Low blood albumin in dogs, also known as hypoalbuminemia, happens when levels of albumin, a protein that regulates blood volume, drop abnormally low. This is usually due to an underlying condition — often one that affects the liver, kidneys, or intestines.
Hypoalbuminemia can happen when the liver fails to synthesize enough protein, or it can happen when protein is lost through urine or blood. Low blood albumin in dogs can be chronic and appear gradually, or it can come on very quickly and result in severe symptoms. It can also affect dogs of any breed, age, or sex.
If you see the signs of low blood albumin in your dog, then you must consult your veterinarian right away so they can find the underlying cause and begin proper treatment. Here’s what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for low blood albumin in dogs.
Symptoms Of Low Blood Albumin In Dogs
Symptoms of low blood albumin in dogs often appear alongside the symptoms of the underlying condition that’s causing the hypoalbuminemia. These conditions can include liver or kidney damage or intestinal problems among other medical issues.
If you see the following symptoms of low blood albumin in your dog, then get to your vet right away:
- Swelling in the extremities (legs and paws)
- Difficulty breathing
- Distended abdomen (ascites)
- Generalized swelling (all over the body)
- Pulmonary edema (fluid in the chest)
Causes Of Low Blood Albumin In Dogs
There are many conditions that can cause low blood albumin in dogs. It can happen when dogs don’t take in enough protein, when protein is lost through bleeding in the gut or through urine from the kidneys, or when the liver fails to produce enough protein.
Here are several possible causes for a drop in blood albumin levels in dogs:
- Malabsorption of nutrients
- Heavy bleeding
- Oozing sores on the skin
- Severe burns
- Protein losing enteropathy (cause by parasites, gastritis, colitis, and other conditions)
- Liver disease
- Renal (kidney) disease
- Fluid in the abdomen
- Immune-mediated diseases
- Fungal infection
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Treatments For Low Blood Albumin In Dogs
Treatment for low blood albumin in dogs depend on the severity and cause of the condition.
For dogs in a crisis state, hospitalization may be the first course of action. In an emergency, dogs are given intravenous fluids to restore hydration and electrolytes, and if there’s a dangerous build-up of fluid in the chest or abdomen, a tube may be inserted to drain it.
Medications may also be prescribed to treat the underlying condition. Some of these conditions, such as gastritis or colitis, are fairly easy to manage, and prognosis is good. Other conditions, such as liver or renal failure, are more difficult to treat.
While recovering, a vet may prescribe diet changes to help boost albumin and treat the underlying cause. They may also recommend physical therapy or more walks to drain fluid and reduce swelling in the limbs.
Several follow-up vet visits should be made to ensure the heart is functioning properly and fluid isn’t building up to unsafe levels.
Has your dog ever had low albumin levels? How did your vet treat it? Let us know in the comments below!