Protein is important for a dog because it provides him with essential amino acids vital to his good health. As your dog ages, his protein requirements will change. Generally, if he eats too much protein, the excess is excreted in his urine while the rest is used as energy or converted to fat. If your dog's blood test shows high protein levels, he may be dehydrated or suffering from an infection.
Total Blood Protein
When the vet runs a blood chemistry profile, he's provided with a wealth of information, including a value for a dog's total protein, or TP. A dog's total protein value includes the proteins albumin, which accounts for the majority of his blood proteins, and the larger proteins known as globulin. Fibrinogen is a third type of blood protein, though it's present in much smaller amounts, comprising approximately 5 percent of a dog's blood proteins. A normal TP range for a dog is between 5 and 7.4 gm/dL. A normal albumin range is 2.7 to 4.4 g/L, while globulin tends to range between 1.6 and 3.6 g/dL and fibrinogen is between 150 and 400 mg/dl.
Different Blood Proteins
Albumin is produced by the liver and holds water in the blood vessels. Globulin is produced by your dog's liver and immune system and works to fight disease. Fibrinogen transforms to fibrin to help in blood clotting. Since albumin and globulin make up the majority of the total protein number, understanding their values can provide clues about why a TP value is not in the normal range.
High Protein Levels
If your dog's TP values are higher than normal, it can indicate dehydration, which is also reflected in an elevated albumin level. Causes of dehydration include prolonged fever, vomiting, diarrhea or insufficient water intake. Another cause of a high protein value is infection, as the dog's immune system produces higher levels of globulin to stimulate antibodies. Infection and inflammation are the primary causes of high globulin and high TP, though in older dogs an immune system tumor may be the culprit.
If your dog's blood protein is high, the vet will consider other lab results as well as your dog's symptoms and medical history in reaching a diagnosis.