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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 can occur very quickly. Symptoms 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 parasites, gastritis, IBD, lymphangectasia etc.
  • 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 access 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 fluids and pain relief, 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 IBD 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.

Low blood albumin could be a symptom of a serious medical condition. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

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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

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Jenna

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Golden Retriever

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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 Calcium
Low Energy
Low Albumin

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

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

Moderate severity

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11 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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11 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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Low Blood Albumin Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$6,000

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