Canine Liver Disease Treatment Procedures

Canine liver disease is a serious health condition that can affect numerous body systems; the liver is responsible for a number of crucial body functions, including detoxification, storage of vitamins and minerals and the metabolizing of proteins and fats. Because of the liver's crucial role, it is capable of functioning normally in spite of damage and disease. As a result, dog liver disease may not be symptomatic until the liver has already been severely degenerated.

If your veterinarian has diagnosed your dog with canine liver failure or liver disease, he will recommend a treatment plan based on the type of condition. Some of the most common liver diseases in dogs include the following:


Often characterized by digestive problems, lethargy and fever, most types of canine hepatitis are preventable via vaccine. Certain types are incurable, but the symptoms may be managed.

Bacteria Infection

Depending on where you live, your dog may be susceptible to a variety of bacterial infections of the liver. These range in severity, but are typically transmitted through water.

Copper Toxicosis

Certain dogs have a genetic predisposition to toxic copper buildup in the liver. Copper is present in miniscule quantities in many foods and gradually accumulates over time.

Unrelated Disease

Liver damage and failure may be due to a number of unrelated primary diseases, including pancreatitis, heart failure, colitis and trauma. In these cases, the primary disease should be the main focus of treatment.

These and other liver diseases can be identified through blood tests, hemoglobin and liver enzyme readings. Occasionally a veterinarian may take a biopsy to identify an underlying disease.

Treatment Procedures for Canine Liver Disease

If your dog's liver disease is caused or exacerbated by the accumulation of a particular toxin, the first step of treatment will be to reduce or remove that toxin. In many cases, your vet may prescribe a special canine liver diet, such as a low-copper food regimen. A canine liver diet will typically include protein-rich foods like cottage cheese, as well as carbohydrates and a vitamin supplement. It is important to maintain your dog's nutritive health while not overwhelming his body's capability for processing natural toxins. Furthermore, sodium intake should be kept to a minimum.

If the liver is inflamed, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to reduce inflammation. These drugs are available by prescription only and should be carefully administered and monitored.

While your dog is recuperating, it is crucial that he not exert himself. Resting will help his body to regenerate damaged liver tissue quickly. Pain medication and antibiotics may be helpful in relieving discomfort and secondary infections.

The liver is capable of dramatic regeneration, and owners who identify liver disease in their pets early and act promptly often see their animals make a full recovery. Treatment plans may involve a combination of dietary changes, drug regimens and periods of rest. Depending on your dog and his condition, your veterinarian will help you to formulate the best treatment plan to lead your pet to a healthy recovery.