|Barked: Mon Jun 2, '08 7:43pm PST |
|Hi, Harry. You're very handsome in your bow tie.
I'm sure the vet explained to you what the ALT and bile acids test for.
The ALT is an enzyme made within liver cells. When there is something - anything - that makes liver cells unhappy (e.g. inflammation, injury, hypoxia, etc.) some of this enzyme can escape into the blood circulation and be elevated on a blood test. So ALT is non-specific for liver injury. Typically, we say that any result that is 2-3x the upper reference limit is considered significant (since there is some individual variation).
Bile acids indirectly tests for liver function - elevations indicate that the liver is having trouble "re-couping" bile acids, especially after a meal. This could indicate reduced liver function (which could reflect liver injury, inflammation, reduced total number of functional liver cells) or abnormal circulation to the liver (e.g. portosystemic shunts). Again, this test indicates liver function issues, but is not specific as to what type of functional problems the liver may be having.
A lot of the disease processes that could cause such elevations may manifest clinical signs - but some disease processes, e.g. portosystemic shunts - may be relatively silent or manifest signs that are hard to pick up. So, if the repeat tests STILL come back abnormal, then it might be time to do some further diagnostics, for example, your vet may order an abdominal ultrasound to visualize what's going on better (don't worry - it doesn't hurt!), or may order liver biopsy if something in the ultrasound indicates it.
The other possibility is that you are unique - the "reference intervals" established for "normal population" is based on mean +/- 2 standard deviations, and you could just be one of those lucky individuals who is normal, and whose normal values for ALT and bile acids are outside of that statistical cut-off for what is deemed "normal."
In any case, I have a few dog friends who are on raw diets, and I have never heard of this directly causing elevations in ALT activity or bile acids.
Wishing you all the best.
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