High Liver Enzymes in Dogs

High liver enzymes can indicate a liver malfunction. The liver performs several functions in the dog’s system and also secrets bile and enzymes that perform the essential functions. When the liver enzyme level is elevated, the dog will present a series of symptoms that can prompt you to get veterinarian help.

Liver Enzymes in Canines

The liver produces enzymes known as ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and SGPT (serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase). When a dog is affected by a liver condition the liver will produce an increased number of enzymes. This will lead to further complications such as:

  • Inflammation of the intestinal tract
  • Anemia
  • Heart failure

Causes of High Liver Enzymes

High levels of liver enzymes may be caused by a series of liver conditions such as:

  • Jaundice, involving the incapacity of the liver to get rid of bilirubin, which results when hemoglobin in broken down. This condition caused yellowing of eye whites and gums
  • Infectious hepatitis
  • Hepatic shunt, which is a congenital disease
  • Liver tumor

Other possible caused of elevated liver enzymes include:

  • Pancreatitis or the infection of the pancreas and will also involve the blockage of the bile duct
  • Cushing's disease, which cause an excess of adrenal hormones
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heart attack

The levels of liver enzymes may also be increased by drugs such as glucosteroids or anticonvulsants.

Symptoms of High Liver Enzymes in Dogs

The symptoms of high liver enzymes in canines may depend on the underlying condition affecting the dog. You may notice a few symptoms such as:

  • Jaundice or the yellowing of gums, eye whites and other mucous membranes
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Vomiting
  • General state of weakness
  • Irregular pulse
  • Sudden collapse
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

Some dogs may only present subtle signs which are difficult to detect. In some cases, a routine checkup can reveal the fact that the dog has elevated levels of liver enzymes.

Detecting High Liver Enzymes

Elevated liver enzymes can be detected by performing a simple blood test. If the levels are 2 to 3 times higher than the normal, the condition may not be severe. However, if the levels of enzymes are 4 or more times higher than normal, the dog is severely ill. Further investigations may be conducted to find the underlying condition leading to high liver enzymes.

Treatment Options for Dogs with High Liver Enzymes

The treatment options will be dictated by the vet’s findings and the dog’s underlying condition leading to high liver enzymes. If the dog has an infection, he may get antibiotics. In the case of a liver problem, a detox diet will be recommended and the dog may receive Denosyl, which can facilitate the recovery of the liver. The diet of a dog with liver disease should be poor in proteins and fats. The liver enzyme levels may also be reduced by lowering the dog’s sodium intake.