Why Is My Dog Or Cat’s C-Reactive Protein Level High?

Ron Hines DVM PhD

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

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

To see how tests are grouped, go here

Your Dog And Cat’s C-Reactive Protein Level = CRP

C-reactive protein is mainly produced in your dog or cat ‘s liver in response to inflammation or tissue damage anywhere in its body. It is one of the positive acute-phase proteins that all respond in this general way when your pet’s immune system macrophages and T-cells release pro-inflammatory cytokines. C-reactive protein blood levels go up within a matter of hours after inflammation begins and return to normal 1-2 weeks after the problem subsides.

C-reactive protein values have been used to monitor many of the causes of infection and inflammation in people and pets. You can read an e-brochure on its use in people here. This test cannot tell you what the source of inflammation is or where in the body it is located. But it does confirm the presence of inflammation and that your pet is truly ill.

This test is currently offered to veterinarians as a way to confirm and monitor the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs. C-reactive protein also increases in dogs with cancer and autoimmune disease as well as in cases of bacterial infection, gum (periodontal) disease, pancreatitis, triad disease in cats, arthritis and fat inflammation (panniculitis) and heartworm infection (ref). Levels also increase in dogs in early pregnancy. Endocrine gland diseases or neurological diseases rarely cause an elevation in C-reactive protein. (ref1,ref2) Texas A&M University offers this test as a way of measuring the severity of canine small intestinal disease.  Idexx Laboratories and Cornell Veterinary School do as well.

Much less is currently known about the test’s usefulness in cats. The test has usefulness in people as well where elevated c-reactive protein levels are associated with obesity and bad diets. (ref1, ref2)

Running the c-reactive protein test periodically can give your veterinarian an indication if the medications and treatment being provided to your pet are improving its condition.

CRP values can be used much like a much older test, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). The ESR test relies on increased blood levels of a different marker of inflammation, fibrinogen.


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