Your dog’s liver is able to function until 80% of its cells become too damaged to process anything further. This is known as liver disease in dogs. Canine liver disease is a very serious illness that requires immediate medical attention by a veterinarian. Because of your dog’s powerful function, symptoms of liver failure in dogs may not appear until the infection is quite serious. The most important part of treating liver disease in dogs is to first determine the cause. There are many illnesses and infections that could cause liver failure in dogs, from bacterial illnesses, to heatstroke, to heart worms. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose liver disease in dogs by a physical exam, examining symptoms and a few blood tests. Once the cause is diagnosed, treatment can begin.
Liver disease in dogs should never go ignored. As this disease continues to deteriorate the liver, symptoms will be more frequent and more severe. Liver failure in dogs will cause the liver to become firm and rubbery, which may lead to serious illnesses and infections of other organs in the body. Some illnesses may not be reversible, therefore it is important to start treatment if you know your dog could have canine liver disease, or if any symptoms are present. When in doubt, always talk to your veterinarian. Liver disease in dogs may be serious, but often times, it can be treated with the right medications, diet change and therapy.
- 1 Crittersitca’s Mission
- 2 About Canine Liver Disease
- 3 What are the Signs of Liver Problems in Dogs?
- 4 Is Liver Disease Treatable in Dogs?
- 5 How to Prevent Liver Disease in Dogs
From a list of possible causes of liver disease in dogs, to any and all symptoms that may appear, Crittersitca are your best resource for all things to do with canine liver disease. Liver failure in dogs is a very serious condition, and there are many things to know and understand about this disease. We provide readers with the best information regarding different causes of liver disease in dogs, as well as how to identify this disease in order to seek the best treatment possible for a full recovery.
Liver disease in dogs should never be ignored. We provide readers about information about how the liver works, and how important this organ is in your dog’s everyday activities. When the liver becomes compromised, it can be very painful for your dog and very dangerous for his body. Leaving liver disease in dogs for too long may cause permanent damage to the liver, damage to surrounding organs, and even death. Learn more about liver disease in dogs and how to recognize it in order to provide your dog with the best treatment and therapy possible.
If your dog’s liver becomes too ill, a condition known as cirrhosis may occur. Cirrhosis is irreversible.
About Canine Liver Disease
The liver is actually one of the largest internal organs in the body. A dog’s liver is used to clean the blood by removing toxins, regulate chemical levels in the blood, produce enzymes to help digest foods, turn fat into vitamins, and store sugars until they are needed. The liver is located under the diaphragm in the abdomen of your dog. When the liver becomes ill or damaged, dog liver disease may occur. Dog liver disease may be acute or chronic, and may be caused by a number of different things.
When the liver becomes infected, it will swell and begin to malfunction. Over time, dog liver disease will cause the liver to become firm and rubbery, which can be dangerous and lead to a serious condition known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis cannot be cured, therefore it is extremely important to be able to diagnose and treat dog liver disease as soon as symptoms are present. First, it is important to understand how your dog may have contracted liver disease.
What Causes Liver Problems in dogs?
Your dog’s liver is able to function properly until 80% of its cells are destroyed. This can be very dangerous for your dog. In order to seek treatment, it is important to understand where dog liver disease may come from. There are a number of causes of dog liver disease:
- Liver shunts
- Severe or recurring ear infections
- Heart worms
- Ingestion or exposure to chemicals such as lead, iron, rat poisons, insecticides and arsenic
- Consuming toxic plants such as algae, mushrooms or lilies, or other foreign objects
- Constant exposure to mold
- Trauma to the liver or surrounding organs
- Gall bladder disease
- Overuse of antibiotics, dewormers or anti-fungal medications
As you can see, there are many causes of dog liver disease. Sometimes, dog has this disease for an unknown reason. Dog liver disease can be hereditary, and certain breeds such as Dobermans, Dalmatians, West Highland Terriers, Pugs and Miniature Schnauzers are known to be more susceptible to dog liver disease.
Determining the cause of your dog’s case of liver disease may be very helpful for treatment purposes. Always take note of recent events such as the use of chemicals or an accident that may have occurred and symptoms that may be present and have this information ready to give to your veterinarian.
What are the Signs of Liver Problems in Dogs?
Often times, early stages of liver disease in dogs do not display any symptoms. This is because your dog’s liver is a very hardworking organ and will fight off as much bacteria and virus as it can. However, as dog liver disease progresses, symptoms may begin to show. As soon as symptoms are present, it is imperative to bring your dog to the veterinarian to begin treatment right away. If you know that your dog has consumed something or has been hurt in a way that could affect his liver, do not wait until symptoms start to show.
Your vet will diagnose dog liver disease by performing a series of tests. These tests include a physical exam, and blood tests. Blood tests will determine the level of toxins and enzymes that may be residing in the liver. Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate form of treatment depending on your dog’s particular cause of liver disease.
