Abnormal Protein Production in Dogs

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Feb. 14, 2010

Paraproteinemia in Dogs


Plasma cells are white blood cells, which produce large quantities of antibodies, essential to the body's immune response to invasions of bacteria and viruses. Antibodies are also called immunoglobulins, small protein molecules found in the blood or other body fluids and used by the immune system to fight against foreign particles, including bacteria and viruses. 


In paraproteinemia, abnormal proteins called paraprotein (proteins in the blood or urine), or M component, are produced by a single clone (group) of plasma cells. Such production of abnormal proteins is commonly seen in plasma cell tumors and may also be seen in some other types of tumors. This condition is usually seen in middle-aged to older dogs.


Symptoms and Types


  • Generalized weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Lameness
  • Nose bleed
  • Blindness
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss




  • Cancers
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Viral Infections
  • Exposure to carcinogens (e.g., paints or solvents)




You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition, such as infections, or contact with carcinogenic substances. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination, including routine laboratory testing. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Blood testing may reveal anemia, abnormally low levels of leukocytes or white blood cells (leukopenia), or abnormally low levels of platelets (thrombocytopenia).


A biochemistry profile may show abnormally high levels of proteins in the blood, low levels of albumin (a type of protein), abnormally high levels of calcium (hypercalcemia), and high levels of urea and creatinine in the blood. The urinalysis may show the presence of protein in the urine (proteinuria). More specific testing will also be conducted to diagnose various diseases.


Thoracic and abdominal X-rays will be taken to identify where lymphoma is present. A sample of bone marrow may be taken, which will reveal more details associated with this disease. Similarly, samples from affected lymph nodes will also be taken to identify the type of cancer cells or infectious agents that are attacking the body.




If your dog is diagnosed with paraproteinemia and associated cancer, treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or any other remedies recommended by your veterinary oncologist. Antibiotic therapy may also be conducted to treat underlying bacterial infections, if present. 


Living and Management


Follow your veterinarian's guidelines for chemotherapy medication at home, as these drugs are potentially toxic and should only be used under strict guidance from a veterinary oncologist.

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