Liver Supplements for Dogs

The liver is involved in almost every process necessary to run the body, particularly detoxification, so liver supplements are crucial if your dog has low liver enzymes or is suffering from liver problems. There is no cure for liver disease, but supplements can reduce the symptoms and help your dog live longer and feel better.

Milk Thistle Supplements

Milk thistle is one of the most well-known liver supplements for both humans and canines. It has been used since the Roman empire to detoxify human livers and has recently gained popularity as a successful supplement for dogs as well.

Milk thistle is a flowering plant from the Aster family that contains 80 percent silymarin, a flavonoid compound that serves as the active ingredient. It detoxifies the liver, stimulates protein synthesis, blocks the uptake of toxins into the liver and stimulates growth of new liver cells. It also serves as an antioxidant.

To administer milk thistle, give 100 mg per 10 pounds, less if it seems to cause stomach upset in your dog. Research has shown that giving this dosage in several small doses rather than one large one is better, but not necessary. Milk thistle is available in capsule form.

SAMe Supplements

S-adenosylmethionine is another well-known liver supplement. It is produced naturally in the body by amino acids and raises glutathione levels, which are necessary for regeneration of healthy liver cells. Up to 45 percent of liver disease in dogs is caused by low glutathione levels. SAMe also improves detoxification, reduces inflammation and serves as an antioxidant.

SAMe is best if given on an empty stomach at least an hour before your dog eats. Small dogs can take around 100 mg, medium dogs around 200 mg and large dogs around 400 mg, depending on which supplement you choose. SAMe supplements are one of the most expensive liver supplements.

When using SAMe supplements, you should also add a B-vitamin supplement to your dog's diet, which also aids liver function.

Additional Supplements

Dandelion extract is shown to enhance bile flow, which the liver produces to aid in digestion and detoxification. It reduces symptoms of hepatitis and jaundice often associated with liver disease. It also has diuretic properties, which help the kidneys detoxify the body.

In a study conducted in 2003, Korean red ginseng, which is slightly different than traditional ginseng, demonstrated improved liver function and generation of new, healthy liver cells.

Supplementing with digestive enzymes can improve liver function, though it won't necessarily help with detoxification. Additional supplements may be necessary.

Gluta-DMG is another supplement designed to increase production of glutathione as well as boost the immune system for improving overall health.

There are also many liver tonics or supplements that boast combinations of the above supplements for the best liver support. Before creating your own combination of liver supplements, read the ingredients. It is possible to overdose your dog on certain ingredients if given in multiple supplements, exceeding the recommended dosage.