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Low Blood Albumin in Dogs

Hypoalbuminemia in Dogs

When a dog’s blood serum contains abnormally low levels of albumin, it is diagnosed with hypoalbuminemia. Albumin, a protein produced in the liver and transported into the bloodstream, plays a crucial role in regulating blood volume by managing pressure within the blood compartment. Additionally, it is essential for maintaining fluid within the vascular compartment. Therefore, a deficiency of albumin can lead to serious risks for a dog, such as dangerous fluid accumulation.

Hypoalbuminemia doesn’t appear to have a specific age onset. Furthermore, there are no discernible breed or gender predispositions.

Symptoms and Types

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Episodes of diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Swollen limbs
  • Generalized edema


  • Chronic liver conditions: chronic hepatitis; cirrhosis
  • Inadequate fluid or food intake leading to malnutrition or malabsorption
  • Amyloidosis (deposition of insoluble proteins in organs)
  • Glomerulonephritis (immune-mediated renal disease)
  • Lymphangiectasia (intestinal disease in dogs)
  • Lymphoma
  • Severe inflammatory bowel disease
  • Histoplasmosis (fungal infection)
  • Skin ulcers with oozing sores
  • Chronic and severe blood loss
  • Repeated accumulation of large volumes of fluid in the abdomen
  • Inflammatory conditions such as pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal lining)
  • Chylous effusions (milky bodily fluid containing lymph and emulsified fats in unintended cavities)
  • Pyothorax (chest infection)
  • Vasculopathies (blood vessel diseases)
  • Immune-mediated causes
  • Infectious causes including tick fever, infectious canine hepatitis, and sepsis syndrome (body-wide infection)


Given the multitude of potential causes for this condition, your veterinarian will likely employ a differential diagnosis approach. This method involves carefully examining the visible outward symptoms, systematically eliminating each of the more common causes until the correct disorder is identified and can be treated accordingly.

Before your veterinarian can devise an effective treatment strategy, it is imperative to conclusively identify the underlying cause of the low albumin levels in the bloodstream. For instance, if severe liver disease is the culprit, your dog may exhibit all the listed symptoms. A comprehensive blood analysis and urinalysis will aid in pinpointing the cause. Additionally, chest and abdominal X-rays, along with ultrasound examinations and liver and kidney biopsies, may be necessary.


The treatment course for your dog will be determined by the underlying cause of the low albumin levels. Initially, hospitalization may be necessary for treatment. For instance, if there is fluid accumulation in the chest, a chest tube may be inserted to alleviate the buildup. Intravenous fluids may also be administered as needed. Additionally, the choice of medication will be tailored to address the root cause of the albumin deficiency.

Your veterinarian might recommend physical therapy, including walks, to improve peripheral swelling drainage. Furthermore, a specific dietary plan will be devised once your dog is able to resume normal eating habits.

Living and Management

During the initial stages of treatment, your veterinarian will require frequent check-ups to monitor your dog’s body weight, fluid retention, and albumin levels. Regular blood samples will be taken to assess albumin concentrations. It’s crucial to ensure that the heart is functioning properly and that your dog is recovering from any stress caused by the albumin disorder.

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