Why Is My Dog Or Cat's Blood Lipase 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 Pet's Serum Lipase Level = LIP

Lipases are a group of enzymes your dog or cat produces to help it absorb and utilize fats. The one that veterinarians are most interested in is the one produced by your pet’s pancreas to aid in digestion. Your pet’s pancreatic ducts (common bile duct in cats) normally carries that lipase it to its intestine.

Anything that disrupts the lipase flow, or ruptures the pancreatic cells that produce it, has the ability to raise the level of lipase in your pet’s blood. So when your pet is ill with abdominal (tummy) signs and your veterinarian runs standard blood work profiles, and sees an elevated serum lipase level, the first thing that will come to mind will be that the pet's pancreatic might be involved.

But unfortunately, serum lipase levels are not all that accurate in determining that a pancreatic problem does or does not exist. It measures too many body lipase sources, lipase levels can fluctuate rapidly (short half-life), and pancreatic problems can exist in dogs and cats even when total blood lipase levels are normal. So an elevated level really means that other tests need to be run and that a normal total blood lipase reading should not cross pancreatic problems off your vet's diagnostic list. When your pet’s blood lipase levels are 3x normal, they are considerably more reliable in accurately pointing to the pancreas as the source. They are much less so when the elevation is less than that.


Reasons Why Your Pet’s Serum Lipase Levels Might Be High :

Less than dramatic (1.5 - 3 times normal) increases in lipase are hard to interpret. Also, almost a third of dogs with confirmed pancreatitis have normal lipase levels. The test is even less accurate in cats. So your vet must send off other test before deciding what a change in your pet’s blood lipase level might really means. Luckily, those new tests are available; and some can be run right in the office. They are the cPL, fPL, cTLI, fTLI, TLI tests. (links given below)

Acute Pancreatitis (sudden=acute), corticosteroid medications (prednisone, etc), liver disease in dogs, kidney failure (dog or cat), abdominal infections (peritonitis) digestive tract obstructions, surgery, pancreatic tumors or infection can all raise your pets serum lipase levels.

Lipemic blood samples (fatty sample), can falsely lower the lipase reading, resulting in a false-normal or subnormal blood lipase level. Hemolized blood samples can falsely raise your pet’s blood lipase readings.

Complementary Tests :

Blood amylase, pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity test (PLI, cPL, fPL), GLDH, repeat (serial) lipase tests to validate and judge progress, TLI (less valuable in cats), CBC/WBC and blood chemistry panel, urinalysis abdominal ultrasound