Managing a Dog with Liver Disease: Practical Care Tips

    A healthy dog is a happy dog, but it can be heartbreaking to watch your friend suffer when a canine companion has liver disease. According to Vale Veterinary Clinic, in the initial phases of liver issues in dogs, the liver can experience swelling and enlargement. As the disease progresses, liver cells perish and are succeeded by scar tissue, causing the liver to become tough and rubbery. 

    Nevertheless, before the liver reaches this end stage, it can recuperate and self-heal to the point where a dog’s liver function becomes normal, given that proper treatment is administered at an early stage. Typically, about 80% of liver cells must die before liver failure occurs.

    The good news is that liver disease in dogs can often be managed with proper care and monitoring by their owners. 

    Here are some practical tips for managing your pet’s condition:

    Diet

    Dogs with liver disease may require a specialized diet that is low in copper and high in quality protein to help support liver function and manage their symptoms.

    The liver plays an important role in regulating the levels of copper in a dog’s body. Dogs with liver disease may have trouble processing and eliminating excess copper, which can build up in their liver and cause further damage. Therefore, a diet that is low in copper can help reduce the workload on the liver and prevent further damage.

    Additionally, dogs with liver disease may require a high-quality protein diet that is easily digestible and contains essential amino acids. This can help support their overall health and provide them with the nutrients they need to maintain muscle mass and energy levels.

    Your veterinarian may recommend a specific brand of dog food that is tailored to your dog’s individual needs. It’s important to follow their recommendations carefully and avoid feeding your dog table scraps or treats that could be harmful to its liver.

    Medications

    Medications can be an important part of managing liver disease in dogs, as they can help manage symptoms and improve liver function. However, it’s important to always follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully and never give your dog medication without consulting with a professional.

    One medication that is commonly used to manage liver disease in dogs is Denamarin, which contains a combination of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and silybin. SAMe is a naturally occurring compound that helps support liver function by providing the liver with essential nutrients. Silybin is a potent antioxidant that can help protect the liver from damage.

    Denamarin for dogs is available in chewable tablets and can be given daily to dogs with liver disease. It’s important to follow the dosage instructions carefully and ensure your dog takes the medication consistently.

    In addition to Denamarin, your veterinarian may prescribe other medications to help manage your dog’s symptoms, such as anti-nausea medication or antibiotics to prevent infection. 

    Regular check-ups

    Regular check-ups are an important aspect of caring for a dog with liver disease. These appointments allow your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s condition and adjust their treatment plan as needed. The frequency of these appointments will depend on the severity of your dog’s liver disease and its individual needs.

    Fetch by WebMD says a vet must know all about your pet’s diet and medications during their visit. They may also do blood tests, X-rays, or ultrasounds to get a better picture of what’s going on with the dog’s liver. If necessary, a biopsy can be done by removing a small sample of tissue for testing.

    Based on the results of the check-up, your veterinarian may adjust your dog’s medication, recommend dietary changes, or suggest other treatments to manage their liver disease.

    Avoid toxins

    Avoiding toxins is a crucial aspect of caring for a dog with liver disease. The liver plays an important role in filtering toxins from the body, but when it is damaged, it may not be able to do this effectively. Exposure to toxins can further damage the liver and exacerbate symptoms.

    To reduce the risk of exposure to toxins, it is important to be aware of potential sources of toxins in your dog’s environment. This may include household chemicals, such as cleaning products or pesticides, as well as certain foods or medications that can be toxic to dogs with liver disease.

    It is also important to ensure that your dog’s water supply is free from contaminants, such as heavy metals or bacteria, that can put additional strain on the liver. Providing your dog with fresh, clean water at all times is essential.

    Chronicle Live, in its recent report, pointed out that many springtime plants can also prove to be toxic to dogs. The most common spring bulls that you need to keep your pooch away from are daffodils, spring crocuses, bluebells, and tulips. 

    Other plants to look out for include rhododendron, azalea, and the roots of cyclamen plants which, if ingested, can be potentially fatal for a dog.

    If you suspect that your dog has been exposed to toxins, make sure you seek veterinary care immediately. Symptoms of toxin exposure may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or seizures, and can quickly become life-threatening.

    Exercise

    While dogs with liver disease may not be able to exercise as vigorously as healthy dogs, it’s still important to provide them with regular exercise to help maintain their overall health and well-being. Your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate exercise plan based on your dog’s individual needs.

    While dogs with liver disease can safely enjoy some forms of exercise in warm weather, they need extra care when exercising in hot weather (above 80 degrees Fahrenheit). 

    Dogs should be monitored closely when outside during hot weather because they may become overheated or dehydrated quickly without realizing it. You should also keep an eye out for signs that your pet is too hot or thirsty, such as panting heavily or licking excessively at his paws or face. 

    If these symptoms occur, stop the activity immediately,  move into the shade,  give him plenty of water,  take him inside if possible, and call the vet if symptoms persist after 15 minutes.

    Monitor for symptoms

    Liver disease can be a subtle disease, and it’s important to monitor your dog for symptoms. The most common signs of liver disease are jaundice (a yellowish tint to the skin), weight loss, and vomiting. 

    If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, contact your veterinarian immediately so that they can rule out other causes for those symptoms before deciding whether further testing is necessary.

    Conclusion

    So, now you know a bit more about what to expect when caring for a dog with liver disease. The best thing you can do is to be proactive and watch out for signs of illness in your pet. If you notice anything unusual in their behavior or appearance (weight loss, vomiting), then you should seek medical attention immediately.

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