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Medical Index
First Posted: Mar 16, 2010
Sep 1, 2012

Anemia in Horses aka Hemoglobin (lack of)

by Debora Johnson

Just what is anemia in horses? It is a shortage of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein found in the blood. Its function is to transport oxygen from the lungs to through the blood. Anemia in horses: blood loss; increased red blood cell destruction and inadequate red blood cell production. Anemia is an outcome of some other health issue.


  • Weakness
  • lethargy
  • Appetite loss
  • Lack of thriftiness
  • Change in hair appearance
  • Mucous membrane color changes
  • Heart murmur
  • Poor performance/exercise intolerance
  • Edema
  • Death


There can be a number of causes of anemia in horses. The following are a few of the most common causes:


It is not difficult to diagnose anemia. The vet can draw blood and have a corpuscle count done, both white and red.


Once anemia has been diagnosed then it is imperative to find out what is causing it. If there is blood loss then the loss must be stopped. If the anemia is the outcome of a poor diet or a diet deficient in iron the vet most likely will prescribe a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Supplements may also be added. Rest and lack of stress are part of the cure for anemia. It usually takes at least a month before the blood shows satisfactory improvement.

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Medical Index