Digestive System: Liver Problems Treatment

Liver Quicklinks

Specific Liver Disease Treatment:

In most cases, it is impossible to specifically treat liver disease in dogs. However, it is usually recommended that some of the symptoms or possible outcomes of the disease should be specifically addressed. These developments during the disease are considered relatively more dangerous for affected dogs, and can lead to partial or complete canine liver failure. Conditions that require more attention include canine hepatic encephalopathy (disturbances of consciousness), canine ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen), coagulation problems and primary or secondary bacterial infections.

Reducing neurotoxins is essential in the case of hepatic encephalopathy. Thus, supportive options are more effective such as dilution and simultaneous excretion of the neurotixin. Food should be restricted and high volumes of fluids containing dextrose and saline should be administered. Upon stabilization of the condition, oral or intravenous antibiotic and supportive supplements are highly recommended.

In case of canine ascites (accumulation of fluid in abdomen), dietary sodium should be completely restricted and doses of diuretics should be administered slowly. Certain complications such as hypovolemia (low blood volume) and shock may occur if medication is not administered properly.

In many acute hepatic (liver) disease conditions, several coagulative abnormalities are certain to occur. Due to the instability of the canine liver, blood may not coagulate or may end with a deficiency of vital factors needed for coagulation, thus leaving dog with either hypovolemia, anemia (low red blood cell count) or both. In the case of canine anemia, fresh whole blood or plasma should be transfused, and transfusing blood should be incubated with heparin. Heparin therapy should be continued as per medical directions until the profile for coagulation results in tests which are normal.

Bacterial infections, sepsis (bacterial infection in the bloodstream or tissues) and other pathogenic complications can be treated with broad spectrum antibiotics, anti parasitic drugs such as Ampicillin, Metronidazole, Cephalexin, Enrofloxacin or Amikacin are some drugs of choice for such kinds of primary or secondary In addition to the primary base treatment, supportive components may speed healing including herbal preparations such as Immunity & Liver Support Formula

Symptomatic Treatment:

Different symptoms such as anorexia (appetite loss), lethargy, jaundice, fever, weakness, intolerance, aggression, pain and ataxia (loss of coordinated muscle movement) should receive different canine liver disease treatment approaches.  Various drugs can be used for this purpose, but they need to be prescribed with care, as a number of complications and unusual results have been reported in canine liver disease cases which are caused by drugs administered for symptoms.

Anti-inflammatory drugs, choleretic drugs (control bile production in the liver), glucocorticoids and other commonly used anti pyretic (fever) and pain killers are used. Use of anti-inflammatory drugs remain the most controversial treatment approach, as many of researchers believe that canine liver failure and advanced pathological stages of liver disease such as coma and thus death are the result of prolonged administration of anti-inflammatory drugs for treatment of symptoms. Similarly, drugs used to treat any kind of obstruction in the biliary tract can cause severe vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, which leaves dogs dehydrated and thus a worsening conditions. Therefore, it is always recommended that symptomatic treatment should only be carried out on recommendations of veterinarian.

Nutrition, Supplementation and Treatment:

Nutrition is vital in treating canine liver disease. Affected dog should be administered nutrients intravenously in the very early stage of the clinical phase. This is usually done to reduce digestive activity, bilirubin motility and also to reduce any chance of hepatic encephalitis (liver inflammation) and any chance of secondary bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections.

Once a dog's condition has stabilized, a canine liver disease treatment plan should include food containing bulk energy carbohydrates (20 – 40%). Rice and Pasta are a very good source of bulk energy and complex carbohydrates. High fiber diets are preferred in the case of canine liver disease, as it reduces the chance of ammonia production, hepatic encephalopathy (disturbances of consciousness) and maintains the strength of the digestive tract.

Protein should be restricted; a diet should contain limited amounts of it, which should only maintain the protein requirement for a dog's body. Meat protein should never be provided, with vegetable and dairy proteins should be preferred. Vitamins, especially B complex, Vitamin C, K and E should be included in dog food, similarly, dietary sodium should be restricted in case a dog shows signs of ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen). Zinc should be included in the diet, although some dogs may not tolerate zinc as it is a digestive irritant.

Herbal preparations can act in a supportive role to strengthen the dog's body and aid in healing.  Products such as Liver-Aid Formula contain ingredients such as milk thistle which is a highly regarded liver tonic and restorative.