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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
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Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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If a dog develops Heinz body anemia from regularly eating onion

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If a dog develops Heinz body anemia from regularly eating onion rings, if no more onions are ever given the dog, will the Heinz bodies in the blood eventually resolve with time?

Hello, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with you today.

Heinz body anemia is essentially a drop in red blood cell numbers due to the red blood cells suffering oxidative damage (the "Heinz body" being a little pocket of hemoglobin on the cell's side). There are a range of agents, like onions, that can induce Heinz body formation and when this type of damage occurs the cells become more fragile, more likely to pop in circulation, and therefore the increased liklihood of anemia.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX question, if the agent inducing this oxidative damage is removed from the situation (ie no more onion rings and there residual effect leaves the body), then the continual damage to the red blood cells and subsequent anemia would stop. Those cells already affected might still die off prematurely; but the new red blood cells that the body would be producing would not be at risk of this (since they'd not be in contact with that agent like prior cells had been) and would be able to live a normal red cell life span.

So, if the trigger for his development of Heinz bodies has been identified, then removing the agent should lead to an eventual recovery from this type of anemia.Your vet may also treat him with anti-oxidants to limit the risk of lingering 'toxin' harming more cells. And as he replenishes his red blood cells in an environment free of the trigger, we'd expect to see a decline in Heinz bodies in his blood smear and a return to normal blood cell appearance and levels .

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

Dr. B.


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Hi Nathan,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. B.