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Why Is My Dog's SDH Test Abnormal ?

Why Is My Cat's SDH Test Abnormal ?

To see what normal blood and urine values are for your pet, go here

For an explanation of causes of most abnormal blood and urine tests go here

To see how tests are often grouped, go here

Ron Hines DVM PhD

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Sorbitol Dehydrogenase

aka Iditol Dehydrogenase


SDH is one of the "hepatocellular leakage enzymes". They leak out of damaged liver cells and find their way into your pet's blood whenever substantial liver pathology has occurred. The others are ALT, AST, SDH and GLDH.

Sorbitol dehydrogenas assay (SDH) is the least common leakage enzyme test that veterinarians run on dogs . I don’t know if it is ever run on cats. The alternative enzyme tests I mentions are generally quite sufficient to identify liver problems in dogs and cats. However, it is a common test for liver injury in livestock where those other tests are less effective.

In dogs and cats, the same general information on your pet’s liver can be found in its ALT results. In all species of animals (including you [ref]), SDH is found in the liver and kidney, but its released into the blood stream seems to occur only when liver cells are injured. The problem is, it only persists in your pet’s blood stream for a short period of time and decreases rapidly in blood samples as they stand. ALT persists much longer after a liver injury, so in most cases, it is the better choice.

But a possible use for the SDH test in dogs would be a pet that was injured in an accident and found to have high ALT and CK blood enzyme levels. Your vet wouldn't be sure if those increased levels were all due to muscle damage or if the pet’s liver has some problems before the accident. In that case, a high SDH and ALT levels would indicate the liver had a prior problem whereas a normal SDH and high ALT would indicate that the problem was all due to the more recent muscle trauma.

A second scenario would be a dog with high ALT and confirmed liver disease or damage when the vet wanted to know as soon as possible if your pet was responding to treatment. In that case, he would notice a positive response (declining SDH levels) quicker by checking SDH than by checking ALT. Vice versa, he would know the treatment was not working if both remained high. Neither SDH nor ALT are good monitors of chronic liver disease in which permanent liver cell damage has occurred but is not an ongoing process.

Reasons Why Your Dog ’s SDH Level Could Be High :

Sudden damage to your dog’s liver will cause high SDH levels. However they will drop rapidly after the occurrence. Small increases have been reported to occur when dogs received corticosteroid medications.

.................... DxMe