Diagnosing Dog Liver Disease Through Biopsies and Blood Tests

Dog liver disease has a number of causes, and treatment involves medication as well as a change in lifestyle and diet. There is no ideal test for a dog with liver disease, so diagnosis can be difficult.

Several Options for Diagnosing Liver Disease

Your vet may choose a combination of blood, urine or bile acid tests to determine the state of your dog's liver health. Your vet will certainly palpitate the organ with his hands to feel for inflammation. X-rays and ultrasounds may be necessary; your vet may also want to perform a fine-needle biopsy of the liver tissue.

Blood Tests and Urinalysis

Blood tests measure the level of liver enzymes in your dog's blood. Abnormal levels do not necessarily indicate liver disease; they may be due to other conditions, or medications your dog might be taking.

Urinalysis and blood serum enzyme tests measure the efficiency of bile acid circulation. Abnormal levels of bile acid circulation indicate problems with liver function.

Biopsies and Other Options

If your vet suspects liver disease, he may want an x-ray or ultrasound to give him a visual interpretation of the state of your dog's liver.

A liver biopsy can help your vet understand exactly how much damage has been done to the liver. A fine needle biopsy will remove a very small amount of your dog's liver tissue.