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High Level of Plasma Proteins in the Blood of Dogs

Hyperviscosity Syndrome in Dogs

Hyperviscosity syndrome in dogs refers to a condition where there’s an elevated level of plasma proteins in the bloodstream, leading to increased blood viscosity or thickness. This elevation is often a consequence of underlying cancerous conditions, particularly seen in paraneoplastic syndromes, where cancer elsewhere in the body triggers this response. The primary culprits are usually cancers of plasma cells like multiple myeloma, along with other lymphoid tumors or leukemias.

Clinical manifestations of hyperviscosity syndrome stem from impaired blood flow through smaller vessels due to the thickened blood, increased plasma volume, and associated coagulation abnormalities. This condition isn’t confined by gender or breed and tends to affect older dogs more frequently.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms may vary and are not consistently present across all cases. However, common signs include:

  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Increased urination and thirst
  • Vision problems such as blindness or unsteadiness
  • Bleeding tendencies
  • Seizures and disorientation
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing in cases of congestive heart failure due to volume overload
  • Nosebleeds or bleeding in the mucus membranes
  • Visual deficits related to engorged retinal vessels, retinal hemorrhage or detachment, and optic swelling


The primary underlying conditions contributing to hyperviscosity syndrome in dogs include:

  • Multiple myeloma and plasma cell tumors
  • Lymphocytic leukemia or lymphoma
  • Significant polycythemia (an increase in the total number of blood cells)
  • Chronic atypical inflammation accompanied by monoclonal gammopathy (where an abnormal protein is detected in the blood, which can be triggered by tick fever in dogs)
  • Chronic autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus and rheumatoid arthritis


Hyperviscosity is considered a syndrome rather than a definitive diagnosis. Nevertheless, your veterinarian will aim to identify the underlying cause of the symptoms. A comprehensive physical examination of your pet will be conducted, taking into account the history of symptoms and any potential triggering events. This evaluation will include a thorough blood profile analysis, encompassing a chemical blood profile, complete blood count, and urinalysis. Special attention will be given to assessing the total plasma protein levels and detecting any blood disorders. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your veterinarian will develop an appropriate treatment plan.


Typically, dogs diagnosed with this condition are managed as inpatients. Treatment will primarily target the underlying disease causing the symptoms. The overall treatment approach will depend on whether the symptoms stem from cancer or an inflammatory condition.

Living and Management

Following discharge, your veterinarian will continue monitoring your dog’s serum or plasma protein levels regularly to assess the treatment’s efficacy. Follow-up blood tests and periodic urinalyses will also be performed to evaluate your dog’s response to the disease.

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