A healthy liver is the engine of your pet’s body. It processes nutrients and toxins, produces bile for digestion, and helps regulate blood sugar levels.
When your pet’s liver becomes damaged or diseased, it can lead to several serious health issues, such as hepatic encephalopathy, jaundice, and gastroduodenal ulcer.
According to a recent study published in Wiley Online Library, 10% of the studied dogs with liver disease had a gastroduodenal ulcer.
But you don’t have to worry. There are many ways to protect your furry friend from developing these problems.
Liver Diseases in Pets and Their Causes
Liver disease is the most common chronic disease in dogs and cats. Viruses, bacteria, parasites, and toxins can cause it. Liver disease is often seen in older dogs but can occur at any age.
Symptoms of liver disease include:
- Pain in the abdomen area
- Diarrhea with blood or mucus
Liver diseases can also lead to liver failure. However, you can prevent this with quick diagnosis and treatment. Around 80% of the liver cells must be affected by a disease to cause failure. If you get your canine or feline friend checked before 80% of cells are damaged, liver failure can be prevented.
The Importance of a Healthy Diet
Most pet owners know that a balanced diet is essential. Many people don’t realize that it’s not just about the quantity of food you feed your dog or cat but also the quality of their eating. Some foods are better than others and should be avoided if you have liver disease in your pet, while other foods can help to improve liver health.
- Avoid high-protein, low-fiber diets: These diets cause the liver to work much harder than it should have. For instance, a high-protein diet improves metabolism to help obese dogs to lose weight. While this is beneficial for overweight dogs, it can lead to chronic inflammation in dogs due to excessive stress, damaging the livers.
- Avoid high-fat diets: Fats are extremely difficult for our bodies and especially for livers to process into energy, so too much can cause severe damage over time.
- Avoid high sugar diets: Sugar taxes our body’s ability to detoxify itself from all kinds of toxins, including those found in pesticides on produce, as well as harmful chemicals found in plastic water bottles containing BPA (bisphenol A).
Getting the Right Medication
The first step in treating your dog’s liver disease is to find the proper medication for its condition. There are two main types of drugs, those that treat the symptoms and those that treat the cause.
- Medications that treat symptoms can alleviate pain and inflammation but not cure disease. Pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen can help manage discomfort when a dog has stomach ulcers or other painful conditions related to liver failure. Anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone or meloxicam may also be used to reduce swelling, in some instances causing discomfort for your pet.
- Medications that treat causes work by restoring proper function to damaged organs while they heal themselves over time. Some common treatment choices include enzymes like cholecystokinin (CCK) receptor antagonists, antibiotics, stomach protectants, and blood thinners.
You can also get medicinal supplements for your pets. There are many liver supplements like Denamarin available at vet medical stores. However, if you don’t want to go to a retail store, you can buy Denamarin online. It is one of the best brands recommended by veterinarians for pet liver diseases caused by S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and Silybin A + B.
Understanding Diagnostic Tests
Several different tests are used to diagnose liver disease. These include:
- Liver function tests (LFTs) measure the levels of various chemicals and enzymes in the blood. LFTs are very common and can be done to determine if your pet has a liver problem, but they aren’t as specific or sensitive as other tests.
- A liver biopsy involves taking tissue samples from the liver under general anesthesia and examining them under a microscope to look for signs of disease. This test is sometimes necessary when LFT results are inconclusive or when there are clinical signs of illness but no abnormal results appear on testing.
It’s important to remember that a biopsy won’t tell you what type of liver problem your pet has. It just gives you more information about how much damage is being done by whatever condition they have developed.
Reimagine the Treatment of Liver Disease
You’ve probably heard the phrase “treatment is as important as a diagnosis.” This can’t be repeated enough when it comes to liver disease because early intervention is the key to treating and managing your pet’s condition.
To get a handle on how best to treat your dog or cat’s liver disease, you need an understanding of the cause of his/her liver ailment. Suppose your pet has been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis. In that case, your veterinarian will likely recommend trying an anti-inflammatory medication in addition to standard chemotherapy drugs that are more effective at managing inflammation than attacking cancerous cells directly.
If he/she has been diagnosed with cancerous tumors or if there is suspicion that this might be the case based on diagnostic testing results, then surgery may be recommended for doctors and surgeons to have access inside the body so that they can remove tumor masses before they spread further throughout various organs.
Surgery for Treating Liver Disease
Surgery is the best treatment option for treating liver disease. However, surgery can treat many types of liver disease, including cancer, failure, abscesses, and cysts. Surgery for treating cancer involves removing the tumor and surrounding tissues to prevent or stop the growth of cancer cells.
Surgery for treating liver failure involves removing part or all of your pet’s diseased liver so he can live without it until his body builds new healthy tissue. This procedure only works if your pet has enough functioning healthy liver left behind after surgery to keep him alive until new tissue grows back in its place.
Don’t worry; liver surgeries in dogs and cats are very safe. A study published in the MDPI Journal analyzed the surgeries for gastrointestinal foreign body removal in the liver in 72 dogs. It concluded that the dog’s survival rate was 100% in cases treated with surgeries.
There are many reasons your dog might have liver disease, and it is important to seek a veterinarian’s opinion if you suspect your dog has the condition. If your pet undergoes surgery for his or her liver problem, make sure to ask about diet options after the procedure so that you can provide adequate nutrition for a healthy recovery.