Hypoalbuminemia in dogs

Hypoalbuminemia in dogs
July 12, 2019

Hypoalbuminemia in dogs

 Hypoalbuminemia isn’t a condition which many dog owners are aware of until their dogs have been diagnosed with it. Hypoalbuminemia occurs when their levels of albumin which is found in their blood serum is unusually low. 

Albumin is a form of protein which is created in the liver before being carried into the bloodstream. Albumin has a number of functions in the blood, the main one being regulating blood volume and controlling blood pressure. It also has an important role to play when it comes to retaining fluid in vascular compartments in the body.  

When not enough albumin is created, this can potentially be fatal as it will mean that they are susceptible to experiencing dangerous build ups in a fluid. 

Hypoalbuminemia in dogs can occur at any age, and through looking at reported cases, no dog breed is susceptible to Hypoalbuminemia more than any other.

Hypoalbuminemia in Dogs Symptoms 

 Catching Hypoalbuminemia in dogs is incredibly difficult due to the fact that many people aren’t even aware of the condition in the first place. And not unlike most conditions with dogs, Hypoalbuminemia can be mistaken for many other conditions.

However, if you spot any of the following symptoms, you should take your dog for a checkup immediately. 

  1. Abdominal distention (where the stomach droops down)
  2. Vomiting and or Diarrhea  
  3. Swollen limbs
  4. General visible swelling on the body
  5. Difficulty breathing.

All these symptoms are very obvious effects of the fluid in the body not being sufficiently regulated, therefore it can be fairly easy for a vet to consider the possibility of your dog suffering from Hypoalbuminemia. 

Causes of Hypoalbuminemia in Dogs 

 Usually, there are only a handful of causes for any respective health condition. However, when it comes to Hypoalbuminemia in dogs there is a myriad of reasons to explore. Treating not only the Hypoalbuminemia but ensuring the primary condition has been resolved is essential for ensuring that your dog will make a full recovery.

  1. Chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver or chronic hepatitis 
  2. Being malnourished or not having an adequate fluid intake 
  3. Conditions such as Amyloidosis which can cause insoluble proteins to be deposited in the organs. 
  4. Immune-mediated renal diseases 
  5. Intestinal diseases 
  6. Lymphoma  
  7. Severe cases of inflammatory bowel diseases 
  8. Fungal diseases such as Histoplasmosis 
  9. The presence of oozing open sores on the dog’s skin  
  10. Severe blood loss following an accident or injury 
  11. Inflammation of the pancreas 
  12. Inflammation of the abdomen lining 
  13. Chest infections 
  14. Tick fever  
  15. Sepsis 

While some of those conditions are easy to treat, others have far more severe consequences. The typical diagnosis, depending on what your vet believes to be the cause is a simple and effective process.

How a Diagnosis is made for Hypoalbuminemia in Dogs 

 Considering the extensive number of possible causes for Hypoalbuminemia in dogs, vets usually prefer to use differential diagnosis methods to confirm the presence of Hypoalbuminemia. This is the process of looking into the most apparent outward symptoms, which will allow the vet to rule out each common cause until they are certain that the correct disorder has been chosen and they can put the most appropriate care plan into place.

Depending on your dog’s outward symptoms, your vet will decide on where to start with the investigations. For example, if they think that the liver is the cause of the Hypoalbuminemia, your vet will conduct a urinalysis and complete blood analysis on your dog, or, if they suspect that the Hypoalbuminemia has occurred due to a chest infection they will start the diagnosis with chest X-Rays. Similarly, if your vet believes it is your dog’s stomach is the problem, they will run abdominal X-Ray. For the harder to diagnose conditions ultrasounds and kidney biopsies may be required. 

Treatment of Hypoalbuminemia in Dogs

 Your dog’s treatment will not only depend on the cause of the Hypoalbuminemia, but it is also dependent on how low the albumin counts are. In some circumstances, your dog will need to be hospitalized and monitored depending on how severe the condition is. For example, if your vet has confirmed that there is a fluid build-up on their chest, they may need a tube inserted into their chests to drain the fluid. There are also instances where IV fluids are required, this is most likely if your dog hasn’t had an adequate fluid intake for an extended period of time. 

Your vet will prescribe your dog’s medication based on the underlying cause of the deficiency of the albumin, therefore, we can’t give you an accurate description of what you can experience throughout your dog’s recovery. Each case of Hypoalbuminemia in dogs is extremely different.  

Some treatment plans for Hypoalbuminemia in dogs include physical therapy such as walks, as gentle exercise has proven to be effective when it comes to improving the drainage of peripheral swelling. Always make sure that you consult with your vet on the most appropriate exercise routine after your dog’s treatment.  You may also want to consult with your vet on what the best diet would be for them during and following on from the Hypoalbuminemia treatment which is kinder on the kidneys.

After the initial treatment has concluded, you will need to schedule trips to the vet regularly for your vet to accurately monitor your dog’s body weight and to check for recurrences of excessive fluid build-ups in the body. These repeat trips may include allowing your vet to take blood samples and ensuring that the heart is functioning as it should.