My 13.5 year old dog has been slightly anemic for over a year... he used to have low blood platelets (2.5 years ago) and

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My 13.5 year old dog has been slightly anemic for over a year... he used to have low blood platelets (2.5 years ago) and now high platelets ( from 9, to 51, to 400, to 575, then 875, 975, 375, now 687)


His current
RBC 3.8
HGB 9.1
HCT 26
MCV 69
MCH 23.9


Reticulocyte Total 1.1
Absolute Reticulocytes 41800


Could you please explain the significance and difference in Reticulocyte Total and Absolute Reticulocytes to me?


Also, how serious is the anemia?


Thanks for your time

Answered by Dr. Michael Salkin in 26 mins 9 years ago
Dr. Michael Salkin
48+ years of experience

130,062 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Dog Veterinary, Dog Medicine, Dog Diseases, Small Animal Veterinary

Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
Bone marrow effective erythropoiesis (manufacture of red blood cells) is primarily judged by its release of reticulocytes - immature red blood cells without nuclei. Bone marrow function should respond normally in blood loss or hemolytic anemia, and reticulocyte production should be increased in proportion to the severity of the anemia. Anemia with appropriately increased erythropoiesis is classified as regenerative anemia. A nonregenerative anemia is indicated by finding clearly less than an expected reticulocyte response for the time after onset of an anemia and the severity of the anemia.

The 1.1 indicates that 1.1% of erythrocytes are reticulocytes and that's normal...but we don't want normal, we want to see a marked degree of stimulation (21-50%) - in other words ,we want to see that Ben can replace the red blood cells he's lacking. The percentage of reticulocytes can be misleading, however, because the percentage is a ratio of reticulocytes to mature RBCs. In anemia, the mature RBCs are variably reduced, thus the reticulocyte percentage overestimates the hematopoietic response. The absolute reticulocyte count is calculated by multiplying the reticulocyte percentage by the RBC count, so it adjusts the reticulocyte percentage for the severity of the anemia. Absolute reticulocyte count is the most consistent indicator of bone marrow production and is recommended as the best single indicator of regeneration in the dog.
41,800 is less than what's considered "no degree of regeneration" - 60,000. A marked degree of regeneration is >500,000.

Hence, Ben's anemia is nonregenerative - as seen with inflammatory diseases, chronic renal disease, chronic hepatic disease, hypothyroidism, hypoadrenocorticism, many bone marrow disorders - including malignancies, drug-induced hematologic dyscrasia, and various infections. His anemia is moderate - a normal HCT ranges between 35 and 52.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.


Thanks Dr Salkin.


His RBC , HGB and HCT have been this low before and have gone up to slightly below normal and now back down, this last blood test has been the only test that showed reticulocytes because the lab decided to add it on...


So the next blood test I will request reticulocytes... if Ben can start to get better, I should look for <60,000, correct ?


Also, the Antech Blood Test gave a reference range of 0-1% for normal and rated Ben as high at 1.1% Reticulocyte Total... this differs from your answer as normal and needing to be (21-50%) ...

You'd like to see much more than 60,000. Here are the guidelines with the understanding that different labs have different criteria...

Degree of regeneration (absolute - the best way to assess erythropoiesis)
none 60,000
slight 150,000
moderate 300,000
marked >500,000

Degree of regeneration (percentage - not a good way to assess erythropoiesis)
normal 1
slight 1-4
moderate 5-20
marked 21-50

1.1% would only be considered "high" in a dog that's not anemic - not needing to manufacture extra reticulocytes.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

You may receive an inappropriate follow-up from the site ostensibly sent by me. It wasn't and I apologize in advance should you receive it.

Please disregard the info request.

Thanks so much for your detailed responses Dr Salkin. I very much appreciate your help!

With gratitude,

Sunny :-)

It's my pleasure, Sunny. My best to Ben.
Hi Sunny, I'm just following up on our conversation about Ben. How is everything going? bigislandvet

Hi Dr Salkin

Thank you so much for the follow up!

I am giving Ben a supplement called Prohemia ( usually for people, EPO-Canine is for dogs from the same company in case you want to google)... It seems to be helping because his gums and tongue are much pinker and he has more energy. I will keep you posted and will get another blood test in 2 weeks to see if he is getting better.

Thank you again for checking.


Sunny :-)

Thank you for the up on Prohemia. Looks promising!

Please disregard the info request.
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Dr. Michael Salkin
130,062 satisfied customers
48+ years of experience
Dr. Michael Salkin
48+ years of experience

130,062 satisfied customers



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31,131 satisfied customers

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