Liver failure in dogs: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Liver failure in dogs: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Liver failure in dogs

The liver is a very important organ for your dog. It helps clean the blood from toxins and helps with digestion and blood clotting. So if it is not functioning properly, it will bring your friend some problems. Liver failure in dogs can be treated effectively, though.

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What causes liver failure in dogs?

The most common causes of liver failure in dogs have to do with infectious toxins, hepatotoxic agents (chemical substances that directly affect the liver), poor flow of fluids into the liver, and excessive heat exposure. When any of these agents cause a necrosis in the liver, liver enzymes are lost and liver function is impaired, ultimately leading to a complete organ failure.

But the causes for a failing liver are not only external. Extensive metabolic disorders in protein synthesis can also lead to acute liver disease. Abnormal glucose absorption and an abnormal detoxification are also factors. If the condition is not treated fast enough, the result can be death.

Symptoms of liver failure in dogs

There are several conditions that can lead to liver failure. A variable hepatic necrosis can be associated with primary and secondary hepatobiliary disorders. The following are some ways in which liver failure can accept the function of other systems:

  • Hepatic encephalopathy – brain disease related to liver failure
  • Hematochezia – diarrhea, vomiting, and blood in the stool
  • Renal failure – toxins/metabolites can affect the tubules of the kidney
  • Jaundice – excess bilirubin causing the skin and mucous membranes to look yellow
  • Liver necrosis – also death of  bile duct cells
  • Clotting complications

What is the treatment?

After running a battery of tests to determine what the liver failure is and what is causing it, the veterinary will administer fluids and electrolytes, colloid replacements and oxygen supplementation. Your veterinarian will also restrict your dog’s physical activities until the liver makes full recovery. The vet might also prescribe a regular protein diet with supplemental vitamins E and K.

Liver failure can be prevented through vaccination and by making sure your dog does not come into contact with any drugs or potentially harmful hepatotoxins.

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