Liver Disease in Dogs – What You Need to Know
The liver plays several vital roles in the overall health of your dog, and unfortunately, liver disease is a serious issue that affects a lot of dogs in their lifetime. It’s important to remember that liver disease can occur in your dog for an array of reasons. It could be their age, their breed’s disposition to liver problems, the result of other untreated issues or a variety of other causes tied to toxins or genetic abnormalities.
Early signs of liver disease must be recognized and dealt with immediately to help avoid the condition from exacerbating and potentially leading to fatal results.
What Does the Liver Do?
As with humans, your dog’s liver assists with various processes throughout the body. The liver helps to create bile, which is used to aid in digestion. It also works as a filter to remove toxins and other unneeded waste from the body. Another critical role the liver plays in helping to metabolize proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to maintain a healthy body.
Most Common Forms of Liver Disease
Although there are different kinds of liver disease, they can all wreak havoc on your dog’s health and happiness. The most common types of liver disease include:
Acute Hepatitis and Acute Hepatocellular – These conditions involve damage to the hepatocyte (cells) in the dog’s body that is responsible for the metabolizing of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. These cells also assist with detoxification.
Chronic Inflammatory Liver Disease – If your dog is suffering from this type of liver disease, then they most likely dealing with chronic hepatitis, which is long-term inflammation of the liver. As the cells in the liver continue to be inflamed, progressive scaring or the formation of disproportionate fibrous tissue can occur.
Liver Cirrhosis – Cirrhosis is a dispersed hepatic disease that is typically characterized by fibrosis and abnormal regenerative nodules. It is usually irreversible in nature and is generally seen at the end-stage of many chronic liver diseases.
Cholangitis or Cholangiohepatitis – Cholangitis involves the inflammation of the bile ducts and Cholangiohepatitis is an inflammation of the hepatic parenchyma (tissue of the liver.)
Drug-Induced Liver Disease – Since the liver works as a filter, all drugs and medications pass through it. The drugs they take can aid in chronic liver disease either directly by toxic action or indirectly due to hypersensitivity or a negative reaction.
Extra Hepatobiliary Obstruction – This type of obstruction impairs the flow of bile in the biliary system between the liver and the duodenum (shortest section of the small intestine.)
Gallstones – On rare occasions, gallstones can find a way into the bile duct and obstruct its flow. A concentration of ionized calcium may play a part in the formation of these gallstones, as it is the primary component of pigment gallstones.
Tumours or Cancer – Two types of tumours typically occur in a dog’s liver – metastatic tumours and primary tumours. Primary tumours include adenoma, hepatoma and lymphosarcoma, which is the most common liver tumour found in most dogs. The most common form of liver cancer in canines is hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a malignant tumour. It forms in the tissue that lines the surfaces of the liver.
Symptoms of Dogs with Liver Disease
Now that we know the different kinds of liver disease that can affect your dog, let’s look at what some of the symptoms and signs are so we can address any potential liver issues quickly before they can get any worse. Potential signs and symptoms of liver disease in your dog include, but aren’t limited to:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Excessive urination, thirst or drooling
- A change in personality (depression, lethargy or anxiety)
- Skin issues
- Seizures (during advanced stages)
How to Prevent Against Liver Disease in Dogs
The best offence is always a good defence. There are a few things you can do to help your furry friend avoid the potential of liver disease.
A Healthy Diet
The easiest and most beneficial way to help your dog combat liver disease is to feed them a healthy diet that contains more fresh foods and less processed foods. Processed foods can have a very negative impact on your dog’s overall health and happiness. Ensure your dog is getting the right amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the foods you give them.
A canine consultation is a great way to help construct a diet plan that is right for your dog’s individual dietary needs.
Remove All Toxins from Your Dog’s Environment
This might seem like a simple one, but toxins, such as cleaning products or pesticides can be accessed by your dog and can cause severe reactions. Other toxins can be found in vaccines, but these may be unavoidable if your pet needs shots. Make sure you consult your vet about any potential risks. Never give your dog human medication either.
Regular Visits to the Vet
A healthy diet and environment are extremely important to help keep the potential for liver disease down, but regular visits to your vet are a must as well. Also, keep an eye on your dog’s demeanour and lifestyle. Make sure there are no drastic changes in their overall mood or eating habits, and if you notice any, see the vet as soon as possible.
How To Treat Liver Disease?
As with many health concerns, there is no one specific way to treat liver disease. The first step is to find the underlying problem that has led to the liver concerns. Your treatment options will depend on how soon the health issue has been caught and what caused it, but a few of the common tret ament options include:
A Change in Diet – Your dog may need to be put on a special diet to help make sure they are getting the nutrients and calories their liver needs.
Supplements – Some herbal supplements may be utilized, such as milk thistle to help aid the liver in recovery.
Antibiotics – Various antibiotics or other medications may need to be taken to help fight infection or other liver-related issues.
Surgery – If an issue with the liver has become severe, surgery might need to be done. This is usually an option in cases where a dog has to have a cyst or tumour removed.
Contact Your Canine Nutritionist today to learn more about ways to help prevent your canine companion from experiencing liver issues or the next steps to take if they are experiencing liver health problems. Let’s work together to keep your dog healthy and happy for years to come.
Take Your Dog’s Health
To The Next Level
Contact Your Canine Nutritionist for information and advice related to your dog’s nutrition and health, and how we can help support your canine friend when dealing with liver disease. Learn how the proper canine diet is vital to keeping your dog healthy and happy.