Symptoms of Dog Liver Disease
Symptoms may vary depending on the cause and severity of your dog’s case of liver disease. Dog liver disease symptoms may start out slow, or they may hit right hard right away. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms of dog liver disease:
- Jaundice, in the eyes, skin and mucous membranes
- Loss of appetite
- Neurological changes, such as seizures or pacing
- Pale gums, may be yellow or gray in color
- Weakness and lethargy
- Urine that is bright yellow or orange in color
- Feces that is a pale gray color
- Increased water consumption
- Swollen abdomen, caused by the liver swelling
- Weight loss
- Obvious signs of pain
- Foul breath
- Bleeding, which may appear in feces, vomit or urine
Keep in mind that early stages of dog liver disease may not display any symptoms. As this disease progresses, symptoms may become more frequent or more severe. Dog liver disease is most common in older dogs, or dogs that are known to be susceptible to it. It could cause serious symptoms and side effects, including neurological disorders and organ damage. If liver disease in dogs is caught early enough, it can be treated quickly and the success rate is usually high.
Some of the most common causes of liver disease in dogs include cancer, heart worms hepatitis and trauma to the liver.
Is Liver Disease Treatable in Dogs?
The answer is yes, the first step to treating dog liver disease is to determine the cause. Sometimes, treatment can be much easier if the cause of dog liver disease is determined and targeted right away. However, sometimes dog liver disease treatment can be a little more tricky. This is because some causes are much more serious and require medical attention on their own. For example, if your dog’s case of liver disease is caused by a bacterial infection, often times antibiotics are used to treat the illness before liver disease in dogs treatment can begin.
There are many different methods of treatment for your dog’s case of liver disease. Most times treatments will need to be more than just in hospital. This means, dietary changes, supplementations and frequent check-ups may need to be administered in order to ensure your dog’s liver fully recovers. In serious cases of dog liver disease, surgery and extensive treatment such as chemotherapy may be required.
What is the Treatment for Liver Disease in Dogs?
The liver is one of the main organs that helps to break down medications. Some liver disease in dogs treatments include:
Antibiotics – These are used in case of a current infection or if your dog is at risk for a secondary infection.
Anti-nausea – Anti-nausea medications that contain sucraflate and cimetidine may be given to help reduce vomiting and diarrhea caused by dog liver disease. These also may help to prevent stomach ulcers.
IV fluids – Electrolyte or potassium fluids may be given on an IV during treatment to ensure he does not become dehydrated.
Zinc – If your dog’s liver problems are caused by copper storage disease, zinc may be used in treatment to help reduce the copper levels in your dog’s liver.
Steroids – These help to reduce swelling and scarring in the liver. Often times, corticosteroids or glucocorticoids are used to treat diseases that have caused liver disease, such as hepatitis or diabetes.
Diet – Diet is extremely important for the after-care of liver disease in dogs treatment. These foods are very easily digestible, and may even be made at home. Protein is important, but needs to be restricted. It is recommended that protein comes from dairy or eggs rather than a meat source, as these are easier to digest. You may also give your dog some supplements to help support liver function. These include vitamin C, K, E and milk thistle.
Blood transfusions – In more serious cases, blood transfusions may be required. These are usually only required if liver disease causes bleeding disorders.
Chemotherapy – If your dog is suffering from liver cancer, a severe form of liver disease, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used. These are usually very risky procedures and can be quite expensive.
Although the liver may become infected and may take awhile to heal, it is a very powerful organ that fights off illness and recovers many different ways. Most treatment options have a very high success rate, which depends highly on the cause of your dog’s case of liver disease. Always talk to your veterinarian about different options available for treatment of liver disease.
How to Prevent Liver Disease in Dogs
Liver disease is one of the most common causes of death in dogs, and while it is more common in older dogs it can affect younger ones as well. It can sometimes be found alongside another illness, such as pancreas disease, but more often than not it is found alone. It progresses very quickly so early detection is crucial.
There are many different things that can cause liver disease in dogs, ranging from chemicals to trauma. Other diseases, such as cancer, can also cause liver failure. It can also be a hereditary problem passed along through the dogs genes. When you first get your dog you should be sure ask about potential health problems including liver disease as it could be very valuable information later on.
While you cannot always prevent liver disease in dogs there are still quite a few preventative steps you can take to ensure the well-being of your pet.
- Keep away all cleaning supplies, chemicals, and other toxic items
- Be sure your dog gets plenty of exercise
- Keep your dog away from any toxic plants
- Have fresh water always available
- Keep your house mold free
- Treat any infectious diseases as soon as possible
- Ensure proper nutrition – low in fat and high in fiber
As with many diseases the faster you can get your dog treatment the better! Keep a look out for these signs that will let you know your dog may have liver disease:
- Weight loss
- Increase in thirst
- Increase in need to urinate
- Decreased appetite
- Soft, gray feces or diarrhea
- Abdominal distension
The liver is a vital part of both human and canine life and it is important to make sure we take good care of it. It helps our bodies with many different aspects from metabolism to removing toxins from our systems. Signs of liver damage should be taken very seriously and treatment should be sought immediately.