Why Is My Dog 's Triglyceride Level Abnormal ?
Why Is My Cat 's Triglyceride Level 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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The Triglyceride Level Of Your Pet's Blood
Triglycerides are a form of fat or lipid. They a the main way that fat that is required for energy gets transported through your dog or cat’s body.
Much of the triglycerides in your dog or cat 's blood comes directly from the food it eats, but some is manufactured in the pet’s liver (the liver can change most any energy source to triglyceride or cholesterol).
Your body was designed to utilize food carbohydrates - moving throughout the body as glucose - as a major source of energy. Many dogs are not as efficient in doing that and your cat has a really hard time subsisting on a high carbohydrate diet.That is why fat in your pet's diet is more necessary to them than to you.
The triglycerides found in meat tend to be saturated fat. Dogs and cats have evolved to handle saturated fats much better than we humans. That is why they do not suffer from heart attacks.
Besides being an important source of energy to your dog or cat, triglycerides are essential components of the walls (cell membranes) of all cells in its body.
The level of triglyceride and cholesterol in your pet’s blood tend to increase and decrease together (read about the causes of high and low cholesterol here). When one or both are high, you pet is said to have hyperlipemia. That situation is normal after a meal (lipemia). But when it persists throughout the day, problems such as nerve and vision difficulties, seizures, pancreatitis and fatty skin patches (xanthomas) can develop.
Reasons Why Your Pet’s Triglyceride Level Might Be High (Hyperlipidemia, Hypertriglyceridemia) :
The most common cause of elevated triglyceride levels is a recent meal (post-prandial blood sample). That is why blood samples from your dog or cat, sent for triglyceride/cholesterol assay, need to be obtained no sooner than 6 hours after their last meal. If the levels came back high on a non-fasting pet, run them again after more time passed since its last meal.
Fat, inactive dogs and cats are more likely to have persistently high triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Over time, allowing your pets to remain that way will have negative effects on their health.
In dogs, hypothyroidism is a common underlying cause of persistent high triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Usually, the increase in cholesterol is higher than the increase in triglycerides.
Hepatic lipidosis is common problem in cats that will not eat (anorexia). It can cause the cat's triglyceride level to be high.
Diabetes cats and dogs often have high triglyceride and cholesterol levels until the weight loss of late, uncontrolled diabetes begins. Usually, the increase in triglycerides is higher than the increase in cholesterol. High triglyceride/cholesterol levels in these pets make them harder to control with insulin injections (insulin resistance).
Pets with sudden (acute) pancreatitis often have high triglyceride levels. It is unclear if it is the cause, or result, of pancreatitis but they are often found together.
High corticosteroid levels, either from medications or due to over-active adrenal glands (Cushing’s disease) can cause elevated triglyceride levels.
Triglyceride levels can also be high in chronic liver disease (cholestasis) and occasionally in chronic kidney disease (nephrotic syndrome) as well.
Some breeds of dogs and cats have high triglyceride and cholesterol levels due to genetic tendencies (just born that way). These problems have complicated names, such as Idiopathic or inherited hyperchylomicronemia, familial or primary hyperlipidemias, hypertriglyceridemia of schnauzer dogs.
Breeds associated with the problems include miniature schnauzers, Brittany spaniels, beagles, Siamese, domestic shorthair and Himalayan cats. These pets need a well thought out, low fat diet - probably with a fish oil supplement.
A peculiar form of diabetes in cats, due to a tumor in the pet’s pituitary gland (adenoma-induced acromegaly) can also cause high blood triglyceride levels in cats due to over production of growth hormone.
Methimazole (Tapazol), given to hyperthyroid cats, is said to sometimes elevate your pet’s triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Megestrol and depopovera – occasionally given to cats with Eosinophilic granuloma complex or miliary dermatitis can also increase triglyceride levels, as can corticosteroid medications.
When your dog or cat is overweight and your veterinarian has eliminated other possible explanations for its high blood triglyeride level, a diet change could be in order.
Complementary Tests :
CBC/WBC and blood chemistry values including a blood glucose screen for diabetes (dog) (cat), cholesterol level, Thyroid panel for hypothyroidism (free T-4) , ACTH stimulation test or low dose dexamethasone suppression tests for Cushing's disease , TLI, cPL® or fPL® for Pancreatitis, fructosamine test for diabetes, urinalysis including protein:creatinine ratio, microalbuminuria test