Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

High Levels of Protein in Dog Urine (Proteinuria in Dogs)

What Is Excess Protein in Dog Urine (Proteinuria)?

Excessive protein in your dog’s urine, known as proteinuria, indicates a potential health issue. While dogs typically have a small amount of protein in their urine, an abundance could signal an underlying problem.

The primary concern linked with proteinuria in dogs is kidney disease. However, it can also stem from infections, urinary tract inflammation or bleeding, tumors, high blood pressure, and other ailments. Often, when proteinuria isn’t linked to kidney disease, resolving the underlying issue resolves the condition.

In cases where kidney disease is the cause, proteinuria indicates kidney malfunction. Normally, the kidneys filter waste from the bloodstream and regulate nutrient levels. But in dogs with kidney disease, the glomerulus—a filtering structure in the kidney—fails to function correctly. This allows proteins that should remain in the blood to leak into the urine, detectable by a veterinarian. It’s important to note that proteinuria itself isn’t a disease but rather a symptom of an underlying condition that requires attention.


The symptoms of proteinuria in dogs vary depending on the underlying cause. Often, dogs with proteinuria may not exhibit any symptoms, and the condition may only be detected through a routine urinalysis conducted by a veterinarian.

However, proteinuria in dogs can indicate serious kidney disease. If you notice signs such as lethargy or increased thirst in your dog, it’s crucial to seek emergency veterinary care promptly.

Additionally, proteinuria in dogs may manifest alongside the following symptoms:

  • Swelling (edema) in the legs, lower chest, or abdomen, possibly with pitting edema, where a dimple remains after pressing the swollen area.
  • Difficulty breathing due to fluid accumulation in the chest (pleural effusion) or abdomen (ascites or peritoneal effusion).
  • Presence of blood clots, which can lead to symptoms like breathing difficulties, limb pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or collapse. The specific symptoms depend on the location of the blood clot. If your dog displays any signs potentially caused by a blood clot, immediate emergency care is necessary.


The causes of proteinuria in dogs encompass a range of issues that can affect any part of the urinary tract, including kidney disease. These causes include:

  • Hemolysis: When blood cells burst, releasing hemoglobin protein into the bloodstream.
  • Rhabdomyolysis: Breakdown of muscle cells, releasing muscle protein into the blood. This can result from strenuous exercise, fever, or seizures.
  • Infections: Various infections such as bladder, urethra, or ureter infections, genital infections, Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, heartworm disease, dental disease, bacterial skin disease, endocarditis, and Leishmaniasis.
  • Cancers: Including lymphoma, mast cell tumor, multiple myeloma, transitional cell carcinoma (urinary tract cancer), and histiocytic sarcoma.
  • Inflammation: Caused by conditions like pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis.
  • Kidney issues: Such as injury, failure, chronic kidney disease (CKD), or kidney cancer.
  • Fanconi syndrome: Abnormal functioning of kidney tubules.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism).
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Amyloidosis: A rare disease leading to high levels of certain proteins in the heart, kidneys, and other organs.
  • Idiopathic: Cases with an unknown cause.

Dog Breeds That Are Prone to Proteinuria

    • Bernese Mountain Dog
    • Doberman Pinscher
    • Bull Terrier
    • English Cocker Spaniel
    • Samoyed
    • Miniature Schnauzer
    • Chinese Shar-Pei
    • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
    • English Foxhound
    • Belgian Malinois
    • Bullmastiff
    • Norwegian Elkhound


The primary method for diagnosing proteinuria in dogs involves a routine urinalysis. During this procedure, urine is collected from the dog and examined either at a laboratory or within the veterinarian’s facility.

If elevated protein levels are detected in the urine, the vet will likely suggest further testing using a urine protein to creatinine ratio (UPCR) test. This test is considered the standard method for assessing protein levels in dogs. It’s often performed alongside other tests to evaluate the dog’s kidney function. During the UPCR test, urine samples are collected and analyzed in a laboratory to determine the precise protein levels, aiding in identifying the underlying cause of the condition.

If the UPCR results indicate significant proteinuria (with a value exceeding 0.5), the diagnosis may be confirmed by testing two additional urine samples directly from the dog’s bladder using a needle. This additional testing is recommended because proteinuria in dogs can sometimes be temporary and may not necessitate immediate treatment.

