Just like in humans, the liver plays an important role in a dog's body too. The liver in dogs can fail due to a variety of reasons. These include viral and bacterial infections that affect the other organs of the body and lodge themselves in the liver. This affects the functioning of the liver, which leads to scarring and ultimately liver failure. The early symptoms of liver failure are extremely subtle and generally mistaken as some other health disorder. This is why it is important to be well-versed with the symptoms. Spotting the early symptoms of liver failure in dogs will help you take care of your pet's well-being in time.
Liver failure in dogs most commonly occurs due to an exposure to toxins. These toxins can be environmental or ingested with food and water. It has been found that there are many commercial dog foods that contain a high amount of preservatives and other substances like food coloring agents that tend to become toxic for the animal in the long run. Thus, it is important to feed the dog a healthy diet and take care of the animal's need for physical exercise. Parasites finding their way to the liver can cause cancer, bile duct obstruction, and liver disease. Liver failure tends to have a silent onset and before you know, it affects the dog's health considerably. Let us have a look at the symptoms that will help any pet owner take the necessary precautions before it is too late.
Signs and Symptoms of Liver Failure
Liver failure will affect your dog's health to a great extent. The early symptoms of liver failure are very subtle. You will find your dog happy and normal as usual. Suddenly, out of the blue, tragedy might strike and you come to know your pet is suffering from liver failure. You should keep a mental note of the symptoms mentioned below, as early detection is the key to saving your pet from all the health troubles.
☛ Loss of appetite is one of the most important symptoms of liver failure. Your dog will suddenly begin to eat less than normal or refuse to eat altogether. This causes excessive weight loss as the dog eats less than usual.
☛ Liver failure causes the liver to produce less of bile and metabolism of food decreases considerably. Fats, carbohydrates, and proteins are not metabolized properly, thus, the dog begins to lose weight.
☛ Apart from weight loss, the dog may suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. This occurs due to frequent gastrointestinal upsets.
☛ The stool passed may also contain blood streaks. As the dog loses all the nutrients as well as fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea, it turns lethargic and depressed. You will find your dog will refuse to go for walks or exercise. All that it would want to do is to lie around.
☛ The amount of bile produced reduces, and thus, the dog begins to pass pale gray stools. Bile consists of cholesterol, bile acids, bilirubin, and globulins. It helps in the recirculation of red blood cells, absorption of fats into the blood stream from the intestine, etc.
☛ Bilirubin is detoxified and sent to the intestines for excretion. It is broken down further and results in the passing of dark brown stool. When the amount of bile produced is less, the stool passed tends to become paler. This is very much indicative of liver problems in dogs.
☛ As the circulation in the liver is affected due to the scarring of liver tissues, it causes ascites. This is a condition that occurs due to low serum proteins and increase in the pressure in the veins passing through the liver. It leads to accumulation of fluid that causes a swollen, bloated stomach. This may be a sign of liver disease in dogs.
☛ Bleeding is another such symptom of liver failure that you may observe when the disease progresses to an advanced stage. You will observe blood in the urine, stool, as well as vomit. Sometimes, you will observe bleeding gums and unexplained bruises under the lips and skin.
☛ Bilirubin, as explained earlier, is broken down further in the intestines and then excreted. But, when the amount of bilirubin secreted is high and not processed properly, it will cause an orange urine. This is because bilirubin is orange in color and when improperly processed, it causes the urine to appear orange in color.
☛ The most important sign of liver failure in dogs is jaundice. You will observe the skin and white of the eyes turning into a yellow tone. This occurs due to the accumulation of biliary pigments in the body.
☛ The liver fails to process them, and thus, the levels of these pigments rise in the body. Polydipsia or excessive thirst and polyuria or frequent urination are also the key symptoms.
If you spot these symptoms in your pet, make sure you visit the veterinarian immediately. This will help in bringing the problem under control with medical help. If left untreated, it can lead to an early demise of the dog. Hope the above information has proved to be useful in helping you better understand the indicants of liver problems in dogs.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.