If low albumin levels were found in your dog’s blood serum, you may now be wondering about causes of low albumin in dogs. Hypoalbuminemia, is the medical term used to depict low levels of albumin in the blood and this finding warrants further investigation. In some cases, the finding of low albumin levels can be purely coincidental, but more often than not, affected dogs were being seen by the vet for feeling poorly, hence why the bloodwork was performed in the first place. There are several causes of low albumin in dogs and veterinarian Dr. Joanne Fernandez Lopez discusses several.
What Can Cause Low Albumin in Dogs?
Albumin is one of the blood proteins that is produced by the liver. It has many important functions like keeping oncotic pressure (helps fluid stay inside the blood vessels) and facilitating the transport of electrolytes, calcium, hormones, and even some medications we give through the blood stream.
Causes of low albumin in dogs could be from loss, decreased production, or compensatory. The loss may be caused by kidney disease (protein-losing nephropathy), intestinal loss (protein-losing enteropathy), severe skin diseases like burns, abrasions, degloving injuries and vasculitis or external blood loss or hemorrhage.
Decreased production could be due to liver failure or malnutrition either from parasite infection or decreased food consumption. There could also be other intestinal conditions like maldigestion and malabsorption of nutrients that may contribute to a decrease in albumin.
Compensatory conditions like chronic effusions, cancer (multiple myeloma) and elevation of other proteins in the body like globulin may cause a compensatory decrease in the albumin.
Your veterinarian will recommend other tests to narrow down all potential causes and reach a diagnosis. Low albumin could be very critical and it should be further investigated.
About the author
Dr. Joanne Fernandez-Lopez is an emergency veterinarian on staff in the Emergency and Critical Care Department at Florida veterinary Referral Center (FVRC).
Originally from Puerto Rico, Dr. Joanne Fernandez-Lopez graduated from North Carolina State University – College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, NC. Prior to joining FVRC, Dr. Fernandez-Lopez worked in small animal general practice and as a relief doctor in South East Florida. Her professional interests include dermatology, surgery, internal medicine, preventive medicine, reptile medicine and practice management.
In her free time, Dr. Fernandez-Lopez enjoys relaxing at the beach, paddle boarding, kayaking, and surfing. She has a small Tibetan spaniel mix named Carlitos.