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Canine Liver Disease – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Puppy at Vet (female)Out of all the many different problems that could end up causing a dog to lose its life, canine liver disease is among the most common causes for an untimely death. The liver is a vital organ that is responsible for just about all of the necessary functions that happens within a dog’s body that is needed to sustain life.

In order for a dog’s system to digest foods the way that it needs to, adequate levels of bile must be produced by the liver. The removal of waste from within the body and the detoxification of blood are also functions that are reliant on the proper working order of the liver. What this boils down to is that the overall condition of your dog’s health can be significantly affected if there are problems with the liver.

Causes of Canine Liver Disease

There are actually several causes of canine liver disease. There are some dogs that are simply born with it, as it is genetically transferable. Existing health problems and bacterial infections are also causes of this type of disease. Another cause of canine liver disease is when some type of toxic chemical has been ingested by a dog. There are quite a few different chemicals that can be found around the house that can cause this disease, but a few of the most common would include phosphorus, lead, iron, and insecticides.

Symptoms of Canine Liver Disease

If canine liver disease is suspected, there are several different symptoms that you will most likely notice in your dog. A few of the most common symptoms that this kind of disease can cause includes the following:

  • Jaundice – This can cause the skin, eyes, and gums of the dog to start turning yellow
  • Lethargy – The dog will not have a whole lot of energy
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of weight
  • Swollen belly
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

There is rarely a diagnosis in the early stages of canine liver disease. This is simply because even when the liver has been damaged by as much as 80%, it still has the ability to function. This also means that by the time the symptoms begin to show and a diagnosis has been made, the disease has often already reached advanced stages. When canine liver disease is suspected, the veterinarian will most likely want to do a physical examination and blood tests. Blood tests allow the enzyme levels to be checked, and a physical exam will make it easier to tell if the liver is enlarged. This is also when they will be able to tell if jaundice or other symptoms may be an issue as well.

Canine Liver Disease Treatment

Just like any other type of disease, the specific treatment your dog will receive is going to depend a great deal on the severity and the specific cause of the damage that has occurred. In the event that harmful toxins have been ingested, these will be removed as quickly as possible. A special diet may also be suggested.

When treatment is sought as soon as possible, canine liver disease can often be treated effectively.

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