Liver Disease and Pets: What to Know


Liver disease can affect both humans and pets. Pets can also suffer from several human ailments, so it’s important to understand the symptoms of liver disease in dogs and cats, as well as how to care for your pet when he or she suffers from liver issues.

What Is Liver Disease?

The liver is an essential organ of the body that performs many functions, including the removal of harmful substances and chemicals from the blood, storage of vitamins and minerals, production of proteins, digestion of fats and carbohydrates, and absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.


6 Things To Know When Your Pet Has A Liver Problem

Having a pet is a big responsibility. Owners of these little animals will want to ensure that their best friend is healthy, happy, and well cared for throughout their lives.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. One such issue that owners need to be aware of is liver disease in pets. If you’ve been noticing some strange behaviors in your dog or cat lately, like drinking lots of water or urinating less often, it may be time for a vet visit.

There are six things you should know if your pet has a liver problem. For starters, dogs can experience hepatic lipidosis from eating too much fat.

Cats can experience hepatopathy from eating too many mice. And lastly, both cats and dogs can experience portosystemic shunts when one of the blood vessels leads to the liver becoming enlarged or damaged.

Your vet will perform tests on your pet’s blood to find out what kind of ailment they have before making a diagnosis. They’ll also conduct an ultrasound examination of the abdomen to see how well the liver is functioning.

Keep in mind that these symptoms may not always mean a serious illness; sometimes there’s just an underlying condition at play.

However, if you’re experiencing any of these issues with your pet, take them to see a veterinarian right away!


How Did My Pet Get Sick?

It’s possible that liver disease in pets can be caused by genetics, a condition such as canine chronic hepatitis virus, or certain medications.

Some pets might not show any symptoms of liver disease, while others may show signs like appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing (kennel cough), weakness, yellowing eyes (jaundice), weight loss, or constipation.

Misdiagnosis is also common, so if your pet has been diagnosed with something else and is showing these symptoms after treatment, you should contact your veterinarian again. 

Your veterinarian will first want to rule out other conditions before making a diagnosis of liver disease. Blood tests are usually needed to detect elevated liver enzymes; the test results will indicate whether the patient has one type of illness or another.

The lab report from this blood test should provide information about the levels of various substances in the blood, including bilirubin and creatinine.

Treatment for liver disease may include a change in diet, fluid therapy, medications for nausea and gastrointestinal problems, pain medication for animals who have an abdominal mass, and antibiotics for infections that result from chemotherapy or bacterial overgrowth.


What’s Next? The Vet

If your pet has liver disease, it is imperative that you follow up with a vet for guidance on what steps are best for your pet. Having a good relationship with your vet will be a key part of keeping them healthy as well as knowing when it’s time to make difficult decisions.

If you don’t have a veterinarian you feel comfortable with, talk to your family members about who they go to and why. A veterinarian specializing in pets’ specific needs can better assess the situation and the seriousness of the condition.

They’ll help decide if tests should be run or if medications should be administered to alleviate any pain or discomfort.

There are many different types of liver diseases and it’s important that your vet knows the specifics of each one so they can recommend the right course of action. 

A veterinarian specializing in pets’ specific needs can better assess the situation and the seriousness of the condition.

They’ll help decide if tests should be run or if medications should be administered to alleviate any pain or discomfort.


Treatments And Medications For Liver Disease In Dogs

There are a variety of treatment options available for the management of liver disease in dogs. All treatments need to be carefully monitored, due to the possible side effects of medications.

The two main drugs used for managing liver disease in dogs are ursodiol and low-dose aspirin. However, either drug can increase their risk of internal bleeding as well as other medical conditions.

Ultimately, it is up to the veterinarian to decide which drug is most appropriate for a particular case and patient. Even though they cannot cure the disease, they will make sure that you and your pet have as much quality time together before they pass away.

It is important to note that there are many symptoms associated with liver disease that your dog may experience such as weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, pale gums, yellowing eyes, and skin color changes.

These symptoms should not be ignored, but discussed with your veterinarian. If you think that your dog has any form of liver disease, contact a vet immediately.


Treatments And Medications For Hepatic Lipidosis In Cats

Treatment for hepatic lipidosis in cats may include aggressive deworming, transfusion of packed red blood cells, insulin injections, furosemide (Lasix), peritoneal dialysis, and intravenous fluids.

Feline hepatic lipidosis requires intensive care and there is a high risk that they will not survive without treatment. If your pets do survive, it usually takes 3-6 months for them to recover.

There are no good long-term treatments or cures available at this time. Prevention through routine health checks is essential.

If you notice any signs or symptoms listed above or if your pet’s appetite decreases significantly, contact your veterinarian immediately because these could be signs of feline hepatic lipidosis.

Before administering any medications to your pet, always ask your veterinarian about possible side effects and contraindications. 

Also, ask about what dosage should be given, how often, and for how long. 

Finally, find out what type of insurance covers the medication prescribed by your vet. The most common drugs used to treat feline hepatic lipidosis are costly and many pet owners cannot afford these treatments.


What To Do When Your Cat Shows Signs Of Hepatic Lipidosis

If you notice any signs or symptoms mentioned above, contact your veterinarian immediately because these could be signs of feline hepatic lipidosis.

You can also bring your pets to the veterinary clinic so that they can do an examination, tests, and blood work.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email