Liver Disease & Your Dog

Your dog's liver performs many important functions. In one sense, it acts like a filter for the blood, to strain out harmful particles and bacteria. A major portion of the blood is carried through the liver. When it becomes swollen due to infection or more serious conditions such as cancer, it can't filter the blood efficiently. That forces some of the fluid portion of the blood to seep out into the abdomen. Chronic (long term) scarring of the liver does the same thing. The fluid in your dog's abdomen (called ascites) could be caused by other problems as well.

These are very grave symptoms, which is why maintaining good liver health in your dog can be a real life saver.

You can look for early symptoms of liver problems by examining your dog's gums on a regular basis. If you notice changes in the colour of the gums (yellowish colouring indicates jaundice) this can be an early warning sign that your dog's liver is getting behind in its work.

The plumbing inside your dog's liver may be swollen internally, and the normal bile pigment (yellow colour) isn't being pumped into the intestines where it belongs, so it's ending up in her blood instead and you can see this manifest in the tissues of your dog's mouth.

Liver Disease & Your Dog

It all sounds terrible, but a lot of pets with abdominal fluid and jaundice can be helped. With special diets, medication, and possibly surgery, you may improve your dog's quality of life and a long term management plan can be discussed with your vet. Diet in particular is essential for helping to keep your dog's liver under less stress.

The liver is so important and if you diagnose liver problems too late, the prognosis is far more serious.

Have your dog's health regularly checked and always be prepared to adjust your dog's diet in accordance with their age, lifestyle, breed and activity levels.

Treating liver problems can be an expensive affair and be warned, older dogs become far more prone to liver problems once they've hit 8 years of age. This is the high risk period in your dog's life. Insure your dog early, this can not only save you a fortune in vet fees, it can give the peace of mind that should anything happen (particularly at the serious end of the dog liver health spectrum) you will at least have the peace of mind that you will be able to afford the most appropriate treatment and protect your dog long in to their old age.

Dietary management is the cornerstone of treatment and long term management of canine liver disease. Its purpose is to reduce the build-up of the waste products of protein-processing, which cause many symptoms of this condition. A diet regime should include the following: Easily digested carbohydrates,such as rice (to provide energy), high-quality and easily digested sources of protein such as eggs, four to six small daily meals, and sufficient food to prevent weight loss (some dogs may need force-feeding).

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