Hereditary spherocytosis (HS) is a form of hemolytic anemia characterized by an abnormal spherical shape of red blood cells and their increased permeability to sodium ions. Spherocytes are approximately two-thirds the diameter of normal red blood cells. These abnormalities are believed to result from the defects in the peripheral erythrocyte membrane protein spectrin. Because of these multiple defects, sperocytes are easily destroyed leading to hemolytic anemia. Anemia may be mild, moderate, sever, or not present at all. Severe hemolytic anemia requires red blood cell transfusions. Affected animals have enlarged spleen. In the Golden Retriever the disease is inherited. The non-hereditary spherocytosis can be caused by genetic mutations, nutritional deficiencies, and toxins such as onions, acetaminophen, methylene blue, daily intravenous injections of propofol in cats, phenothiazines, and dried red maple leaves.


  1. Slappendel RJ, van Zwieten R, van Leeuwen M, Schneijdenberg CT. Hereditary spectrin deficiency in Golden Retriever dogs. J Vet Intern Med. 2005 Mar-Apr;19(2):187-92
  2. Congenital spherocytic anemia (MedlinePlus)
  3. Gailene Holland, DVM; Paula M. Krimer, DVM, DVSc; Bruce E. LeRoy, DVM, PhD; and Kenneth S. Latimer, DVM, PhD. Spherocytosis: A Brief Overview


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