Canine LIver Disease Treatment with Ursodiol (Actigall)

Canine liver disease is oftentimes addressed and partially treated with a medicine called Ursodiol. Also known as Urso or by the brand name Actigall, Ursodiol is a type of acid that is normally found in healthy livers and which can aid damaged livers in performing their functions.

The liver is responsible for synthesizing and breaking down a number of different chemicals, body biproducts and more. This is all done by means of a set of bile acid that aid in digestion and detoxification. If your dog is suffering from liver disease, read on for some helpful tips about Ursodiol.

Ursodiol Overview

Ursodiol is a naturally occurring acid that is synthesized by the liver to help with the breaking down of toxins in the blood stream. It is found in healthy bile and helps to limit the building up of cholesterol that can happen in the liver. It also reduces the amount of cholesterol that can be absorbed into the intestines. As this cholesterol builds up or is absorbed, it can lead to a number of other health problems, including cardiovascular issues and much more.

Ursodiol may also help to increase the flow of bile through the liver, which aids the liver further in being an efficient detoxification and purification mechanism for the rest of your pet's body.

Treating Liver Disease with Ursodiol

Ursodiol is specifically formulated for use in humans only. This means that there is no veterinary equivalent of the drug. However, it can legally be prescribed by veterinarians for use as an extra-label drug. Extra-label drugs are those that have approved benefits outside of the standard benefits for which they have been approved by the FDA.

Ursodiol can be used to treat a number of different chronic liver diseases, gallbladder stones and many other conditions as well. It's available in both a capsule and a tablet form, and most veterinarians recommend crushing up the appropriate dose of the medicine into a pet's food or delivering it along with a treat. The exact dosage will depend upon your dog's condition, age, gender and breed.

Side Effects of Ursodiol

Ursodiol has very few side effects in dogs. If your pet has certain gallbladder issues that are preexisting, it may not be safe. Similarly, pancreatitis, biliary obstruction and a few other conditions may preclude your pet from using this medicine. One of the only side effects of this medicine, however, is diarrhea. Otherwise, most animals experience no reaction. There is a slight chance of an allergic reaction, and some pets have sensitivity that may result in potentially serious side effects like:

  • breathing difficulties
  • choking
  • coma
  • death

Consult with your veterinarian about appropriate ways to help treat your dog, if your pet has liver disease. Ursodiol can help to restore proper liver function, but it may not be as helpful as other drugs in regenerating liver tissue. For more information, speak with a vet.