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What is Low Blood Albumin?

Low blood albumin can occur because of a loss of protein due to damage in the intestines or in the urine because of kidney disease, or the lack of production of it due to liver damage. Most often it is associated with chronic protein loss due to an underlying disease. Albumin needs to be properly balanced; this is required to keep fluid from leaking out of the blood vessels and then accumulating in the abdomen or lungs. This condition is not breed, age or gender specific.

Low blood albumin is also known as hypoalbuminemia. Albumin is a protein in the body which is made in the liver. It’s purpose is to transport molecules but more importantly, keep fluid from leaking into other tissues in the body. Low blood albumin in dogs can be the result of numerous medical conditions.

Low Blood Albumin Average Cost

From 73 quotes ranging from $500 - $12,000

Average Cost

$6,000

Symptoms of Low Blood Albumin in Dogs

Hypoalbuminemia usually develops alongside an accompanying condition and can mean there is liver or kidney damage, or an issue with the intestines. It can be a chronic problem, or occur very quickly. Symptoms of this complication include:

  • Swelling of extremities, such as legs and paws
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Distended abdomen
  • Breathing difficulty
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Causes of Low Blood Albumin in Dogs

Hypoalbuminemia can result as a decrease in the ingestion of protein, a loss of protein through the gut or kidney, or by a failure of the liver to produce protein (therefore causing blood albumin levels to decline). These complications can result from the following underlying causes:

  • Malnutrition (thus a decrease in ingestion of the protein)
  • Cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (produces a loss of protein)
  • Protein losing enteropathy as a result of a parasite, gastritis or colitis
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Malabsorption of nutrients from food
  • Severe infection
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heavy blood loss
  • Fungal disease
  • Large volume of fluid in the abdomen (chronic)
  • Burns that are severe, resulting in an albumin loss from the skin.
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Diagnosis of Low Blood Albumin in Dogs

You may be bringing your dog to the veterinarian for a regular annual checkup, and routine blood work shows a low albumin level. Or perhaps your pet is showing signs of illness and a visit to the clinic is needed to diagnose the problem. With low blood albumin, it is necessary to rule out the causes of the condition, one by one in order to make a correct diagnosis.

The diagnosis will begin with a physical exam and bloodwork. Be prepared to relay any symptoms or behavioral changes you may have noticed in your pet. Further tests after the initial examination could include urinalysis to see if protein is being lost in the urine. An abdominal ultrasound may be done to see if there is a fluid accumulation in the abdomen. As well, x-rays will reveal fluid in the lungs, if this is the case.

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Treatment of Low Blood Albumin in Dogs

The immediate treatment of your dog will depend on the condition they are in upon entering the emergency room or clinic. An overnight stay or hospitalisation for a few days may be required if your pet is in a crisis state, because stabilisation of blood levels and vital signs will be necessary. Intravenous could be of urgency if your pet is undernourished or dehydrated. If there is the presence of pulmonary edema (accumulation of fluid in the lungs) or ascites (buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity), procedures to drain them will commence.

Depending on the diagnosis, method of treatment or medication prescribed will vary. For example, the regimen for pancreatitis might include enzyme supplementation, while a diagnosis of cancer or kidney disease (which can mean a loss of protein through the kidney) will follow completely different protocols. Liver or kidney failure are much more problematic and the prognosis can be poor.

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Recovery of Low Blood Albumin in Dogs

The management and recovery of hypoalbuminemia will depend solely on the underlying cause of the condition. Causes such as an infection or gastritis will have a more positive outcome and an easier resolution than a diagnosis of cancer or liver disease. Management of your pet’s illness might include medication, dietary changes and long term medicinal treatment. Regular follow up appointments in any case will be needed. The veterinarian will want to verify that your pet is in continued good health by checking your dog’s albumin levels and verifying that no fluid remains or that accumulation is not a recurring issue.

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Low Blood Albumin Average Cost

From 73 quotes ranging from $500 - $12,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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Low Blood Albumin Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Jenna

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Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Low Energy
Low Albumin
Low Calcium

Jenna has been staying at the vet for 4 days now. She went in with low spirits. We thought it was her allergies acting up. However the Vet did a blood work and she had low calcium low white blood cells and her albumin was 2.2. Two days later he did another blood work and now her albumin has lowered to 1.7.

