Canine Liver Treatment with Corticosteroids

Liver treatment for your pet is required when your dog suffers from some sort of condition which inhibits his liver and prevents it from functioning as it should. The liver is a crucial component of your dog's body and is responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood stream and the urine.

Without a healthy liver, these toxins can build up to dangerous levels in your dog's system very quickly, causing a variety of potential problems and even death. Corticosteroids are potent medicines which can help to reduce the problems associated with a number of liver diseases in your dog.

Types of Conditions that Corticosteroids Can Treat

Corticosteroids are not effective at treating every condition which might effect your dog's liver. Specifically, some of the conditions which corticosteroids are most effective at remedying include the following:

  • Cholangiohepatitis
  • Immune system-related hepatopathies
  • Active hepatitis of various types

Corticosteroids are used throughout veterinary medicine for their potent anti-inflammatory properties. Because each of the three above conditions are characterized by a significant inflammation of the liver, the corticosteroids that you give your pet can help to reduce the size of the liver. This is an important step toward maintaining healthy liver function and preventing damage to liver cells as a result of these three conditions. There may also be other specific liver conditions for which corticosteroids are helpful in remedying various symptoms as well, though this will be up to your vet's discretion.

Selecting a Corticosteroid for Dogs

Prednisone and prednisolone are typically the most common drugs of this type that are prescribed to dogs suffering from liver problems. These two types of corticosteroids are beneficial for their healing properties and the fact that they can also limit lymphocyte production, which in turn helps to reduce the damage to the liver cells in your pet's body.

It's crucial that you be very careful with the dosage of corticosteroids that you give to your pet. These drugs are very powerful and can have some dramatic effects on your dog. There are a number of different side effects associated with corticosteroid use in dogs, including the following:

  • Resistance to other medicines
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Depression or other mood changes
  • Allergic reactions

For the relatively high incidence of side effects of corticosteroids in general veterinary medical use, most vets will refrain from prescribing them except for acute cases. With long term liver conditions, such as active hepatitis, however, it may be necessary to continue the treatment program with corticosteroids for months or even for years. If this is the case, it's crucial that you work with your vet to periodically and regularly check on your pet's liver enzyme levels. This can be done through blood tests and lab work. You may also need to have a liver tissue biopsy done regularly to ensure that the corticosteroids are maintaining their effect over a longer period of time as well.

Ask your vet if corticosteroids may be useful for treating your pet's liver problems.