Why Is My Dog Or Cat's Blood Lipemia Index 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


The Lipemia Index Of Your Pet's Blood - (Lipemic Blood Sample)

Some clinical chemists and labs do not differentiate between the cloudiness of blood serum samples that contain large amounts of tiny fat droplets (lipemia) and those that contain tiny grains of other materials (turbidity). I do. If you consider them to be the same, read the source and causes of turbidity and add them to this explanation.

Shake some olive oil in a bottle of water and you will see that it becomes hazy with tiny droplets of emulsified oil. The same thing happens to your pet’s blood after a meal – its blood serum (or plasma) becomes milky.

Like a hemolized sample or one that just stood too long at room temperature, lipemia can throw off your pet’s blood value reading. (ref) To avoid lipemia and other collection problems, fast (no food) your dog before your veterinary visit. If this is not an emergency, call ahead to find out when lab pickups are, find a quiet time at the clinic so your pet will remain calm or have a house call vet visit you and draw the sample.



Some laboratories use lipemia and turbidity synonymously. That is not completely correct. If you scroll down to the Ts you will find some of the causes of true turbidity. Some laboratories report back the degree of lipemia in your pet’s blood sample using an index. It roughly follows the triglyceride level in your pet’s blood at the time the blood was drawn.

[ <30 = no lipemia or turbidity, 30-60= slight lipemia or turbidity, 60-120=moderate lipemia or turbidity, >120=marked lipemia or turbidity ]

The higher the number, the more likely for blood values to be thrown off. Marked lipemia can falsely elevate your pet’s bilirubin and hemoglobin, readings, and falsely decrease your pet’s blood electrolyte ion readings (sodium, chloride, phosphate, calcium, and to a lesser degree, potassium).

Some laboratories have methods that can improve the accuracy of tests when the serum sample is lipemic (ultracentrifugation, lipid clearing agents).

Reasons Why Fasting Pets Might Still Have Lipemic Blood Serum :

All the health problems that raise the fatty components of blood even when they are fasting can also predispose them to lipemic serum. They include:

Diabetes, Pancreatitis, hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease, failure to eat/starvation, corticosteroid medications and kidney disease (nephrotic syndrome) can all, occasionally, cause lipemic blood serum.

Your pet's lipemia index (lipemia) can also increase in late pregnancy. early milk production (lactation) or when depopovera is given to cats.

More rarely, genetic tendency to high blood fats (familial hyperlipidemias and hypertriglyceridemias ,particularly in miniature schnauzers, Brittany Spaniels and beagles) have been responsible for lipemic blood samples.

Genetic defects in the fat metabolism in certain cats (hyperchylomicronemia in Siamese cats, domestic short hair and Himalayan cats), growth hormone disturbances (acromegaly) are some other possible uncommon causes.