Sept. 10, 2018

Jenna's Owner

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DM

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Pembroke Welsh Corgi

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Significant Distention Of Abdomen,
Marginally Lower Protien In Blood
Marginally Lower Albumin In Blood

My corgi weaned a litter of puppies the beginning of July. She was a bit underweight but was eating well and drinking well. Toward the end of July we began to see an increase in her abdomen. After ruling out gorging and uptake in water intake, we took her to our vet. She has significant distention of her abdomen but no other symtoms. She is not lethargic, still wants to be a part of our ball throwing and running each night. Our regular vet says that her heart sounds great, no signs of parasites, etc but her bloodwork shows that her protein and albumin are low. Sample of the fluid from her abdomen doesn't show any type of infection and all other bloodwork is normal. We have a referal from our vet to specialty clinic and have the earlies appointment scheduled for further testing, xrays, and ultrasound but I am trying to find out more of what may have caused this and what to expect at our appointment. The only difference from her first litter to this one after weaning is an obvious change in the texture and color of the dog food that we normally buy. No change in ingredients or percentages but a definite change in look, texture and smell. I have since quit feeding her the food and changed it. It may be wishful thinking but I believe there is a slight decrease in her abdomen since the switch.

Aug. 29, 2018

DM's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There are three basic causes of low protein - kidney disease, liver disease, and intestinal disease. It may be a good idea to have a fecal sample checked for her, as intestinal parasites can cause that problem, and having puppies can cause intestinal parasites to migrate. I hope that all goes well for DM.

Aug. 29, 2018

No parasites on fecal. Neg on heartworm test as well. Thank you for the information. I am trying to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Aug. 29, 2018

DM's Owner

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Wiggles

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Maltese

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11 Days

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Low Albumin

My dog had low albumin of 1.1 on a routine blood test. Globulin of 4.0. The Internal Medicine doctor performed an ultrasound and additional blood work. Ultrasound normal. Albumin at 2.1. All kidney and liver blood work good. No digestive issues. No fluid. He is a Maltese which I’ve seen mentioned a few times on here. Could certain breeds naturally have lower albumin and nothing wrong with them?

July 9, 2018

Wiggles' Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

There are various causes for low albumin (see link below), 1.1g/dL is low but 2.1g/dL is just below reference range (2.3–3.1g/dL); I cannot say what the specific cause of the low albumin is since there are many causes including intestinal loss, kidney loss, pancreatic disorders, liver disease among many other causes. I’m not aware of any specific literature regarding low albumin in certain breeds, however another blood test would be useful to see if the albumin returns to normal or decreases again. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.idexx.eu/globalassets/documents/parameters/8088-us-albumin-interpretive-summary.pdf

July 9, 2018

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Kleo

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Samoyed

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite
Loss Of Mass

My dog has a low alb levels he has build up fluid in abdomen, all of the test that we perform shown that his liver is damaged and how he ia in hospital and he is having IV with some proteins that should elevate albumin levels.My guestion is I am from Macedonia and there ia no technology in my country for transfusion on dogs or blood pasma to be giving he only can get iv with proteins I wanted to if there is any kind of pills for low albumin and if there is which one and what other things I can do help my dog I love him so much and I would gave him my blood and organs if I could to hel him.And is it possible that my dog is possined? Thank you

April 3, 2018

Kleo's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without knowing more about Kleo's labwork and clinical signs, I can't comment on whether he may have been poisoned, but it would make a difference if his liver damage seems acute or chronic. You can't replace albumin in large quantities - if the liver damage has caused a decrease in the production of albumin, the liver needs to repair and start producing albumin. It sounds like your veterinarian is doing everything that they can, and there are medications that he can be on to support his liver function - Denamarin is one of them. It isn't an albumin supplement, but it supports liver function. I hope that he is okay.

April 3, 2018

Can someone tell me what to do thanks. And also he has chronic gastritis and anemia beside the liver disease. We made all the tests eho,blood exams, biochemical exams, xrays,serum blood exam and he had elevated ast,ald that shown that the liver values are elevated everything else was fine. We managed to drop down the results with sylimarin and liveril,bcomlex,and special diet and he was getting better now he is having problems with the albumin his albumin is 5 and it should be 50,he is on iv with synthetic proteins for two days and he is in hospital,we don't have any technology as I mentioned in Macedonia, so how can I help my dog I read for rhis medicine same S adenosyl methonine and I trying to find in Greece so is that medicine ok here in my country they don't know what is that and I also find this super albumin pills from amazon I can order them and they would be here for like month and half so I don't know what to do can someone please tell me. Thank you

