Globulin is a protein in your dog's blood, produced by his immune system. A high globulin level in a dog's blood work indicates that his immune system is working overtime, potentially battling infection or inflammation. Cancer, heartworm infection and dental disease also can cause elevated globulin levels.
Your dog's blood contains three major proteins: fibrinogen, albumin and globulin. There are dozens of types of globulin produced by the immune system and each has a specific function. In addition to the total blood globulin level, total protein, the amount of proteins in the blood and the albumin/globulin ratio can provide valuable information to your vet about your dog's health.
Normal Globulin Ranges
The normal range of total blood globulin in a dog is between 1.6 and 3.6 g/dL. A normal total protein range is 5.0 to 7.4 g/dL and a normal albumin/globulin ratio is between 0.8 and 2.0. Usually there is more albumin present relative to globulin, however if the albumin is normal and there is a significantly higher level of globulin in the blood, the level will drop to well below a 1-to-1 ratio. Checking the albumin/globulin ratio acts as a bit of a double check for the vet, bolstering an abnormal globulin level.
High Globulin Levels
An elevated globulin level indicates immune system overactivity. There are a host of reasons why your dog's globulin level may be higher than normal including:
- Canine heartworm
- Chronic liver disease
- Ehrlichia infection, a bacterial infection of the white blood cells
- Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
- Severe or chronic periodontal disease
- Chronic infections and inflammations
- Certain types of cancer.
Understanding High Globulin Levels
The high globulin number is not the only important value considered. The vet will look at the dog's total protein value; an elevated total protein value can indicate dehydration, chronic inflammation, infection and immune system tumors. The conditions causing the higher globulin and total protein level can push the albumin/globulin ratio lower than normal.
Making a Diagnosis
A high protein level on its own won't provide the vet enough information to confirm a diagnosis. In addition to the albumin/globulin ratio and the total protein value, the vet will consider the other information in your dog's lab tests, as well as his symptoms and medical history. Special tests such as a bone marrow exam and heartworm tests also may be conducted, depending on the symptoms, to determine a diagnosis. When the cause of a dog's elevated globulin is determined, the vet can recommend a treatment regimen.