication is fatal and should not be ignored.

How is iron overdose treated in dogs?

It is necessary to act quickly when witnessing iron overdose in our pets.

Otherwise, it could cause irreparable and painful effects.

So depending on the severity and stage of the poisoning, we must perform the following steps:

Induce vomiting

If your pet is stable but you know that it has ingested more than required, it is necessary to induce vomiting.

You can use hydrogen peroxide or syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting quickly.

It is an easy and quick way to save your furry friend’s life.

Iiron chelator

There is the possibility that your dog will eliminate the toxins through urine.

For this, you should administer an iron chelator (such as deferoxamine or deferiprone).

It can be administered orally or intravenously.

Gastric protection

You also have the option of providing gastric protection to reduce the damage caused by overdose.

Take your pet urgently to the veterinarian to be in the hands of professionals to handle the case.

Do not wait for the symptoms to worsen before taking action.

What are the Best Sources of Iron and Beneficial Dog Foods?

You can find the best iron supplements and rich sources of this mineral in foods.

That will help your pet to raise iron levels and thus have a stable diet and life.

The most iron-rich foods are sardines, red meats, eggs (specifically the yolk), liver, as it has a high iron content and is rich in vitamin A, omega 3, selenium, etc.

Green vegetables such as thorns or broccoli are also a natural source of iron, so it is a great option to add to your pet’s diet.

Clams are also part of these iron sources.

However, your pet also needs other supplements to supplement its diet, such as vitamins. Fruits such as apples, bananas and watermelon are rich in B vitamins.

Oranges and strawberries are rich in vitamin C, and here’s a fun fact! Vitamin C aids in better iron absorption.

Final Thoughts

Regular veterinary visits will be necessary to administer iron injections to your dog for a period of up to two months.

Following this, you will need to continue with oral medication for an additional one to two months.

To monitor your dog’s progress, frequent clinical tests will be conducted, including complete blood count assessments every one to four weeks.

It is important to follow the recommended treatment plan and maintain close communication with your veterinarian throughout the process.

To ensure the best results, it is recommended to use trusted and recommended oral iron supplement.

Such as our Iron Supplements for Dogs & Cats with Anemia.

The majority of our customers observe a favorable change in their pets within a month of using our product regularly and correctly.

Cheryl Dobson
Cheryl DobsonDVM, DACVD
The author of this post: Dr.Cheryl Dobson is a highly respected canine veterinarian with over 10 years of experience in the field. She has dedicated her life to advancing veterinary medicine and improving the lives of countless animals through her exceptional care and expertise.