Liver Disease In Dogs – Symptoms, Treatment, and Diet

Liver Disease In Dogs – Symptoms, Treatment, and Diet

Liver as a vital organ performs key functions to maintain the normal health of the body. Not only in humans but also the liver activity in pets should be monitored very closely to catch the liver disease in dogs early. Any damage to the dog’s liver can be life-threatening. Being responsible for key roles and metabolic functions the liver is vulnerable to a variety of disorders and liver problems in dogs. The owner should keep an eagle’s eye on the signs and symptoms of dog liver disease in canine companions.

Signs and Symptoms of Liver Disease in Dogs

          Due to many important metabolic and synthetic functions which may include nutrient metabolism, detoxification, synthesis of proteins, storage of substances and the list goes on, you can notice diverse signs and symptoms of liver disease in dogs.

Jaundice is the most frequent sign of liver disease in dogs as well as in humans. The body of the dog lay hold of a yellowish hue, particularly in eyes, ears, and gums. A healthy liver secretes bilirubin (brown-yellowish product of RBC breakdown in the liver) from blood but a faulty liver can’t purify blood and bilirubin accumulation give a yellowish tinge to the dog’s skin called jaundice.

Another common symptom of liver disease can be hepatic encephalopathy, simply neurological signs due to liver disease in dogs. A dog can get circular movements, seizures, head pressing, stress and aimless walk.

Ascites, another condition is a result of liver problems in dogs, indicates the retention of body fluids in the abdomen.

Some other noticeable symptoms of liver disease in dogs include

  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased thirst
  • Diarrhoea
  • Behavioural changes

What Causes Liver Problems in Dogs?

There are a lot of conditions and agents that cause liver problems in dogs. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) classify the liver disease into subcategories. We will try to get most of them.    

Infections

Canine hepatitis, a viral disease, causes inflammation of the liver. It can cause the death of liver tissue and in puppies, it can be fatal.

    Leptospirosis, the bacterial infection has full potential to cause liver problems in dogs. It is a zoonotic disease means it can transfer from dogs to humans and require safety precautions while handing with the infected dog.   

    Among fungal infection, histoplasmosis and coccidioidomycosis are associated with liver disease in dogs. The diseases cause liver damage but can be treated with antifungal treatment.

   Toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection, can cause a sudden decline in liver activity by destroying the liver tissue.

   Leishmaniosis, protozoic disease affects the liver badly. The disease affects other organs as well.  

Vascular diseases

Congenital portosystemic shunt, the condition in which vessels bypass the liver by birth. So, the liver will be unable to secrete in blood.     Acquired shunt, not congenital, in dogs with liver fibrosis or blood pressure problems, vessels bypass the liver.

Poisons and Hepatotoxicity

   Due to drug metabolism, detoxification in liver many toxins hurt the liver of dog. Among these toxins, aflatoxins, free radicles and hepatotoxic drugs are notable.

Cancer of the liver in dogs

    Liver cancer may benign or metastatic can decrease liver activity.

Chronic hepatitis is also common among older dogs and often it leads to hepatic fibrosis. Other liver diseases in dogs include liver storage diseases and liver cysts.

Treatment for Liver Disease in Dogs

      Treatment for liver disease in dogs is based on the cause of the problem. After getting hands on the real cause behind complications, Veterinarian will choose best suitable therapy to avoid liver failure in dogs.

 Usually, treatment for liver disease in dogs include

  • Change in a diet for liver disease in dogs; diet contains nutrients and little or more toxins as well. Nutrients metabolism is one of the important functions of the liver. Ensuring suitable diet for liver disease in dogs can alleviate the condition by lowering the burden on the liver.
  • Supplements; vitamin B and vitamin K
  • Medication for underlying disease
  • Surgery in case of liver tumours or cyst
  • Heptatonic and antioxidants 
  • Drugs for symptoms control
  • Fluid and electrolyte therapy

Food for Liver Disease in Dogs

Because of nutrient metabolism in liver, diet for liver disease in dogs have a great impact on liver health.

Meat-based proteins can aggravate the symptoms of liver disease in dogs and burden the liver. So, food for liver disease in dogs is mainly egg-based.

The good diet for liver disease in dogs may include the following ingredients  Low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese and eggs for protein sources and oatmeal for carbohydrates.

Prevention

  • Vaccination in dogs can prevent liver problems in dogs. So, ensure vaccinating your dog.
  • Always use hepatotoxic drugs with the advice of your veterinarian.
  • In case, if your dog ingested toxic material or poison, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Feed healthy food to your pets.

Hammad Ali (DVM)