Why Is My Cat or Dog’s Blood Amylase Level High?

Ron Hines DVM PhD

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

The Amylase Level In Your Pet’s Blood

Amylase is an enzyme produced by your dog or cat ’s pancreas. Small amounts are also produced in the pet’s intestine and liver but most amylase that finds its way into your pet’s blood stream comes from its pancreas. The great majority of amylase enzyme normally passes into your pet’s intestine through the two pancreatic ducts in dogs and the common bile duct in cats to help in the digestion of complex carbohydrates (starches).

Health Problems That Can Cause Too Much Amylase To Be Present In Your Pet’s Blood:

Elevated amylase levels are of little significance in cats. In dogs, it is a bit more reliable indication of acute pancreatitis. Amylase blood levels can also increase in pancreatic cancer, sudden severe trauma such as car accidents and moderately when chronic kidney disease (especially in cats) is present.

 Lipemic (fatty) blood samples or hemolized samples (broken red blood cells) can result in a falsely elevated amylase reading.

Medications that can increase amylase levels include metronidazole (Flagyl®) and the diuretic, furosemide (Lasix®).

Amylase levels in your pet’s blood can change rapidly (hour by hour) because the compound has as short life span. Because they vary so widely, the amylase value your veterinarian obtains can be quite hard to interpret. Values less than twice the reported normals may not be important (not significant for pancreatitis) . When pancreatitis is suspected in a dog or cat with a tender or bloated abdomen, abdominal fluid taped from the tummy is more likely to have a higher amylase reading than blood from the same pet.

Health Problems That Can Cause Too Little Amylase to be present in Your Pet’s Blood Stream:

I know of none.

Corticosteroid medications given when a dog or cat arrives as an emergency patient can lower the amylase reading.

Complementary tests:

CBC and blood chemistry panellipase , pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity tests, blood glucose, calcium, phosphorus, cholesterol , BUN, creatinine, , ALT, AP, TLI, urinalysis. Repeated amylase tests, or , better yet, ones that focuses on the pancreas better – like the TLI or pancreatic-specific lipase tests (fPL/ cPL)


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