Liver problems in dogs are difficult to detect. In addition, they occasionally appear as a secondary disease. This means that the dog can suffer from a disease that affects the liver in a secondary way, which is normally reflected in the biochemical analyzes of the blood.
The liver has many functions related to the metabolism of certain nutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It is also related to the metabolism of vitamins and minerals.
Another irreplaceable function of the liver is its ability to eliminate and excrete toxins and drugs, transported by blood, as well as the function of forming and eliminating bile.
Symptoms of liver problems in dogs
When a liver begins to lose its functional capacity, a series of symptoms appear. They do not have to appear all and, sometimes, they can be confused with symptoms of another disease. The symptoms that can develop dogs with liver disease are:
- Apathy. The dog may appear tired, with a lack of vitality and desire to move.
- Loss of appetite. We can notice that the dog has little desire to eat or, at least, not as many as usual.
- Dehydration Although drinking water as usual, since the liver does not function properly, water does not hydrate the body’s cells. We can see if a dog is not hydrated if we pinch a piece of the skin of the back, and it takes time to return to its place.
- Change in the color of the mucous membranes. When there is a deficiency in the liver, the mucous membranes of the can tend to turn yellow. This is known as jaundice.
- Weightloss. It can lose weight due to lack of appetite, coupled with incorrect nutrient metabolism.
- Chronic or recurrent vomiting When the liver problem increases, other symptoms are shown. It is the case of vomiting, which is usually yellow and sparkling.
- Polydipsia and polyuria. These terms referred, respectively, to an increase in the amount of ingested water and excreted urine.
- Ascites It is the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, produced by the decrease in serum proteins and increased venous tension.
- Neurological signs Due to the accumulation of toxins in the blood due to the lack of functioning of the liver, these can affect the brain, so that it causes inflammation of the liver.
Diseases that cause liver problems
When symptoms of liver disease appear, our first thought is that there could be a problem or a deficiency in the function of this organ. However, when a liver problem is detected, through blood tests, we must rule out other possibilities.
Some of the pathologies or diseases that can cause liver damage are:
- Intoxications. During a routine walk, our dog is unfortunately exposed to intoxicating with multiple substances, some consciously placed and others not. If we visit urban parks or agricultural areas, the dog can be poisoned by herbicides, insecticides, or fertilizers. In addition, you can ingest poisonous substances intended for other animals.
- Infectious hepatitis. This disease is caused by canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1). This virus is transmitted by the body fluids of sick animals, such as urine, feces, or saliva. It does not have a specific treatment, only life support and, sometimes, it can be chronicled.
- Leptospirosis. The cause of leptospirosis is a bacterium that can be transmitted to humans; that is, it is a zoonotic disease. It is transmitted by being in contact with the fluids of animals or infected waters. In addition to the liver, it also affects the heart, kidneys, and lungs.
- Filariasis. It is a nematode infection that can affect organs such as the heart, lungs, skin, or eyes. It is a zoonotic disease transmitted by insects and affects liver secondarily.
- Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing ‘s disease is a hormonal imbalance that can suffer some dogs. The adrenocortical glands begin to produce a hormone – cortisol – in excess, which can affect other organs such as the liver.
- Mellitus diabetes. This disease is characterized by causing the total or partial absence of insulin in the blood. Secondary, it can increase the risk of developing inflammation or scarring of the liver.
How to prevent
When liver problems in dogs derive from other diseases, if that disease is cured, the liver is also healed. Each disease has its own preventive method. For example, cases such as filariasis or other insect-borne diseases, simply use repellents and avoid areas where these insects live.
Occasionally, hormonal diseases such as diabetes or Cushing result from poor diet and, in many cases, cause obesity. Keeping our pet healthy, well-fed, and exercised is essential for the proper functioning of your body.
Finally, sometimes liver failure, as well as kidney failure, occurs in older dogs. It is true that age affects, but correct nutrition is a priority. Do not forget that the liver belongs to the digestive system of the dog and can be affected by multiple factors.