Low albumin, or hypoalbumenia, is a result of one of of several underlying conditions. The liver directly controls albumin levels, so any damage to the liver can cause hypoalbumenia. Other related systems can also affect this protein. Treatment necessarily depends on the causal factors.
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What Is Albumin?
According to pets.ca, albumin is a small protein released by the liver. This protein holds water in the blood cells, and is important for blood balance and the integrity of the blood vessel walls. Only the liver produces albumin.
Causes of the Drop
The liver stops producing albumin when it is damaged through cancer, hepatitis, liver shunts or gall bladder removal. Damage to the intestines or urinary tract can cause the loss of albumin as well. Dogs who have kidney disease, which damages the urinary tract, often have low albumin levels.
Low albumin levels result in restricted, sluggish blood movement. The heart increases its action as it tries to force the blood through the vessels. According to pets.ca, the result is blood vessel breakage and leaking, which leads to an accumulation of blood in different areas of the body cavity.
Because low blood albumin is an effect rather than a cause, and results from several possible disorders, it can only be treated by discovering and treating the underlying factors. According to the website VetConnect, treatments for the albumin level itself sometimes consists of IV infusion with colloid solutions and nutritional support.
According to VetConnect, vets sometimes use intravenous injections of plasma to balance a dog's albumin levels, in association with whatever other treatments are going on for the underlying conditions. The most common medications to treat hypoalbumenia are colloid solutions Dextran and Hetastarch, which are given by injection. Furosemide is used as a diuretic to treat a build-up of fluid in the lungs, and aspirin is sometimes given as well.
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