Having a dog as a pet isn’t all about playing frisbee and cuddling. Since these loving creatures can’t speak for themselves, it’s down to every dog owner to take care of their pet with the utmost responsibility. One of the most important things we should do is keep our best friends healthy.
How can you recognize whether your dog is sick or has an injury? For every medical condition, dogs develop symptoms, just like humans do. For example, some of the symptoms are visible, like when you notice how your dog starts scratching or licking its paw. That often means your dog has a skin infection or an injury.
However, your dog’s internal organs have medical conditions, and one of the most vulnerable organs is the liver. Liver toxicity can happen in dogs of all ages, and especially in pups. Dogs are more susceptible to liver disease due to immature liver metabolism.
Canine liver diseases are the reason millions of dogs die prematurely each year. This is why many canine owners turn to liver support for dogs. They consider this supplement a preventive measure for every canine to avoid any unwanted medical conditions.
To find out more about the symptoms, causes, and means of prevention, check out some of the essential information about canine liver disease below.
Common symptoms of liver disease in dogs
Often attributed to malnutrition, most dogs will show signs of having a liver disease. The most common symptoms include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, sudden weight loss, lethargy or loss of orientation, increased water consumption, increased yellow gums, yellowing of the whites in their eyes, fluid retention in the abdomen (swollen stomach), and darkened urine. This is why you always need to pay attention if any of them start appearing in your dog, even more so when combined.
Noticing more than a few of these symptoms means you must take your furry friend in for a check-up. In case the usual blood tests don’t show anything unusual, consider having your vet order a medical ultrasound or x-ray to make sure the liver isn’t damaged.
What causes canine liver disease?
Let’s be honest for a minute. We all want to spoil our best friends and give them all sorts of treats every day. As much as we love doing it, we need to refrain from feeding them anything we find in the kitchen. The best thing to do is convince ourselves that it can have serious consequences on our pets and know what foods are most harmful. Here are the most dangerous foods dogs shouldn’t eat at any time:
- High-fat foods
- Chocolate and any conventional sweet
- Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic for dogs
- Excessive use of aspirin or similar drugs
- Grapes and raisins
- Products containing citric acid
- Raw meat
- Uncooked eggs
- Salty foods
- Alcohol-based products
Common liver diseases in dogs
Now that you know the symptoms, it’s time to become familiar with the most widespread liver diseases in canines. Cancer is the number one cause of death in dogs, as it is in humans. Even cirrhosis of the liver develops into liver cancer in most cases. So, be extra careful about what you’re feeding your dog. Giving your dog food that harms the liver can result in any of the following diseases, most of which are life-threatening.
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Liver cancer
- Benign liver tumors
- Fatty liver disease
While the lack of good nutrition is the main issue, these diseases are mostly caused by a lack of vitamins B, K, and E. In case blood tests show low potassium levels in your canine’s organism, it’s highly recommended that you buy prescribed supplements to prevent any disease from appearing.
Consider vaccinating your dog for leptospirosis; a bacterial infection dog can get from sniffing the urine of infected wild animals. Leptospirosis can cause liver and kidney damage.
Treating canine liver diseases
Like humans, dogs also need to follow a certain diet to bring liver function back to normal. Along with prescribed vitamin supplements, the diet needs to be full of the right nutrients to provide enough energy and maintain your dog’s general well-being. The diet should also help regenerate the liver by offloading any extra work.
What does “extra work” mean? Basically, you should allow your canine to eat light foods, no greasy stuff, drink nothing but water and any other food suggested by your veterinarian.
Providing the right nutrition is vital
In time, you will help your beloved pet minimize the risks of developing brain diseases (such as hepatic encephalopathy) due to liver malfunctioning. It’s best to include food made of fish (25%) and vegetables (75%).
You can include squash, beans, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables, as long as they are not rich in copper.
Depending on the disease, it’s generally OK to consume high-quality protein food from boiled eggs, turkey, and boneless chicken meat. However, you’ll need to monitor the amount of protein your dog can handle daily.
The fact that inflamed livers process fewer proteins means that too much protein may actually worsen the condition.
Consider giving your dog fish oil that contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help the liver prevent blood clots and remove extra fat from your dog’s body.
Can your dog eat dairy and fruits?
Depending on the diagnosis, consult with your veterinarian about adding dairy products to your pet’s diet. The least harmful dairy foods include yogurt and cottage cheese.
But what about consuming fruits?
It’s recommended to give your dog seedless watermelon, blueberries, and papaya. Watermelon helps your dog’s liver process the ammonia produced by digesting protein, which eases kidney strain and helps eliminate excess fluids. Blueberries contain antioxidants that help protect the liver. Papaya can help halt or prevent fatty liver disease.
Now that you know more about the symptoms, risks, types of liver diseases, and special diet every dog needs to follow, it’s time to be aware and pass this knowledge to others.
If everyone is responsible enough to take care of their dogs, that will help reduce these diseases being caused by unintentional human error.
If you think your dog shows any signs of liver disease, consult your vet immediately.