What Causes Of Liver Disease in Dogs: All You Need To Know

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Liver disease in dogs typically shows up as a chronic condition with the first sign being weight loss. Insufficient production of new liver cells, or hepatocytes, can cause a decrease in liver function. The liver has many functions, including the production of bile and regulating blood glucose levels. Liver disease can be caused by many factors such as toxins, poor diet, and infection.

Liver failure is a common condition in dogs that can lead to anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and eventually death. It is not well understood how the liver works in the body. When it becomes diseased it may result in “stretching” or “protrusion” of the abdominal muscles. The classic sign of liver failure is jaundice due to high levels of bilirubin.

Signs & Symptoms

Liver Disease in Dogs

Liver disease is a health problem that affects dogs of all ages and breeds. There are many possible causes, including viruses, parasites, alcohol, injury, and toxins. The liver is an important organ that filters the blood for the removal of waste products. These include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), weight loss, and lack of appetite. Some of these problems could indicate more serious conditions such as cancer that often require veterinary care.

Additionally, liver failure can result when the owner does not seek medical attention early. Liver failure causes sudden death due to other complications. Signs of acute liver failure can appear suddenly but usually, come on over days or weeks before becoming severe. If you suspect your pet has a liver problem, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Diagnosis Of Liver Disease in Dog

There are two main types of tests currently available for assessing the general condition of a dog’s liver. Liver enzymes, also called transaminases, are released into the bloodstream during times of stress or illness in order to help remove damaged tissue from the digestive system. This helps prevent further damage. For this reason, they provide useful information about how much damage to organs and tissues is occurring.

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The second type of test measures levels of bilirubin, a dark pigment produced by the breakdown of red blood cells. Bilirubin works with certain liver enzymes to protect against cell damage and inflammation caused by various forms of injury. Both tests can be performed quickly at most clinics and take only minutes to complete.

Treatments Of Liver Diseases

Liver Disease in Dogs

There are many different types of liver diseases that can be present in dogs. Liver disease is very common in dogs, with most cases being due to inflammation of the liver. There are several things veterinarians can do to treat liver disease. The first step is to put a name on it so that treatment options become more clear. Some infections and cancers affecting the liver will require immediate medical attention.

If nothing else lies behind your dog’s symptoms, there are some simple treatments you can try at home. Lactoferrin supplements have proven effective for fighting infection and strengthening immune systems. There are also herbal extracts available commercially meant to help detoxify the liver. One popular natural remedy consists of turmeric root mixed into food pellets or capsules.

Reasons & What Vet Recommend

Liver Disease in Dogs

The most common causes of liver disease in dogs are from eating too much protein and fat from animal meat. Liver disease is treatable but the best way to prevent it is to feed a high-quality diet. Food that does not have too much fat or protein is good for dogs.

Some veterinarians recommend feeding diets specifically formulated for older animals. These diets tend to have less fat than regular diets and may include liver-supportive herbs such as dandelion root. Additionally, liver diseases can be caused by consuming large amounts of fish oil supplements or other omega-3 fatty acids.

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Feeding large quantities of Epsom salt baths containing magnesium sulfate is another cause of liver failure in dogs. Parasites called tapeworms can also affect the dog’s liver. Tapeworm eggs can survive outside the body in the soil where they overwinter before hatching into larvae, infecting lake water. Larvae then migrate through the dog’s intestinal tract towards their stomach where they mature into adult worms. Adult tapeworms attach themselves to the wall of the intestine causing irritation and cramping. Such symptoms often resemble those seen when a dog has constipation so diagnosis may be difficult.

Diet To Treat Or Prevent Liver Disease In A Dog

In order to treat or prevent liver disease in dogs, pet owners should implement a good diet. The diet consists of high protein, low fat, and alcohol-free is good for dogs. This will help to maintain the liver healthy. The best type of dog food is one that offers complete nutrition and meets your pet’s needs for growth. You can find good quality diets at most grocery stores or veterinary clinics. Choose a canned diet from the supermarket if you have access to it. If you do not have access to a local market with prepared foods available, then make them at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any way to prevent liver disease in dogs

There are a number of ways to prevent liver disease in dogs. Dogs should always be fed a high-quality diet and exercise daily to promote a healthy liver. If obesity is an issue, it should be addressed as this can lead to liver disease. In addition, pets can be prescribed medication to help keep their liver healthy. It is also important to know the signs of liver disease to get appropriate treatment from a veterinarian.

What is the best food to feed a dog with liver problems?

Dogs with liver problems may have difficulty digesting some foods. A vet may prescribe a low-protein food for a dog with too much ammonia in the bloodstream. Some dogs may require a more specialized diet. Diet might be prescribed by a vet who is dealing with a dog with an autoimmune disorder of the liver. The best course of action for a dog suffering from liver trouble will vary depending on their condition.

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What foods cause liver disease in dogs?

Dogs are susceptible to liver disease caused by foods high in fat, sugar, or salt. The most common sources of these ingredients are processed meats, sugary treats, and salty snacks. When ingested excessively or too often, these types of food can lead to fatty liver disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, hypertension, hepatic lipidosis, hyperlipidemia, pancreatitis, and obesity. For this reason, it is important to know how much is too much for your dog.

Can a dog recover from liver damage?

Dog owners are often curious about the long-term effects of liver damage on their canine companions. Liver disease is a major cause of death in dogs. So many owners fear for their pet’s future health if they have already suffered liver damage. However, if the liver has not yet reached an irreversible state, there may be hope to restore it to normalcy.

Is liver failure painful in dogs?

Liver disease is one of the most common chronic canine diseases. It can range from mild to severe, with many dogs experiencing a gradual deterioration in health. Unfortunately, it is difficult to measure pain or discomfort in an animal due to liver failure in dogs. What we do know is that when the liver shuts down. It is because toxins are not processed properly and cause pain throughout the body.

What are the final stages of liver failure in dogs?

The last stage of liver failure in dogs is also known as hepatic encephalopathy. It is the result of an accumulation of toxins in the body that are not being processed by the liver. There are three stages to hepatic encephalopathy, which are manifested either through house training, appetite, or mental function impairment. The first stage is characterized by a decreased appetite and sporadic urination which can lead to dehydration and poor nutrition.


If you live with a dog, it’s likely that you’ll experience at least one liver-related issue in your lifetime. Liver disease is the result of an over-rapid accumulation of fat inside the liver cells. It can be caused by conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. While some dogs don’t appear ill after developing this condition. Many will suffer fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, and lack of coordination. Other symptoms are associated with the liver shutting down. Ultimately, if left untreated, this condition can lead to death. Fortunately, there are ways to diagnose early signs of liver issues in your dog. If you find signs then get the vet’s help before they become too sick to treat.

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