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High Cholesterol in Dogs

What Is High Cholesterol in Dogs?

High cholesterol, also known as hyperlipidemia, in dogs occurs when there are excessive fats in the bloodstream. Cholesterol, a fat-like substance found in all cells of the body, plays essential roles in hormone production, vitamin utilization, and cell formation. However, when cholesterol levels exceed the normal range of 120-270 mg/dL, it can pose health risks for dogs.

While high cholesterol is common in dogs and can sometimes result from consuming a high-fat meal, it can also be indicative of underlying health issues or genetic predispositions. Although high cholesterol itself is not considered a medical emergency, it’s important to address any underlying conditions that may be contributing to it.

Consulting with a veterinarian is crucial for diagnosing the cause of high cholesterol in dogs and determining the appropriate course of action.


Symptoms of high cholesterol in dogs are typically absent in most cases and are often identified through routine blood tests. However, if symptoms do manifest, they may include:

  • White spots on the surface of the eyes
  • Hair loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures


The causes of high cholesterol in dogs can stem from either underlying conditions or specific events. These include:

  • Consumption of a high-fat meal: Often, elevated cholesterol levels in dogs are transient, resulting from the ingestion of a fatty meal before a blood test.

  • If your dog’s cholesterol is elevated due to recent fatty food consumption, your veterinarian may recommend repeating the blood test after a 12-hour fast.

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Diabetes mellitus or Cushing’s disease

  • Pancreatitis

  • Protein-losing nephropathy (PLN)

  • Certain medications: Chronic use of steroids like prednisone, prednisolone, and triamcinolone can lead to high cholesterol levels.

  • Genetic predisposition: Some breeds, including Miniature Schnauzers, Beagles, Shetland Sheepdogs, Poodles, Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers, are genetically inclined to have elevated cholesterol levels.


Diagnosing high cholesterol in dogs involves a comprehensive approach, including a physical examination, blood work, and a urinalysis.

To obtain accurate cholesterol levels, it’s essential not to feed your dog a fatty meal immediately before their appointment. Ideally, refrain from feeding them for at least 12 hours prior to the visit.

In cases where an underlying cause of high cholesterol is suspected, your veterinarian may suggest further laboratory tests to investigate the issue.


Treating high cholesterol in dogs involves management rather than a cure. The primary focus of treatment is to minimize fats in your dog’s diet. A low-fat diet rich in fiber can help reduce circulating fats in the bloodstream.

This dietary adjustment is typically a lifelong commitment, and it’s essential to limit high-fat treats, ensure proper portion control, and encourage regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight for your dog.

If an underlying disease is identified, treatment will primarily aim at managing that specific health condition.

Living and Management

Managing high cholesterol in dogs typically involves a combination of a fat-restricted diet and promoting healthy habits. Regular exercise is encouraged, and daily long walks can aid in burning fat and enhancing muscle tone in your dog.

Introducing a food puzzle can engage your dog’s mind during mealtime, slowing down their intake and helping them feel fuller. It’s important to maintain portion control and refrain from feeding table scraps.

If your veterinarian prescribes any medications for underlying medical conditions, it’s crucial to follow their instructions diligently. Attend follow-up appointments as scheduled, as they allow for medication adjustments and help establish the best routine to keep your dog healthy.


Preventing high cholesterol in dogs involves proactive measures to maintain their overall health:

  • Ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight by feeding them the appropriate amount of food according to their size and age.
  • Limit the number of treats and avoid overfeeding during meals.
  • Refrain from leaving food out all day, as pets may snack out of boredom.
  • Avoid feeding your dog table scraps or high-fat treats that could impact their cholesterol levels.

High Cholesterol in Dogs FAQs

What dietary options can help lower dogs’ cholesterol?

Dogs should consume a diet low in fats to reduce their cholesterol levels.

Are eggs detrimental to dogs with high cholesterol?

While eggs are generally safe for most healthy dogs, they might not be suitable for those with elevated cholesterol or hyperlipidemia. Egg yolks contain triglycerides and cholesterol, making them less than ideal for dogs with increased fats in their bloodstream.

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