Just as humans are vulnerable to liver failure, dogs too can suffer from liver disorders, which prevents the liver from carrying out necessary functions to help the body survive. A dog suffering from liver disease, therefore, needs a lot of external help to receive the nutrients that the liver can no longer produce. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, a dog owner needs to know the symptoms of liver failure so they can, if necessary, identify them in their dog –
Symptoms of Liver Failure
A dog with a failing liver can display a variety of symptoms including loss off appetite, weight loss, vomiting or diarrhoea, increased thirst, confusion, blood in stool, weakness and yellowish eyes, gums or tongue.
If you notice similar symptoms in your dog, take him or her to a vet who will do a blood test and x ray to ascertain whether his liver is failing.
Causes and Treatment
While there’s no one reason for liver failure, there are some factors that increase the likelihood of it setting in. Some plants and herbs can cause your dog’s liver to fail, if he consumes them. Diabetes, pancreatic problems, a long term use of pain killers as well an intake of fatty foods may also increase the likelihood of liver failure.
Depending on the stage of the condition, there will be various treatment options available for your dog. A vet may suggest surgery to remove any tumours or cysts. On a smaller scale, he may prescribe medication to help heal and control the liver as well as supplements for similar purposes. Many vets also prescribe a special diet to help your dog receive the nutrients that the liver can no longer produce. Here’s a look at what that diet will involve:
A Diet For A Dog With Liver Failure
For one, vets recommend restricting the amount of protein you give to your dog. Proteins include meats like chicken and beef as well as eggs. A limited protein intake is advised because, after the body breaks down protein, a large amount of ammonia is produced. A well-functioning liver breaks down the ammonia and converts it to urea. A failing liver, however, cannot process ammonia so it gets absorbed in the blood stream, acting as a depressant. Choose to feed your dog non meat protein sources, such as dairy products like cottage cheese and eggs as they contain smaller amounts of ammonia. Don’t cut out protein entirely, as your dog needs essential amino acids from them.
Additionally, include high levels of carbohydrates such as rice, bread and other grains in your dog’s diet. Carbohydrates drive the metabolism of the body, which gives it the energy to heal the liver.
Many dogs with liver failure suffer from water retention in their abdomens. Therefore, salt and dietary sodium should be restricted as it increases water retention.
A vet may also prescribe vitamin supplements that aid liver regeneration such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and zinc. Along with an appropriate diet (again, consult with your vet for specific recommendations for your dog), these supplements can go a long way in helping your dog heal or cope with his liver disorder.