April 3, 2018

Kleo's Owner

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Remi

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toy poodle

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weakness
Vomiting
Nausea
Bloody Stool
Refuses Food
Abdomine Pain

We took Remi to the vet four days ago after a series of vomiting and bad diarrhea that occurred early that morning. We found him sleeping by the bathroom after discovering three random spots he vomited over the night. When at the vet, he refused to eat a treat offered to him (which he never refused in the past). Also, he made random adjustments to his posture during the examination - which the vet said was a sign of abdominal pain. After his temperature was taken (which was low) and a further rectal examination, he suddenly had bloody diarrhea. The vet took a couple of x-rays and a blood test. X-rays revealed nothing, except the vet noted his liver is quite small. The blood test showed low levels of protein; and, after further analysis, his albumin level was at 1.7 (he's 3.8 kg). The vet decided to hospitalize him to ensure he got enough fluids as well as to monitor him further. They gave him a shot/IV fluid to help w/ his nasuea. Additionally, they gave him half a pack of plasma transfusion to boost his albumin levels. Later that day, they did an ultrasound. The small intestines appeared oddly rippled and at the entrypoint they saw a black mass which they thought was a build up of excess fluids. After consulting with their team, they felt it was most likely Remi had consumed a foreign object and should undergo surgery. They told us of all possible outcomes and we agreed to the surgery. Post surgery, it turned out there was no foreign object. They "explored" the area and found nothing abnormal beyond a minor build up of plaque in the intestines which they took as a sample and sent for a biopsy. Otherwise, Remi came out of surgery as good as possible. Day 2 Hospitalization: Remi was very weak, tired and refused to eat. They gave him the remaining half pack of plasma post-op. There was no improvement in his albumin levels. He appeared in a lot of pain. Day 3 Hospitalization: Remi was weak, tired and continued to refuse to eat. He threw up again during the day. He received some synthetic protein. His albumin levels actually decreased to 1.1. His belly area appeared bloated - but the vets noted this can happen due to post-op/anesthesia and a build-up of fluids in the body. We walked him for the first time during our evening visit. He was slow, but walked. During our walk, his stool was liquidy/soft but and dark brown. Day 4 Hospitalization: During our morning visit, the vet mentioned that he may have an infection of the pancreas. He received another two doses of plasma to boost his albumin levels, which are now 1.4. He also had a chest x-ray to see if he had any fluids in his lungs - which there was none. He had more energy and walked with us during our evening visit at a rapid pace. He did not eat from us - even when lunch meat was offered (which the vet okayed). Again during our walk, his stool was soft but and dark brown but firmer this time. Could there be any other causes for what is happening w/ Remi? Are there questions that we should ask the vert that we've missed? What can we do after he is released from the hospital to ensure he maintains appropriate/healthy levels of albumin - What foods would you recommend? Thanks!

March 5, 2018

Remi's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that remi is having these problems! It seems that your veterinary team is doing a great job managing his disease, and without examining him, I can't really add anything to what they are already doing. They'll be able to advise you on the proper diet for him once he is discharged, as well as any after care that he may need. I hope that he continues to improve.

March 6, 2018

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Louie

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Schnauzer-Poodle

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My 7 year male,Schoodle, Louie, started with Ascites 2 months ago, blood work, low albumin,1.1-low hemoglobin-10.4,low hematocrit-31.7,low platelet-61. I told the vet i cant aford anymore tests if he won't be living too much longer based on the blood work,I also don't want to put him through tests. The vet said I can keep him comfortable but his life expectancy is very short. I've chosen to put him down this week since he is having breathing issues due to extreme ascites. Does anyone have an opinion?

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Myllie

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Extremities

I noticed my German Shepherd, Myllie, has notable swelling in her extremities. After a trip to the vet, blood work, urine sample, and abdominal xray her diagnosis is Hypoalbuminemia. She was prescribed metronidazole 500mg twice a day. After the vet didn't find a cause for the low protein this was the recommended treatment.

