What does idiopathic mean?


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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – my dog is in the hospital. He is anemic and my vet keeps using the word "idiopathic" something or other. What does the word idiopathic in dogs mean?

October W.


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote asking what does the medial term idiopathic mean? It is a common term used in medicine to indicate that the underlying cause for something is not found.

For example – idiopathic immune mediated hemolytic anemia means that the dog has immune mediated hemolytic anemia but we don't know why.

An article that might be helpful to you is Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs (IMHA), Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for PetPlace.com, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.