What is High Levels of Plasma Protein in the Blood?
Your dog’s protein level indicates many things such as kidney and liver functions. The proteins in the blood are actually very important to your dog’s health because they bring essential nutrients, hormones, vitamins to the cells and help fight disease. When the level of proteins in your dog’s blood is elevated, that is a sign that there is something wrong. It could be diarrhea, fever, vomiting, chronic inflammation, and tumors. If your dog’s veterinarian notices an elevation in proteins in the blood, he will run more tests to determine the problem so it can be treated before it gets any worse.
A high level of plasma proteins in the blood is caused by hyperproteinemia, which can be a sign of many illnesses, both mild and serious, such as infection, dehydration, and lymphocytic leukemia. A high level of protein is usually a signal for more tests and examination to determine the underlying illness or disease.
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Symptoms of High Levels of Plasma Protein in the Blood in Dogs
- Extreme thirst
- Increased urination
- Irregular heartbeat
- Excessive sleepiness
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Deteriorating vision due to retinal hemorrhages and inflamed blood vessels in the retina
- Nose bleeding for no obvious reason
Causes of High Levels of Plasma Protein in the Blood in Dogs
- Lymphocytic hyperproteinemia is caused by a problem in your dog’s lymphocytic system, which are usually lymphoma or leukemia
- Cancerous hyperproteinemia indicates multiple myeloma or a tumor
- Chronic Autoimmune Disease is caused by rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
Diagnosis of High Levels of Plasma Protein in the Blood in Dogs
The first thing your dog’s veterinarian will do is examine your dog carefully from head to tail, looking for any signs of infection, swelling, skin discoloration, tumors, lesions, and other abnormalities. After the examination, he will do some tests to determine what should be done next. These tests include:
- Serum electrophoresis (SPEP) to find individual blood proteins in the blood
- Complete blood count (CBC) to check the amount of each type of cell in the bloodstream, hemoglobin level, and amount of oxygen
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) to find the amount of nitrogen in the bloodstream
- Blood gas levels
- Chemical panel for albumin, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bilirubin, calcium, cholesterol, creatinine, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium levels
- Urinalysis to check the color, clarity, and concentration
- Digital radiographs (x-ray) to find any abnormalities or tumors
The veterinarian may also decide to do an ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI to determine the amount of damage or placement of tumors. If your veterinarian suspects multiple myeloma or leukemia, they will need to extract some bone marrow for further testing.
Treatment of High Levels of Plasma Protein in the Blood in Dogs
The first part of treatment for high levels of protein in the blood is to lower those proteins with IV fluid therapy. This will usually be done in the hospital where your dog can be monitored. The veterinarian will also treat the underlying cause of the hyperproteinemia when it is determined.
If it is lymphocytic or cancerous, the goal will be to shrink the tumor and prevent any more from forming. This can be done with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy has its risks, of course, but the benefits are that it will keep your dog alive, reduce pain, increases healing, and reduces serum immunoglobulins. Some of the side effects are vomiting, diarrhea, and blood clotting problems. Radiation therapy has been known to have great results with dogs that have isolated tumors. It reduces pain and helps in stopping new tumor growth. Side effects are similar to chemotherapy, but can be controlled with medication.
Hospitalization is necessary for your dog if the vet suspects lupus. They will need to sedate your dog while they treat him with antibiotics, IV fluids, and immunosuppressive drugs. Once your dog is stable enough to go home, you will have to continue with the antibiotic and immunosuppressive medications and enforce a resting period daily in a cage if necessary. A special diet may also be prescribed that you will have to follow. Corticosteroids are commonly used as well to reduce the inflammation in your dog’s lymph nodes. Constant monitoring and frequent veterinarian trips will be necessary for the rest of your dog’s life.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a lifetime disease with no cure so your dog will have to be treated with medication and therapy for the rest of his life. Anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and corticosteroids are the medications commonly used by veterinarians to alieve the pain and swelling. Other medications known to benefit dogs with RA are salicylates and gold, which are treatments, used in humans.
Recovery of High Levels of Plasma Protein in the Blood in Dogs
If your dog is diagnosed with any of these illnesses, he will need a follow-up appointment with your veterinarian to check protein levels in the blood as well as other tests, depending on the nature of the illness. Chronic illnesses, such as cancer, lupus, and RA will have to be monitored carefully for the remainder of your dog’s life and frequent trips to see the veterinarian are essential.
High Levels of Plasma Protein in the Blood Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Gracie, my 8+ yr. old lab has developed seizures and a distended stomach...a full panel blood test was done and it showed her APL was 515 and protein level was 7.7.....she has been prescribed phenobarbital (1 grain) morning and night.... her seizures have slowed to once weekly and she has a good appetite and all other bodily functions are normal...in the past three years she has been treated for heartworms ( thanks to neglect from a previous owner) and has had a large tumor removed from her side. She appears to be ok but somewhat lethargic...I am on the 3rd vet now looking for answers without having to spend thousands of dollars...I love my girl very much and am hoping to find out what is going on...any suggestions would be greatly appreciated....thank you, Mary
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If my 14 year old male Shih Tzus blood panel indicates ALT at 248 U/L.... ALKP at 328 U/L...and GGT at 16 U/L... does that necessarily mean that he has cancer?
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