Did you know that dogs can get liver disease too? Many people associate liver disease as being a human condition, but it is a problem that is surprisingly common among our canine population. Fortunately, liver disease can be managed effectively, and this can halt its progression, meaning that your dog can still enjoy a long, happy and active life.
About liver disease in dogs
The liver is one of your dog’s most significant organs. It has a range of functions, including aiding the digestion and conversion of nutrients, removing toxic substances from your pet’s blood and helping to store vitamins and minerals for her body to use. Unfortunately, since the liver has to rid the body of such a large variety of substances, it can sustain damage from a number of different sources. This can affect its ability to function as it should and this can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms as well as having long-term health implications for your furbaby.
Liver failure can come on very rapidly – known as acute liver failure, or over the course of a number of months or years.
Symptoms of liver disease in dogs
Animals are adept at disguising the fact that they are unwell as they do not like to appear weak or vulnerable. This means that symptoms often do not become obvious until the condition has progressed. Nevertheless, there are indicators of liver disease which may present themselves, which include:
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Excessive thirst / frequent urination
- Blood in stools
- Poor coordination
Causes of liver disease in dogs
Liver failure can be caused by a variety of things. If your canine pal has chronic liver failure which has developed over a number of months or longer, advancing age is likely to be the biggest contributing factor. However, there are a number of causes which could be behind your pet being affected by liver disease. These include:
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Having consumed a toxic substance, such as chocolate, grapes or raisins, garlic or onion, or a non-food product, for example licking up a spillage of antifreeze or swallowing inappropriate medication
- A congenital abnormality
- Suffering from an endocrine disease, such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism
Treatment and management for canine liver disease
If your dog is diagnosed with chronic liver disease, the underlying cause of the condition will be the largest determining factor in how to start treatment. The primary goal of treating any liver problem is to eliminate as many harmful toxins as possible from her diet, minimize the effect that they have on her liver and promote the healing and regeneration of liver tissue.
In most instances, veterinarians will recommend a combination of the following treatments and therapies:
- Prescription medications
- Over-the-counter medications
- Dietary supplements
- Lifestyle changes (including diet and exercise)
In some cases of acute liver failure, it may be necessary for your canine companion to have immediate support in the form of fluid therapy, pain relief, management of internal ulcers, seizure control, assisted feeding and antibiotics.
You can help reduce the likelihood of your precious pet from suffering from liver disease by ensuring she eats high-quality, nutritious food, maintains her weight and gets plenty of exercise. Since a major cause of acute liver disease is consuming toxic substances, you should educate yourself on what products and substances are poisonous to your furry best friend and do everything you can to prevent her from coming into contact with them.
For further advice and support on liver disease in dogs and early detection testing services, do not hesitate to contact and speak to our veterinary team at Block House Creek Animal Hospital, your trusted vets in Cedar Park.