The liver is an important organ key to the removal of toxins and other waste products in the body. The loss of function can create a myriad of chronic and acute problems in your dog.
The liver is a part of the digestive system and plays a role in many functions of the body. Waste products are filtered through the liver and turned into ingredients that turn into the stool in the body. The liver also plays a role in the breakdown and metabolism of fat as well as its storage.
The lack of fat intake causes the body to break down fat stores, while an increased fat intake causes the liver to store excess fat. The liver also plays a part in breaking down many medications into more usable parts or for filtration out of the body.
What is Liver Disease in Dogs
In the case of a liver disease, several things can cause the liver to malfunction. The loss of liver function in the case of cirrhosis or damage to the liver cells can adversely affect the liver’s ability to filter out wastes or break down products. Certain medications, illnesses, infections, and chronic diseases can destroy liver cells. Inflammation and infection of the liver can also cause a similar decrease in function. Fatty Liver Syndrome (Hepatic Lipidosis) is another cause of liver dysfunction, usually due to a rapid mobilization and attempted breakdown of fats in the body. These fats then overwhelm the liver at once, leading to a decreased ability to perform normal functions.
Inflammation and infection of the liver can also cause a similar decrease in function. Fatty Liver Syndrome (Hepatic Lipidosis) is another cause of liver dysfunction, usually due to a rapid mobilization and breakdown of fats in the body. These fats then overwhelm the liver, leading to a decreased ability to perform normal functions.
Liver disease may be confused with other gastrointestinal tract issues as well as gallbladder problems. Dogs may appear jaundiced (yellow coloring of the skin, mucous membranes, and eyes) and may have abdominal pain or itching on the skin around the abdominal cavity. They may have diarrhea or discolored stools or may experience a loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting.
Can I Prevent Liver Disease in Dog
Liver disease may be preventable in some cases related to fatty liver syndrome and medication use. Limiting medication use or finding low dosages that work as well can help keep the liver in a better shape. Some medications may also come in broken down forms or may be passed through other organs in the body first, making them less harsh on the liver. Dogs that are having trouble eating or are overweight may be prone to a fatty liver syndrome and should be put on a careful exercise routine, including a change in the diet and gradual weight loss, to prevent problems from occurring.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Liver Disease in Dog
If liver disease is suspected, a veterinary appointment is recommended. Your vet will perform a complete exam and may request additional tests to help rule out other causes. Additional tests may include stool and urine analysis, blood work, and X-rays.
X-rays can be used to look for an enlarged or swollen liver- a sign of illness – and blood work can help look for elevated blood values, such as ALP, ALT, and AST. These may indicate a problem with the normal functioning of the liver and breakdown of chemicals in the body.
The treatment plan depends on the cause of liver issues as well as its severity. Minor tumors or growths leading to malfunction of the liver may be removed without adversely affecting the overall function of the liver. The fatty liver disease may be treated and monitored through careful diet and exercise plans.
By changing medications, it may be possible to relieve some of the load on the liver, helping restore the normal functioning. More severe cases may require hospitalization and fluid treatment to help take some of the strain off the liver and allow it to heal.
Severe liver disease may become a case of palliative care or keeping your dog as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. As the liver disease progresses, other organs may begin to have problems or there may be a toxic buildup in the body. The treatment of secondary symptoms, such as edema (swelling of the tissues in the body) and jaundice, may help prolong the quality of life of your furry friend. Unfortunately, the body cannot function without a liver, so complete damage to the liver could mean danger signs. Unfortunately, euthanasia may be the only option left after this.
Natural Remedies for Treating Liver Disease in Dogs
Milk thistle is one of the most commonly used natural supplements for liver health and support. Many dogs have had positive results in treating and increasing liver function with minor disease, leading to an increased quality of life. Additional supplements that may be beneficial to liver health include Lycopodium 30C, Dandelion, Phosphorus 30C, Horehound, Plantain, and Natrum Sulphuricum, among others. By meeting with a naturopathic or holistic veterinarian in your area, you can help determine the best action plan in supporting your furry friend’s liver health and function.