Digestive System: Diet For Liver Problems

Liver Quicklinks

Diet and Critical Care:

Canine liver disease diet selection is usually formulated on the basis of certain principles. An ideal diet for disease management should be able to maintain circulatory balance of each component of the blood, electrolytes and nutrients. The diet must not be a source of toxins or miscreants (foreign objects) which can affect immunity and liver status, similarly, the diet must be able to strengthen the physiology of liver and should reduce any chance of partial or complete canine liver failure due to hepatic encephalopathy (disturbances of consciousness), ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen), coagulation problems etc. It is therefore recommended that dietary and nutrient management should be carried out in two different phases and approaches.

Initial Critical Nutrient Management:

An initial approach is to reduce digestive activity and thus help liver restoration. It is done with fluid therapies, in which dextrose, normal saline and phosphate buffers are combined with additional vitamin supplements. Some drugs may also be delivered to treat symptoms; usually metronidazole is combined in any fluids.

In case a dog with liver disease is administered a regular diet or even a specially formulated diet during the initial clinical stages of dietary modification, there is a strong possibility of hepatic encephalopathy and ascites. Toxins in the colon and dietary sodium can cause severe complications, which could lead to failure of the canine liver, thus leaving a dog in a coma and then death.

Oral diets should be completely restricted during the initial stages of treatment, as these may cause severe complications, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. However, fluids can be administered through this route based on the recommendation of a veterinarian.

Diet for Recovering Dogs:

Once a dog is stable enough to tolerate solid or semi liquid foods, and the condition is on the road to recovery, a dog may be fed a specially formulated diet. Diets should not contain extra additives and preservatives, thus home cooked foods are highly recommended, but only if it is possible to maintain the correct ratio of nutrients, which would be a diet recommended by a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist.

Carbohydrates; The liver stores glucose in the form of glycogen, and in the case of canine liver disease, a dog may experience an acute shortage of energy due to inability of liver to store glucose. Thus, to restore energy, it is required to supply a high energy diets to the affected dog. It is recommended that an ideal canine liver disease diet should contain 20 – 40% of carbohydrates as its major component. These may be provided by carbohydrates rich diets along with adequate fats meals.

Proteins; Protein is necessary to maintain normal physiological functions, but it is noted that due to excess production of ammonia, an affected dog may experience severe respiratory, coagulatory and circulatory complications. The source of ammonia is surely the amino acids of proteins, thus it is required that proteins are restricted. Though, proteins should not be completely restricted since it is a requirement of the body. It is highly recommended that adequate amounts of proteins i.e. 2 – 5% of it should be included in the diet. Meat proteins should be restricted, while vegetable and dairy proteins should be preferred for purpose.

Fats; Fats are the most energy rich content in a canine liver disease diet. They can provide twice the calories with no significant negative effects to a carbohydrate or protein source in dogs with liver disease. Sometimes, fats may cause severe functional abnormalities a if dog is affected with a bile duct obstruction, which is rare.

Fiber; Fiber promotes normal digestion and prevents any chance of ulcers and diarrheal problems. Thus crude fibers in form of complex carbohydrates should be included in a canine liver disease diet. Soluble fibers are preferred in dogs that have achieved a notable recovery. Soluble fibers ferment in the gastrointestinal tract and produce simple fatty acids, which are a good source of energy for deprived patients.

Minerals; Zinc is recommended to be included in said diet, as it prevents copper from functioning, but some dogs are intolerable to zinc, therefore, initially a trial administration should be carried out.

Sodium Similarly, dietary sodium should be restricted as it causes abdominal ascites or accumulation of fluids.

Copper: A canine liver disease diet should contain least some quantity of copper.

Vitamins Vitamins are essential for recovering dogs. Vitamin B Complex, D, E and K should be added in adequate quantities to enhance the normal functioning of a dog’s body.

Natural Remedies; Herbal and natural remedies are one the most effective supportive components in treating canine liver disease. These not only helps in restoration of the physiology of vital organs as liver, kidney, heart and nervous system which are directly or indirectly affected by disease, but also it strengthens immunity and restoring capacity of recovering dogs. If the dog liver disease was cause by a infectious condition such as bacterial or fungal infection, consider a remedy such as Liver-Aid Formula.

If the dog's liver disease was caused by other conditions or liver problems, consider a product which provides general liver and immune system support such as Immunity & Liver Support Formula,