How to Spot the Signs & Prevent Liver Disease In Dogs
The liver is a remarkable organ that has so many fundamental roles in keeping the body healthy. It assists with digestion and blood clotting and removes toxins from their system, just to name a few!
The Liver has an amazing ability to regenerate itself when damaged. The downside of this ability, however, is that we might not see the signs of liver damage in your dog until it’s too late. Often by the time you notice the signs, the damage has occurred and it is irreversible.
That’s why it’s crucial to understand the signs of liver damage, the potential causes and ways you can try to prevent this terrible disease.
Why is the liver so crucial to good health?
The liver is the second largest organ, after your dog’s skin, and the largest gland. It is absolutely critical to your dog’s health, as it performs approximately 1500 essential functions in their body.
The main functions are:
- Makes nutrients and controls release to body
- Stores Vitamins A, D, K and B12
- Produces plasma proteins and blood clotting factors
- Stores minerals iron and copper and releases as needed
- Breaks down medications and removes toxic substances from body
Removing toxins in your dog’s body is especially important. The liver does this along with the other 3 major organs – the kidneys, intestinal tract and skin.
The liver uses Oxidation and Conjugation phases, to filter out fat-soluble toxins circulating in the body, which are then converted into water-soluble substances for removal, and use enzymes to break down chemicals and medications.
The causes of liver disease
The oxidative processes of the liver make it the central place where free radicals accumulate. They build up like rust in the body and cause cell damage and then eventually, a damaged liver.
The harder your dog’s liver needs to work to break down toxins, the more likely it will be damaged.
Some of the causes of liver disease are –
- Autoimmune diseases
- Processed or fatty foods
- Food additives
- Mycotoxins from grain & peanut products
- Heartworm drugs
- Flea & tick pesticides
- Chemical cleaners
- Flame retardants in furniture & carpet
- Pesticides & herbicides
- Environmental toxins
- Heavy metals
- Tattoo or microchip ID
Your dog’s liver has the ability to clear his/her body from these chemicals, and this list is on top of the toxins that the body naturally produces. However the excess free radical build up can lead to chronic disease throughout the body.
Important signs that your dog’s Liver may be under stress
As with humans, it is essential you know what ‘normal’ looks like so you can spot any differences or new symptoms.
These can include –
- Digestive disorders (constipation, diarrhea, gas or bloating)
- Poor Appetite
- Weight Loss
- Increased thirst
- Increased need to pee
- Dry, brittle or infected nails
- Dull eyes
- Yellowish eyes, tongue or gums
- Eye discharge or a pinkish eye
- Corneal or retinal disorders
- Sinus issues
- Dark urine
- Unstable walk
- Ligament and tendon issues
- Irritability or aggression
- Blood in pee or poo
These signs are varied and some can be mistaken for normal aging, so it’s best to assume your dog’s liver is under stress. Even if your dog eats a fresh, raw diet and avoids medications, unfortunately we live in a toxic environment, so it’s important to do all you can to limit the damage to your dog’s liver before symptoms appear.
Ways to try and prevent liver damage in your dog
Here are some ways you can try to keep your dog’s liver healthy.
Note: For specific dosage advice, please refer to the source article (linked below), or check with our team or your holistic vet.
- Remove Toxins from Environment –
See if there are unnecessary chemicals, pesticides, medications you are using and try to eliminate or replace with a natural alternative. Try a more holistic approach to health care.
- Eliminate Toxic Foods from their Diet –
Synthetic vitamins and minerals and the toxic bi products like heterocyclic amines and acrylamides in most processed pet foods, cause stress to the liver and kidneys. Grains in kibble can contain cancer-causing molds called mycotoxins, and even grain-free kibble can include pesticides and other toxins. Try a liver-friendly diet such as: a fresh, raw diet; a fresh gently cooked diet; food that’s free of synthetic vitamins.
- Adding Liver Health Supplements to Diet –
The following supplements can help the liver do its job better and break down fat-soluble toxins.
*GLUTATHIONE – This is a powerful antioxidant that can detoxify the liver and can also boost your dog’s immune system. It binds to toxins in the liver before they can cause any damage.
*MILK THISTLE – Milk Thistle (or silymarin) protects cells from toxins and oxidation and helps liver cells regenerate. Milk thistle can help with acute support or if your dog already has existing liver disease.
*ANTIOXIDANTS AND CAROTENOIDS – Antioxidants can prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. One of the most powerful antioxidants is Superoxide Dismutase (or SOD) and Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that provides amazing antioxidant support.
*FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES – This will help cleanse and support your dog’s liver. Foods with high antioxidant support include: sprouts, spinach, broccoli, celery, asparagus, lemons, apple cider vinegar and fermented veggies.
*LIVER – Liver contains 100 times the nutrients of muscle meat and some of the vitamins include vitamin A, some B vitamins, trace minerals, iron, protein, and CoQ10. Remember Organ meats should only account for a percentage of your overall raw diet.
*HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN – The body uses amino acids from proteins to build and repair tissues … including muscle, skin and the liver. So you need to feed high-quality proteins to your dog.
- Cleanse your Dog’s liver Twice per Year –
Cleansing the liver helps it perform at it’s best and help reduce symptoms like Allergies, Fatigue, Skin disease, Arthritis, Anxiety and Chronic Constipation. How often you do a cleanse depends on how many toxins you have been able to eliminate from your dog’s diet.
For more specific information about the prevention methods above, please ask our team or your holistic vet. You can also find dosage advice on our source article – see link below.
Other treatment options can include Antibiotics for infections of the liver, or surgery for dogs with tumors or cysts. Please consult your holistic vet for more information.