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Liver Problems in Dogs

Liver Problems in Dogs

In dogs, liver problems can surface due to many factors. What's worse, is that its symptoms are more likely to be neglected until the disease is in its final stage.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Liver is the largest organ, not only in the human body, but also in the canine body. In dogs, it is located in the abdomen, behind the diaphragm. The liver is one of the most important organs, as it has most of the biochemical pathways that are responsible for various body functions to its credit. These functions include growth, supply of nutrients, immunity, energy production, etc. As it is involved in so many biochemical processes, the liver is vulnerable to several diseases and problems.
What Causes Liver Problems?
Both, older and younger dogs are vulnerable to several liver problems. Among many causes, one in particular hints at anatomical abnormalities of the liver due to genetic defects. Similarly, infections like canine viral hepatitis and leptospirosis are also known to damage their liver. In the event of bacterial infection, bacteria enter their liver through bile ducts and lead to jaundice, rise in body temperature, abdominal pain, and liver problems. If the dog is poisoned or suffers from food poisoning, the toxins may damage the liver and cause liver disease.
Symptoms of Liver Problems
The symptoms of liver problems differ from dog to dog, depending on the underlying condition. The commonly observed symptoms include ...
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Excessive thirst and frequent urination
  • Soft gray-white feces
  • Abdominal distention due to ascites
  • Liver enlargement
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Prolonged bleeding, in the case of an injury
Treatment for Liver Problems
Treatment is mostly supportive and symptomatic. The vet may administer intravenous or subcutaneous fluids to prevent dehydration, and provide nutrition and medicines to control vomiting.

The medication prescribed for the treatment of liver problems in dogs depends on the extent and cause of liver damage. As the liver is the organ that breaks down medicines, a non-functional liver requires low medicinal doses. In the case of chronic hepatitis, corticosteroids are administered to lower the inflammation and scarring. It also helps stimulate hunger and the resultant food intake makes the dog feel healthy. Antibiotics are prescribed to cure any secondary infection due to liver problems.

For treating copper storage disease, penicillamine and zinc acetate are prescribed. The vet may also prescribe medication to control vomiting, nausea, and prevent ulcers in the stomach and intestine. Furosemide is a diuretic that is used to treat ascites. Similarly, electrolytes will be recommended to prevent fluid loss.
Dietary Supplements
The dog's diet should be altered to help it obtain necessary nutrition and calories. If the dog suffers from copper storage disease, it will have to be kept on a low copper diet. The dog will have to be fed optimum quality proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Chicken, fish, and eggs should form a significant chunk of its diet. You will have to include easily digestible carbohydrate to its diet as a source of energy. Food with high artificial additive is best avoided, and so is low levels of phosphorous and sodium in the diet.
You need to look out for various symptoms of liver problems in canines. Many times, these symptoms are overlooked and the disease reaches a critical stage, thus making treatment all the more difficult. If you have a slightest doubt about the condition of your pet dog, you should promptly consult a vet.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.