Dogs are already known for their ability to interact with humans and seem to understand their owners as no other animal does. Not only do they share many characteristics, but they are also similar in the way they hurt.
Just like humans, dogs can be exposed to many hazards that can lead to bad consequences and severe diseases. For example, they are vulnerable to many toxins, pesticides, and other environmental risks that are cleared by the liver. This is one of the most important organs for the dog because not only does it help remove the toxins from its system, but it also helps with digestion and blood clotting. If it isn’t functioning well, then it can lead to liver disease. So, if you suspect that your dog is suffering from it, take a look at our guide which elaborates on what liver disease is and how it can be treated using supplements to give liver support for dogs and making dietary changes.
What causes liver disease in dogs?
Liver disease refers to any abnormal functioning of the liver. Liver disease can be acute or chronic, and the causes for the development of this illness depend on the type. For example, acute liver disease, which is more common, is caused after exposure to toxic substances, or a tumor, gallstones, and trauma which can further lead to other organs to fail. Chronic liver disease can develop as a result of viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections as well as toxins and build-up of copper in the liver. Sometimes puppies can be born with a genetic condition called portosystemic shunt which affects the blood circulation in the liver. In any case, a liver biopsy is usually done which determines the type of liver disease and its cause.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of liver disease are most noticeable when the disease has progressed. The most visible symptom is jaundice which is yellowing in the dog’s eyes, tongue or skin. Other symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, increased urination, vomiting, and diarrhea. The thing about these symptoms is that they are often similar to the symptoms of other conditions, so any damages to the liver may remain untreated if not managed on time. Therefore, the moment you notice any of these signs in your dog, you should immediately go to the vet to save your dog from further unpleasant symptoms and maybe other organ failures.
How to treat liver disease in dogs
Before deciding on the treatment of liver disease in your dog, your vet first checks how much damage the liver has endured. The treatment will depend on the type of liver disease and what caused it. Whatever the case may be, there are several options for treating this disease, some of which are regarded as natural remedies.
1. Dietary changes
Diet actually plays a major role in healing liver disease in dogs. By eating right, your dog will get all the necessary nutrients and calories that help the liver function properly. Some liver-friendly meals include fresh and raw food which do not contain any synthetic vitamins. For example, highly digestible carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes are recommended because they help supply energy and reduce ammonia production. Also, vegetables are very beneficial because they are rich in fiber which helps bind intestinal toxins and removes them through a regular bowel movement. Normal amounts of protein are recommended as well because the liver requires protein to repair itself.
Supplements can also help manage liver disease in dogs. The most common supplement is SAM-e which supports liver function and structure and it can protect the organ against future damages. Other nutrients that are recommended are vitamin E to protect the liver from accumulating copper, and vitamin B12 for proper digestion of food. In fact, there are many other antioxidants and amino acids that prove quite beneficial for managing liver disease in dogs. However, it is suggested that you collaborate with your vet about the proper dosage of each so your dog receives the appropriate amount.
3. Herbal treatments
One of the best herbal treatments for liver disease in dogs is milk thistle. It is very useful for regeneration, repair, and restoration of the liver. It also contains silymarin that blocks the toxins from entering the liver and removes them at the cellular level. There are many other herbs that help with treating liver disease. For example, artichoke is a plant that helps normalize metabolism. Dandelion leaves promote proper liver function by suppressing fat storing. Yarrow tincture is also helpful in improving digestion, appetite, and circulation. When it comes to treating liver disease with herbs, it is important that only freshly dried herbs are used because they are most efficient that way.
Medications can also be prescribed to manage liver disease in dogs. They are mostly used when a specific infection is involved. For example, the most common viral infection that can occur as a result of liver disease is canine hepatitis which causes inflammation and scarring and must be treated with antibiotics. Also, anti-nausea medication can be helpful to minimize vomiting and prevent stomach ulcers. Fluid therapy is another medical treatment that prevents dehydration in your dog and maintains the level of electrolytes. Whatever medication is prescribed, it is crucial that you stick to the recommended dose and do follow-up testing to see whether you need to reduce the dose or change to other medications.
Keeping your dog healthy definitely requires routine wellness exams in order to ensure that all organs are working properly including the liver. Eating right and providing your dog with all necessary supplements is crucial to prevent liver disease. Also, it is advised that your pet is fully vaccinated to prevent other infectious illnesses that can lead to liver damage as well as other secondary diseases. Lastly, besides relying on some of the treatment ideas mentioned in this post, make sure you continuously communicate with your vet as well in order for your dog to live a longer and healthier life.