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

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

Ron Hines DVM PhD

See What Normal Blood & Urine Values Are

The Causes Of Most Abnormal Blood  & Urine Tests

See How Tests Are Grouped

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 which 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. They return to normal 1-2 weeks after the inflammation 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. The C-reactive protein test cannot tell you what the source of inflammation is or where in the body it is occurring. But it does confirm the presence of inflammation and that your pet truly has a health issue that needs to be addressed.

The C-reactive protein 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 (read here) and autoimmune disease . It also rises in cases of bacterial infection, gum (periodontal) disease,   pancreatitis,   triad disease in cats,   arthritis and fat inflammation (panniculitis). C-reactive protein level also rises in major heartworm infections. (read here) Levels can also moderately increase in dogs in early pregnancy. Endocrine gland diseases or neurological diseases issues rarely cause an elevation in C-reactive protein level. (read here) Texas A&M University’s GI Lab offers this test as a way of measuring the severity of canine small intestinal disease.  Idexx Laboratories , Antech/Mars and Cornell Veterinary School offer the test as well.

Much less is currently known about the c-reactive protein test’s usefulness in cats. Perhaps it has some usefulness when monitoring  or diagnosing FIP.  (read here)  But the test has not been found to be very useful in other feline inflammatory issues. 

The c-reactive protein test has usefulness in people as well. Elevated c-reactive protein levels in humans can be associated with obesity and bad diets. (read here & here)

Running the c-reactive protein test on your pet periodically can give you and your veterinarian an indication whether the medications and treatments being provided to your pet are improving the condition for which it is being treated.

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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