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Law

dog-breed-icon

cockapoo

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Abdomen
Vomiting
Lack Of Appetite

About a month ago, our dog came down with what appeared to be gastritis. After a few days of vomiting he became very picky and wouldn’t eat or drink much. To avoid dehydration, I fed him syringes of chicken broth, etc. For two weeks his lack of appetite continued, and he had very sporadic vomiting but nothing that we could pinpoint as a pattern. He was rechecked and our vet diagnosed him as having developed chronic gastritis. He prescribed Prilosec daily and said it may help him keep food down. As our dogs appetite improved we have seen less vomiting episodes, but this past week his abdomen began to swell. His appetite, energy levels, and demeanor are all totally normal. He has been going to the bathroom without any issue, so our vet said to just keep an eye on him. Today he vomited and I immediately brought him in. Xrays showed no enlarged organs/heart issues, CBC showed a low albumin level of 1. No signs of infection. Urinalysis showed what my vet described as an incredible amount of protein in the urine, I believe he said a value of 1,000. Glomerulonephritis is what he suspects, but recommended we see an internist or other specialist that can do an ultrasound. He did not give us any instructions or ways to raise the albumin levels at home, only an antibiotic in the event he has any infection in the kidneys that would worsen the problem. I am completely devastated. I know seeing a specialist will give us answers, but what exactly are they looking for? If this diagnosis is confirmed, can we expect to manage the condition or is it a terminal diagnosis? I do not want to put my dog through unnecessary tests/unfamiliar places only to be told there’s nothing we can do. He is still happy, eating well, and isn’t having issues breathing due to the Ascites.

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Maddie

dog-breed-icon

Jack Russell Terrier

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

No Real Symptoms

My 15 year old Jack Russell has low protein in bloodwork and protein is high in urine. She has been taking Enalapril for almost a year for the protein levels in her urine. Protein levels have been going up in urine. What would you recommend? As stated, she is 15 years old...should I do further testing? Is there something else I can do?

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Tyson

dog-breed-icon

pomeraninan

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

No Symptoms That I Can See

I have a 11 yr of Pomeranian. I took him to doctor for simple neck pain and just requested routine blood work. to my surprise this was the result, TP 3.1 g/dL L 5.0 - 7.4 GLOB 1.5 g/dL L 1.6 - 3.6 ALB 1.6 g/dL L 2.7 - 4.4 AST 62 IU/L 15 - 66 ALT 27 IU/L 12 - 118 ALKP 64 IU/L 5 - 131 TBIL 0.1 mg/dL 0.1 - 0.3 CREA 0.5 mg/dL 0.5 - 1.6 BUN/UREA 10 mg/dL 6 - 31 PHOS 2.8 mg/dL 2.5 - 6.0 GLU 74 mg/dL 70 - 138 Ca 7.3 mg/dL L 8.9 - 11.4 Ca (CORR) 9.2 Sodium 153 mEq/L 139 - 154 Potassium 4.6 mEq/L 3.6 - 5.5 Na/K Ratio 33 27 - 38 Chloride 122 mEq/L H 102 - 120 and temp of 102. doctor did not see the result till next day so we went home with pain med for neck pain but he called me next day with lab result very worried that the dog may have cancer and I should take antibiotic till couple of days later that he would see the dog for quick Ultrasound and if he sees fluid leak in the stomach and to take samples. to add, the dog lost 1 lb in 4 months. next day, the dog was just fine with no symptoms and eating and everything else was normal. he just does not like his food because he has allergies and takes hydrolyzed protein soy base royal canine food that he hates. next day, I was imagining that he has distended stomach (maybe because I read too much about people's comments about their dog on this website). I took the dog to doctor (48 hours after original test). they did quick ultrasound and saw very little leak that was not enough to take sample from. they re-did of test and they got the following: TP = 4.6 g/dL L 5.2 - 8.2 GLOB = 2.7 g/dL 2.5 - 4.5 ALB = 1.9 g/dL L 2.2 - 3.9 ALB/GLOB = 0.7 ALT = 50 U/L 10 - 125 ALKP = 82 U/L 23 - 212 CREA = 0.7 mg/dL 0.5 - 1.8 BUN/UREA = 8 mg/dL 7 - 27 GLU = 82 mg/dL 70 - 143 BUN/CREA = 11 so pretty much the lab had improved and doctor discontinued pain med and antibiotic. and sent urinalysis out. note that 2 yrs ago, dog had serious pancreatitis. but he had no symptoms this time but there was a possibility of flare that doctor thought is far fetched. dog is pretty active and normal. so, we are all puzzled what this is. we will have urine result tomorrow. so, could it be liver? could it be cancer? can anyone help? thanks

Low Blood Albumin Average Cost

From 73 quotes ranging from $500 - $12,000

Average Cost

$6,000