Why Is My Dog Or Cat’s Bile Acid Level High or Low?
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
|What To Do When My Dog Or Cat’s Liver Tests Are High?|
|See Idexx Laboratory Report with Notes|
The Bile Acids Level In Your Dog Or Cat’s Blood
Bile acids are formed in your cat or dog ’s liver. As a portion of your pet’s bile, these acids pass through your pet’s gall bladder and bile ducts in the form of bile salts. They then move on into the pet’s upper intestine to aid in the digestion of fats.
A large portion of those bile acids are eventually reabsorbed into your pet’s body and returned to its liver through the blood stream. They are then re-secreted into the bile in an endless cycle. When your pet’s liver cells (hepatocytes) are injured, the level of bile acids in its blood tend to increase.(ref)
So a bile acid determination on your dog or cat’s blood can be a very good way for your veterinarian to detect liver problems, particularly when your pet’s ALT and bilirubin tests are only borderline elevated and difficult to interpret. Two tests are often run, one after your pet has fasted and another two hours after a light meal.
Health Problems That Can Causes Bile Acid Levels To Be Elevated In Your Pet:
Many forms of liver disease, abnormal liver blood flow (=portosystemic shunts), impaired gall bladder and bile duct function (cholestasis, biliary tract obstruction), gallstones, liver cancer, Cushing’s disease, pancreatitis, hepatic encephalopathy (your pet’s liver can no longer render the free blood ammonia generated by metabolism into less toxic urea) can all cause your pet to have abnormally high bile acid levels.
Cats that have developed hepatic lipidosis because they are not eating often have abnormally high bile acid values due to a taurine deficiency. (ref) The same situation can occur when they are fed unbalanced taurine-deficient vegetarian diets.
Lipemic blood samples can falsely increase bile acid readings.
An abnormal bile acid test is not unusual in toy breeds experiencing hepatic microvascular dysplasia.
Health Problems That Can Cause Bile Acid Levels To Be Low In Your Dog And Cat:
Long-standing intestinal disease (such as IBD when the upper portions of your pet’s intestine remain inflamed) , poor nutrient absorption (malabsorption/maldigestion), persistent diarrhea and starvation can all lower blood bile acid readings.
Dogs less than 16 weeks old may naturally have lower levels. I do not know if the is also the case in kittens.