Canine Liver Disease

Canine liver disease is a broad clinical term used to describe all types of liver problems in dogs. Since the symptoms of liver disease are not exhibited until it's in a more advanced stage, pets often succumb to liver failure due to lack of prompt treatment. It's important to know the symptoms, forms and treatment options of liver disease in order to diagnose and help ailing pets.

Functions of the Canine Liver

The liver is responsible for the metabolism of the components of food that include carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It also produces bile and aids in the digestion of food. The liver is involved in several functions of the body including the detoxification of waste. Despite the presence of early liver disease, it performs its function along with other organs, which makes it difficult to diagnose. Pet owners should monitor any change in the dog's behavior and seek prompt medical help if they notice the symptoms.

Symptoms of Dog Liver Disease:

  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen stomach
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Grayish stools

Diagnosis of Canine Liver Disease

Liver disease in dogs can develop due to varying causes. During the diagnosis, the vet will attempt to detect the underlying cause that's leading to liver damage or failure. Consumption of toxic substances, bacterial infections, hereditary diseases and tumors are the most common causes of liver disorders. During diagnosis, the vet will perform a physical exam to determine a swollen stomach or an enlarged liver. After a thorough evaluation of the clinical symptoms, the vet will conduct a blood and urine test. A blood test will detect the amount of liver enzymes and bile acids present. Urine tests will reveal elevated levels of bilirubin, which is known to cause jaundice in pets. Urine analysis will also help determine abnormal kidney function. The vet will then perform an abdominal ultrasound to detect enlarged liver and internal organ damage. Tumors that are detected in an ultrasound may be subjected to biopsy. Although biopsies can determine malignant tumors, it's not performed on all pets.

Treatment of Canine Liver Disease

The main aim of the treatment is to help the liver recover with medication and dietary modifications. Pets that suffer from liver disease caused due to toxicity are also treated with medication to suppress the damaging effects of the toxins and promote healing. High quality sources of proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for pets suffering from liver disease. Pet owners should avoid the use of highly processed food or food that contains high amounts of chemicals. Vitamins and supplements are necessary to help the liver restore its regular functioning. Bacterial infections present in the body are treated with a course of antibiotic medication. Corticosteroid therapy might also be necessary to treat dogs suffering from internal inflammation and ulcers. Although medicines are effective to treat various internal abnormalities, they shouldn't be prescribed in high doses, as they become counter-productive to the healing of the liver.

Since canine liver disease occurs due to various factors, it's best to determine the underlying ailment and take measures to prevent liver failure.