Canine liver disease, a little knowledge could save your dogs life

Canine liver disease is the 5th leading cause of non-accidental death amongst man’s best friend. Just having a little knowledge of this common, but little written about condition, could save the life of your family pet

When my West Highland Terrier Joe was diagnosed with a liver condition, I found to my angst that much of his suffering could have been avoided had I known the signs to look for and steps that I could have taken early on to aid his full recovery. Fortunately Joe is now, thanks to a few simple changes in his lifestyle, back on track to being the bouncy little scamp he was prior to his diagnosis.

Simply put, liver disease is a general term used to describe any medical disorder of the liver. The liver is responsible for removing toxins from your dog’s bloodstream and can amazingly still perform this function with up to 75-80% of it affected by disease. The downside of this incredible statistic is that damage is consequently well advanced by the time many diagnoses are made.

Common Causes of liver disease in dogs include:

· Exposure to high levels of toxic chemicals such as insecticides, lead, phosphorus and iron · Infections such as chronic ear and skin infections and other infections elsewhere in the body. · Hepatitis · Common Dental infections · Inherent liver disease is commonly more genetically inherent in certain breeds such as American and English cocker spaniels and West Highland terriers · Inbreeding · Prolonged use of some drugs such as cortisone, steroids, anti-convulsants, parasite control drugs and some antibiotics.

Common symptoms of liver disease in dogs include:

· Jaundice – Eyes, Gums and skin turn a yellowy color · Vomiting, this may or may not be accompanied by blood · Diarreah, again this may or may not be accompanied by blood · Urinary changes may occur such as frequent urination and increased thirst. Urine may turn orange · Stools may be pale grey, orange or even yellow in color · Depression or lethargy – your dog may seem withdrawn and apathetic · Other behavioural changes such as aimless pacing around and circling · Swollen belly

Diet plays a major part in allowing your dogs liver to regenerate itself, as it is the liver that processes your pet’s food and drink intake.

Foods to be avoided to keep your dogs liver healthy include sugar, chocolate, fried or grilled meat and bones, onion, red and green peppers and tomatoes.

Fresh distilled water is preferable to tap water.

It is also a good tip to use stainless steel food and drinking bowls instead of plastic ones.

It is of course your local Veterinary expert that should carry out the necessary tests and diagnose liver disease in your dog, but by being aware of the common symptoms and actively checking your pet you can play a part in making sure that treatment can begin a soon as possible