Alkaline Phosphatase in Dogs

Alkaline Phosphatase in Dogs


Julie Thomas-Zucker

Julie Thomas-Zucker has written professionally since 1996. She writes primarily for eHow and Answerbag on topics including gardening, animals and science. Thomas-Zucker worked for state and national parks in her earlier years, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Bethany University.

By Julie Thomas-Zucker, eHow Contributor

These instruments are used to test blood levels such as alkaline phosphatase.

Alkaline phosphatase in dogs is a blood test result. Blood tests measure levels of ALP or alkaline phosphatase. Phosphatase refers to any group of enzymes that remove water from the chemical compound; many tissues of the dog’s body have this enzyme. A very low alkaline phosphatase level is a genetic defect that can indicate bone defects and liver problems. Elevated alkaline phosphatase indicates the dog may have liver disease, Cushing’s disease or bone disease.

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Elevated blood levels often do not accompany any signs of illness so unless a veterinarian suspects a dog of having a liver or bone disease, the owner probably won’t know that the dog has a problem. Vets will take blood tests when a dog is injured or in preparing it for surgery. The blood test itself cannot determine where the disease is. Vets have to take additional tests to determine that.

Possible Causes

Cirrhosis, hepatitis passed on by infected dogs, benign liver disorder (nodular hyperplasia), copper storage abnormalities and cancer are some of the causes ofelevated alkaline phosphatase.

Noticeable Symptoms

Some noticeable symptoms for elevated alkaline phosphatase in dogs include discomfort, lifelessness, yellowing of whites of the eyes, weakness and pain. Increased alkaline phosphatase in dogs is a major problem.


Anything that causes the death of a number of liver cells will raise the alkaline phosphatase levels. This includes trauma, toxins, bacterial infections, blood clots, low blood pressure, shunts, bile duct blockages, pancreatitis and many other conditions. Anesthesia also can cause liver damage as well and raise the blood levels.

Expert Insight

Treatment consists of feeding the sick dog low-sodium foods and carbohydrates with a low amount of fat. This makes easy digestion possible. For a dog with liver malfunction, Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, recommends reducing afever first by fasting the dog a few days with a liquid diet until the fever goes down. As symptoms improve, Pitcairn suggests feeding the dog small amounts of lean meat without oil, eggs, well-cooked grains and grated vegetables.