How important is your dog’s health for you? Do you take him for regular check-ups? Liver is an important organ not only for us, but for our dog also. It is associated with activities like digestion, blood clotting, elimination of toxins from his body. But don’t worry such diseases can be treated if diagnosed and managed early.

Liver disease is characterized by

  • The liver cells die.
  • The liver becomes large, rubbery and firm leading to an irreversible condition called cirrhosis.

What happens to the dog?

  • Increased thirst.
  • He may end up in weight loss.
  • Your dog may become jaundiced with yellow skin and orangey mucous membrane.
  • Urine becomes bright colored due to bile and bilirubin build up in the blood.
  • The color of the stool changes to putty -colored.
  • Blood-clothing factors may develop.
  • In severe cases the dog may become sick and die.

Causes of liver disorder

  • Exposure to certain chemicals like lead, selenium, arsenic, rodenticides, iron and phosphorus.
  • Ingestion of certain toxic drugs such has anti-fungals, pain medications.
  • Infectious diseases like heartworm infection, canine adenovirus, diabetes mellitus and hyperadrenocortcism.
  • Exposure to toxic plants like mushrooms, lillies, blue-green algae.
  • Copper related hepatitis.
  • Bacterial, fungal and viral infectious diseases.
  • Fibrosis of liver tissue.
  • Circulatory disorders.
  • Cancer may involve islet cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and many forms or cancer in dogs.


Severe liver disorder is diagnosed through the following tests:

  • Hematology (involves full blood workup)
  • Urine analysis
  • Biopsy
  • Ultrasound imaging

Biochemistry, Hematology, Urine analysis will check for:

  • Low blood sugar level
  • Irregularities in blood clotting platelets
  • Anemia
  • Destruction of protein synthesis
  • The presence of bilirubin, ammonium urate crystals and granular casts (solid deposits in the urine).

Imaging tests

An ultrasound test shows an enlarged liver and hepatic abnormality

Lab tests will look for

  • Cell pathology and tissue necrosis.
  • High plasma ammonia concentration.
  • High amount of total serum bile acid concentration.
  • Impairment in coagulation and blood clotting factors.

How to treat the disease?

Dietary changes

  • Dietary modification is important to ensure that your dog suffering from liver disorder receives the required nutrient and caloric intake to support liver regeneration.
  • Protein restriction is a great step to regulate the levels of circulating ammonia.
  • Dairy products and eggs are the preferred diets for dogs with liver disease.


  • This may help to control his liver problem.
  • Glucocorticoids is proven to be useful for dogs with liver disease. Along with this, you should also change your dogs other medications.

Blood Transfusion: This may be appropriate in dogs who have severe bleeding problems related with clotting and coagulation abnormalities caused by liver disease.

Surgery: This may be one of the best option for dogs with cysts or tumors.

Treatment of Copper-Related Hepatitis: The level of ingested copper must be reduced for the liver disorders associated with abnormal accumulation of copper.

Other newer treatment Options

Some of the new treatment options are being explored for animals with liver disease

  • Intra-arterial chemotherapy.
  • Microwave coagulation.
  • Percutaneous ethanol injections.
  • Trans-arterial chemoembolization.
  • Other immunotherapeutic methods.