Gall Bladder in Dogs

The gall bladder is a small pear shaped sac-like organ that is attached to the liver and the pancreas and is an important organ in the digestive system of the dog. It stores the bile that is secreted by the liver throughout the day and releases it as required to the intestine, to help in the process of digestion in general and the absorption of fats in particular.

Bile is a yellowish green fluid that is produced in the liver, stored and concentrated in the gall bladder and released into the intestine by the bile duct.

Problems Associated with the Canine Gall Bladder

Gall bladder problems in dogs are of two types namely obstructive and non-obstructive problems. There are several obstructive problems associated with the gall bladder. Swelling of the pancreas or scarring of the pancreatic tissue can cause the bile duct to compress and the gall bladder to distend. This would prevent the bile from being released into the intestines as it’s normally released. This bile would accumulate in the gall bladder where it would thicken and become more concentrated and result in inflammation of the gall bladder and production of gall bladder stones. The accumulated bile would then be released into the dog’s blood stream and the normal process of digestion would be adversely affected. Gall bladder stones, thus produced, can also cause an obstruction and block the bile duct, and distend the bladder. Cancer is another cause of an obstruction of the bile duct.

Non-Obstructive Problems of the Gall Bladder

One non-obstructive cause is the inflammation of the gall bladder due to a bacterial infection. The gall bladder can also get ruptured following trauma, such as an accident or an injury. This is a serious problem as the bile can leak into the abdominal cavity and cause peritonitis. This should be treated at the earliest by a veterinarian.

Symptoms of Gall Bladder Problems

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Discomfort in the abdomen
  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness

Diagnosis of Gall Bladder Diseases

The veterinarian has to correctly diagnose the cause of the gall bladder disease as the symptoms are common to many other diseases. A physical examination, medical history, blood and urine tests and abdominal ultrasonography will all help the veterinarian during diagnosis. Once the underlying cause of the disease is identified, treatment can be planned accordingly.

Treatment of Gall Bladder Diseases

If the cause of the disease is non-obstructive, it’s treated with antibiotics and other medications that help stimulate the production of bile and move it to the intestine. If the cause is obstructive, surgery is indicated. Tumors or gall bladder stones can be removed and in some cases, such as ruptured gall bladder or cancer, the bladder itself needs to be removed. Although the surgery that involves the removal of the gall bladder is not without complications, dogs can live full and active lives after their gall bladder is completely removed. Pets that have had their gall bladders removed can expect to live a normal life span, although they should be placed on low fat diets.

Providing your pet with a healthy and nutritious diet that is low in fats and high in proteins is the best way to prevent gall bladder problems. You should conduct a vet check at the earliest if your pet displays any of the clinical signs associated with gall bladder problems in order to resolve them and ensure the health and well being of your pet.