What does idiopathic mean?

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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