In cases where a urinary tract infection is suspected, a urine culture may be ordered to confirm or rule out the presence of infection. This test is particularly important as a urinalysis alone might not always detect a urinary tract infection, especially in dogs exhibiting symptoms suggestive of an infection alongside proteinuria.


Treatment for proteinuria in dogs focuses on addressing the underlying health issue rather than the proteinuria itself, as it serves as a potential indicator of a more serious condition.

Upon diagnosing proteinuria in your dog, your veterinarian will prioritize identifying the root cause. This typically involves conducting further tests and obtaining a comprehensive history of your dog’s health, including any noticeable changes in behavior. Additionally, your vet may prescribe medications aimed at preventing blood clots, such as a low dose of aspirin or clopidogrel, which acts as a blood thinner.

Once the underlying cause is determined, your veterinarian will devise a tailored treatment plan. This plan will vary depending on the specific condition causing the proteinuria and may involve therapies such as:

Kidney Disease

Proteinuria is often detected in dogs suffering from kidney disease, including chronic kidney disease (CKD) and occasionally acute kidney failure. Upon diagnosing kidney disease in your dog, your veterinarian will formulate a treatment regimen aimed at alleviating symptoms and enhancing your pet’s quality of life.

Treating kidney disease in dogs is a multifaceted process that involves regular monitoring of kidney function through testing and administering medications to ease the strain on the kidneys while enhancing their functionality. Common medications may include those for managing high blood pressure, as well as diuretics like furosemide or spironolactone, particularly if edema is present. These medications work to reduce swelling and fluid buildup in your dog’s chest or abdomen. Additionally, your dog may be prescribed a specialized diet containing low levels of sodium and protein, along with omega-3 fatty acids to support kidney health.


Infections that lead to proteinuria, such as urinary tract infections, are typically managed with antibiotics. Successful treatment of the infection often results in resolution of the proteinuria.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can induce proteinuria in dogs by pushing protein into the urine within the kidneys. Typical medications utilized to manage high blood pressure in dogs consist of amlodipine and telmisartan. Additionally, your veterinarian may recommend ACE inhibitor medications like enalapril or benazepril.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myelomas are tumors that generate antibodies, along with specific Bence-Jones proteins. These proteins, being small enough to bypass the kidney’s filter, enter the urine, leading to proteinuria and potential kidney damage. A specialized Bence-Jones protein test can identify these proteins if your veterinarian suspects multiple myeloma in your dog.

Living and Management

Addressing proteinuria involves treating the underlying condition. Early detection is key to allow your veterinarian to identify the cause and formulate an appropriate treatment strategy. In instances like lower urinary tract infections, prompt treatment can often resolve the condition and eliminate proteinuria.

Chronic causes of proteinuria, such as inflammatory bowel disease, Cushing’s disease, or diabetes mellitus, may necessitate ongoing treatment. Throughout the treatment process, your veterinarian will aim to stabilize the condition and prevent potential long-term kidney damage.

For dogs diagnosed with severe kidney disease, such as severe inherited kidney disorders, kidney cancer, or kidney failure, stabilizing the condition may prove challenging or may only be achievable for a limited duration.

Proteinuria in Dogs FAQs

What does it mean if a dog has protein in their urine?

Dogs typically have a small amount of protein in their urine. Elevated levels of protein detected by a veterinarian indicate proteinuria. To confirm this condition, your veterinarian will conduct tests to identify potential causes, including kidney disease.

How do I reduce protein in my dog’s urine?

Frequent causes of kidney damage in dogs are infections. Maintaining your dog’s heartworm prevention, as well as flea and tick control, is crucial. Promptly treating skin infections and dental issues can also help prevent kidney damage.

Why does my dog have high protein in his urine?

High levels of protein in urine could signify various issues, including infection, blood presence in urine, ruptured red blood cells, muscle protein, or albumin. Sometimes, the protein indicates a problem with the kidney’s glomerulus, resulting in protein loss from the body into the urine.

What is urine protein creatinine ratio (UPCR) in dogs?

UPCR measures the ratio of urine protein to urine creatinine in a dog’s blood. Creatinine is a natural waste product found in the blood. This test is considered the standard for evaluating proteinuria in dogs. A UPCR level below 0.5 is considered normal. It is often used alongside other kidney tests to assess overall kidney function.

Scroll to Top