End Stage Liver Disease in Dogs

End stage liver disease in dogs is often one of the most painful and difficult things for an owner to witness. Liver disease affects a great number of older dogs. However, because the condition is degenerative and the liver is a very resilient, powerful organ, it's often difficult to determine that there is any problem at all through outward symptoms, until the disease has progressed to a very high degree. In fact, it's not uncommon to not be able to see any symptoms of liver problems until the liver has degenerated by about three quarters or so. If you suspect your pet may have liver disease, or if your dog does have liver disease, get him the treatment he needs to better help to manage the condition and slow his progression.

Characteristics of End Stage Liver Disease

Canine liver disease is split into different stages according to the variety of symptoms and the damage that has been done to your pet's liver. The end stage of liver disease is the one in which the liver has been almost fully consumed with dead tissue. The result is that the liver function is as low as it can get. Typically, end stage liver disease will result in a pet dying within a few days, weeks or, occasionally, months. Some of the characteristic symptoms of end stage liver disease in dogs include the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Swollen or distended abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Seizures

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it's a good idea to get him to an emergency veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

Other Information about End Stage Liver Disease

While liver disease is not fully manageable or treatable, it can be at least mediated through a careful regimen of medicine and diet. By the time your pet progresses to the end stages of liver disease, however, you can essentially just ensure that he is comfortable and monitor him for signs of pain or distress. By the time this much of your dog's liver has been destroyed, there is very little chance of maintaining stable health for any extended period of time.

Preventing End Stage Liver Disease

While you cannot treat end stage liver disease, you can take measures to prevent it. Get your pet tested regularly for signs of liver damage and elevated or lowered liver hormones. These can be your first clues into the fact that something might be wrong with your dog's liver. If you know that your pet has an earlier stage of liver disease, work with him carefully in order to ensure that you take all necessary measures to protect his health for as long as possible. This can be crucial in helping to prevent the spread of the disease and the degeneration of his organs.