Food for Healthy Livers in Dogs
The liver does the same thing in dogs as it does in humans.
- Produces proteins and hormones
- Clears toxins and waste from blood
- Makes clotting agents to stem bleeding
- Helps the immune system ward of infections by producing immune factors
- Helps digest fats and other nutrients
- Stores vitamins, iron and energy
The liver is a very robust organ. Even if it is 75% damaged it can still perform all the functions it needs to. But that robustness does not mean you shouldn’t help protect your dog from liver disease.
What causes liver disease
Infections or poisoning can cause short term liver damage. If your dog catches a hepatitis condition, the swelling of the liver tissue can cause permanent scarring and damage. The liver can also be affected by tumours.
Some breeds of dog such as Bedlington Terriers are genetically prone to factors which can cause liver disease. In Bedlington Terriers for example, excess copper can build up in the liver.
Similarly, genetic inheritance can play a part. Problems with the liver’s blood vessels can be inherited by a dog from its parents.
What are the symptoms
There are two main categories of liver conditions. Acute liver diseases are more easy to spot. Vomiting and diarrhoea, swelling of the body, jaundice and excessive thirst and urination are all signs that your dog is suffering from an acute liver condition. They might also be experiencing abdominal pain and fever.
Chronic liver disease is a longer term condition and the signs can be vaguer and more difficult to spot. Loss of appetite, lethargy and weight loss can all be indicators of chronic liver problems, but these are also signs of other troubles.
In very severe cases, the build up of toxins in blood caused by a malfunctioning liver can cause your dog to have disorientation or even seizures.
In any case, it is obvious that you should get your dog to a vet to be checked out if any of these symptoms show themselves.
With the wide ranging nature of symptoms it can be tricky for a diagnosis of liver disease to be made. The tests can include blood and urine samples, ultrasound scans of the liver and even biopsies.
Likewise the range of treatments can be very varied – ranging from hospital stays, to intravenous feeding, to regular medication.
In all cases however, the diet of your dog will be critical to seeing them live as healthy a life as possible.