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Dogs & Liver Disease

By Sarah Tidwell, eHow Contributor

Dogs & Liver Disease thumbnail
Dogs & Liver Disease
    • Causes
      A variety of factors can cause liver disease in canines, including ingesting poisonous substances and being exposed to bacterial infections. Dogs that have health issues such as heart disease have an increased risk for liver disease. Some species of dogs simply do not rid their bodies of copper properly and therefore become at risk.


    • Dogs may experience one or more symptoms, including jaundice, pale gray stools, gastrointestinal deficiencies, bleeding disorders and ascites. Jaundice will cause a yellowing of the skin that is the result of an obstruction in the gall bladder causing toxin buildup. Pale gray stool reflects the color of a dog’s feces if he is experiencing liver problems. The bile duct can get obstructed and cause a discoloration in stool. When the liver cannot metabolize nutrients, gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, diarrhea and lack of appetite will arise. This creates lethargy and can lead to weight problems and other ailments caused by lack of nutrition. Bleeding disorders happen when clotting is interrupted due to the liver disease. Inability of a dog’s wound to scab over can be a sign of liver ailments. Ascites is a collection of fluids in the abdomen and is presented as an increased lower stomach cavity.


      • Upon suspicion of liver disease, a veterinarian will examine the abdomen to feel for an enlargement of the liver and review the color of the dog’s oral membrane for signs of jaundice. If there are no signs of liver disease after a physical examination, the veterinarian can screen the dog’s blood to check enzyme levels. In severe cases, a liver biopsy may be done to learn the condition of the dog.


      • The treatment for liver disease is determined by evaluating the cause. Some canines will be given antibiotics to kill an infection that bred the disease. If the disease was caused by trauma, the dog can be hospitalized for constant care or released to the owner and instructed to discourage activity for a number of days.

      Dietary Care

      • Providing the proper diet can be the best treatment method for dogs suffering from liver disease without an underlying cause. Optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and proteins promote liver health and aid in repairing any damage. These substances only require the liver to do minimal work because they do not contain the material of some processed foods that need extra energy to break down and digest.

    By Michelle Liew

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