High alkaline phosphatase in dogs: what does it mean?

High alkaline phosphatase in dogs is a little discussed problem, but when asked it always raises many questions. Before understanding what it means, it is necessary to know the functioning of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) at normal levels.

This set of enzymes removes the phosphate groups from the molecules, acting in the alkaline phase.

It is produced in various parts of the body, such as the kidneys, the placenta and the intestinal lining, but it is mainly secreted by the liver and bones. When the dog’s ALP increases, it means that there are certain health problems.

The levels of ALP are measured during blood tests and, if it is found that the alkaline phosphatase is high, the veterinarian will immediately start a treatment to reduce the amount.

What are the causes?

The causes for which ALP levels are high have not yet been fully clarified. However, in most cases, outliers are related to liver problems and bone diseases.

Other causes can be other diseases, side effects to drugs, especially when the dog is young. Examples of disorders associated with the problem are:

  • Cushing’s disease
  • Infectious hepatitis
  • Nodular hyperplasia
  • Hepatobiliary problems such as cholangiohepatitis, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, gallbladder rupture, pancreatitis, etc.
  • Musculoskeletal problems such as osteosarcoma, osteomyelitis, etc …
  • Endocrine problems such as hyperadrenocorticism, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, etc.
  • Intestinal problems
  • Neoplasms, such as hemangiosarcoma, lymphomas, carcinomas, etc.
  • Administration of some drugs, for example anticonvulsants, anthelmintics, antimicrobials, antifungals or glucocorticoids.
  • Fasting for a long time

There is also the possibility that the problem is caused by physiological reasons. An example is when puppies are in development. In this phase of bone growth, it is common that the level of alkaline phosphatase is high and without the presence of a pathology.

Diagnosis of the disease

Since as we have seen there are several conditions that can be associated with this problem, both physiological and pathological, it is difficult to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. The veterinarian will also have to analyze other values ​​present in the tests and the symptoms presented by the dog.

For example, when ALP levels are high in a puppy, it is generally normal. When the problem occurs in an adult dog, the elevation of alkaline phosphatase, followed by increased thirst and urination, can be linked to liver problems.

So reading only the value of alkaline phosphatase is useless. We need to dig deeper to find out the real causes of the problem. It is up to the owners to inform the veterinarian if their dog is on medication, if there have been changes in behavior, changes in routine, etc. Everything can influence the increase in ALP.

Furthermore, it is important to know that often many diseases will not present specific symptoms. Precisely for this reason it is important not to self-medicate your dog and always rely on the careful clinical evaluation of a professional.

Excessive thirst, increased urination, discomfort, lethargy, yellowing of the mucous membranes, fever, pain, loss of or increase in appetite and vomiting are some symptoms of pathologies, so early treatment is essential.

Treatment and reduction of alkaline phosphatase levels in dogs
Given the multiplicity of factors that can cause an increase in alkaline phosphatase, it is not possible to establish a single treatment. To reduce the levels of ALP in dogs, it is necessary to start with the diagnosis during exams.

If the cause of the problem is diabetes, for example, the treatment is reduced to the application of insulin and a special diet. When the reason is hepatitis, the problem can be solved by administering antibiotics. Furthermore, it is worth knowing that if the liver is totally damaged, the dog will have symptoms of liver failure.

It is important to follow the instructions of the veterinarian correctly during treatment. With the correct medications for high alkaline phosphatase in dogs and good care, the animal will feel better in no time.

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