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Equine Health Resource

Plasma Total Protein & Albumin



Protein levels in blood are an important indicator of health. High levels can indicate dehydration. Low levels can indicate loss of protein from the blood, usually into the intestinal or urinary tract.

The bulk of Total Protein is made up of several important proteins, globulin and albumin, both of which have critical roles in the body.

Albumin is a critical protein that acts as the “sponge” that keeps the liquid part of blood within the vessels. Excessive loss of albumin causes fluid to leak into the tissues, causing swelling (edema).

One of the most common causes of loss of albumin in horses is intestinal disease, especially colitis. In this case, the damaged intestine allows these proteins to seep out.

For this test, blood is collected into a blood tube. Total protein is estimated in a simple laboratory test. The determination of albumin is also commonly performed in veterinary clinics.


This is a simple, fundamental and inexpensive test, performed quickly in most clinics. The test is frequently performed along with Packed Cell Volume (PCV) also known as Hematocrit (HCT).


Levels of protein and albumin also relate to hydration. Dehydrated horses have higher levels.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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