High globulin levels in dogs is a finding that requires further investigation so to detect the underlying cause and have it addressed accordingly. In order to understand what causes elevated globulin levels in dogs, it helps to firstly take a closer look into what globulins are and what roles they play in the dog's body. Just as it happens in humans, globulins carry out important functions that allow the body to function in harmony and perform all of its important tasks flawlessly.
The Function of Globulins in Dogs
Your dog's blood serum (the portion of blood that remains once red blood cells, white blood cells and blood clotting factors are removed) is mainly composed of two major protein groups: albumin and globulin. The main objective of these protein groups is to carry substances throughout the bloodstream.
A higher percentage of your dog's serum is composed by albumin proteins which keep the blood from leaking out of blood vessels. Albumin also helps carry medications and other substances through the blood and plays an important role in tissue growth and healing.
The remaining percentage of your dog's serum is composed by globulins. Globulins are manufactured by your dog's liver courtesy of the immune system. They carry out several important functions such as helping your dog's blood clot after acute tissue injury, helping your dog's liver function as it should and helping your dog fight inflammatory disorders and infections.
Not all globulins are created equally. Globulins are typically categorized into three protein fractions: alpha globulins, beta globulins and gamma globulins.
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Causes of High Globulin Levels in Dogs
When a dog's globulin levels are elevated, this is known as hyperglobulinemia and it is indicative of some type of disease process or condition that is stimulating the dog's immune system.
The top possible causes for this can be chronic inflammation, chronic infectious diseases, allergies and even cancer.
Conditions known to cause high globulins include tick-borne disease such as Lyme disease, babesia and ehrlichiosis and even chronic skin infections.
A cancer known to cause elevated globulins is multiple myeloma, a cancer originating from lymphocytes, white blood cells that are housed in the bone marrow. Affected dogs develop lethargy, weakness, bone pain (due to bone changes caused by the cancer and often seen on xrays), loss of vision, neurological symptoms and increased drinking and urination.
Canine lymphoma and B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia are other cancers affecting dogs that can also be associated with increased globulin.
At the Vet's Office
If your dog's globulin levels were found to be elevated, then a second test that separates between the types of globulins can help narrow things down and help in the diagnosis process.
In particular, a test known as protein electrophoresis can turn helpful. This test helps separate proteins in the dog's serum on the basis of their size, shape and electrical charge. Protein electrophoresis can therefore be used to diagnose disorders of the immune system and confirm or rule out possible multiple myeloma.