Just like humans, cats get blood work done. Also, just like humans, abnormal blood work can indicate a major red flag that requires more testing. Often, blood work is conducted in the first place because an animal is sick and, thus, requires testing to figure out the problem and develop a plan for recovery.
One lab result to pay attention to is albumin levels in cats. While all blood test results that come back from the lab can be indicative of the symptoms your pet may be having, albumin levels that are off the mark can be key to figuring out what might be wrong with your pet– or a sign that a seemingly healthy pet may develop a condition in the future.
So, what is albumin?
What is Albumin?
Albumin is a major protein in a cat’s body that originates in the liver. The protein helps to carry molecules throughout the body through the blood, including calcium, hormones such as progesterone, and enzymes. Measurement of albumin helps to assess kidney and liver function– organs crucial to filtering out toxic substances, converting nutrients into energy, and balancing minerals in the blood.
Since albumin is made in the liver, diseases that affect liver function reduce the liver’s ability to create albumin.
In layman’s terms, if something is wrong with your pet elsewhere in his or her body, analysis of albumin levels through blood work can point a veterinarian to where and how to proceed.
This isn’t unique to your cat– Albumin levels that are off are a cause for concern in humans, too!
Why Would Albumin Be Low in my Cat?
Levels of albumin that are too low are significantly more of a red flag than levels that are too high, as low levels indicate loss.
Common places where this loss occurs are through the kidneys, through the gastrointestinal tract, or through an accumulation of fluid elsewhere in the body (usually in the chest cavity).
Diseases indicated by low levels of albumin are as follows:
- Chronic liver disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Pyothorax (an infection in a cat’s chest cavity)
However, this loss can happen anywhere throughout the body. Topical sores that are constantly oozing or chronic blood loss anywhere in the body may indicate low albumin levels as well.
Unfortunately, low levels of albumin cannot point a veterinarian to one disease in particular but can help point to which tests to conduct next.
Why Would Albumin Be High in my Cat?
Unlike low levels of albumin, high albumin in cats has been found to be much less of a cause for concern. This is because, while low levels of albumin indicate loss, high levels indicate overproduction.
The most common high albumin cause is dehydration in your cat or a diet that is abnormally high in protein. While both dehydration and improper nutrition are a cause for concern, both can be easily fixed, and neither indicates underlying disease on their own.
What Can I Do About Abnormal Albumin Levels?
If you receive a blood test result with abnormal levels of albumin, don’t panic! Your veterinarian will develop a plan for the necessary additional testing or treatment. It’s possible that you’ll be recommended to an Internal Medicine Specialist for further treatment.
If your veterinarian detects high levels of albumin because of dehydration or diet, they’ll work with you to develop a feeding schedule that will fix the problem or recommend ways to keep your pet hydrated in the hot summer months.
Unlike other health concerns that are visible to the eye, detecting abnormal albumin levels is impossible without conducting blood work. However, be sure to bring your cat to a veterinarian if he or she develops the following symptoms:
- Breathing difficulty, including panting and/or coughing
- Swelling in any region of the body
- Abdominal distention
- Persistent diarrhea
For more information on albumin levels, the signs and symptoms mentioned above, or your pet’s blood work in general, contact us today.