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Liver Disease in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, How to Prevent & Possible Treatments

Liver Disease in Dogs

Liver Disease in Dogs

Liver Disease in Dogs

The liver is the second largest organ in dogs. It serves a lot of function in their body.

The liver helps in digestion through bile production. It also produces a certain kind of protein that allows blood to clot. It removes toxins from the dog’s system

The liver also releases a hormone or a chemical substance that can control the amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It also helps extract nutrients needed by their body like glucose or simple sugar, cholesterol, vitamins, and minerals.

Just like any other organ, the liver is not in exclusion from diseases and injuries. Some common liver diseases are cirrhosis, fatty liver, and cyst or cancer.

When the liver is not working properly, other organs in the dog’s body will also be affected. Hence, the dog will not be in its optimal health.

Here are the Top 10 Causes of Liver Disease:

Wear and Tear from Aging 

Older dogs often can have liver failure.


Some liver diseases in dogs can be inherited or passed on from their parents.


Canine infectious hepatitis and leptospirosis can cause long-term inflammation and scarring of the liver, which causes liver cell death. Heartworm infection can also cause liver disease.

Ingestion of Toxic Products, Plants, Molds, and Herbs

Since the liver’s the one that filters toxins inside the dog’s body, it will highly be affected by an increasing amount of it. Pesticides and insecticides, household cleaners and disinfectants, lawn care products, and even fleas and tick control can also add toxins inside your dog’s body.


Liver Disease in Dogs

Due to the increase in metabolism and mobilization of lipids, too many fats are stored in the liver. These fats impair liver function.


Pancreatic Issues

Inflamed pancreas spills digestive enzymes to the abdominal cavity resulting in secondary damage to the liver, gallbladder, and intestines.

Long-term Use of Painkillers

Drugs or medicines are also broken down and processed in the liver. Too many painkillers or other kinds of drugs can damage the liver in the long run.

Too Much Fatty and Processed Food and Overfeeding

Consumption of too many fats and processed food can cause fat build-up in the liver. It may result in liver inflammation and liver failure. Overfeeding can cause too much ingestion of protein waste, which drives the liver crazy. Excess protein in the liver can also result in malfunction. Also, overfeeding means detoxifying the liver.

Liver Disease in Dogs

Little or Without Physical Activities

Having no exercise will cause a fast fat build-up in different parts of your dog’s body. In turn, those fats can obstruct several organs and blood vessels, causing them not to function appropriately.

Liver Disease in Dogs

Tumors or Cyst

Masses in the liver can limit its function. Sometimes it can be benign or malignant. But both can pose a negative effect on your dog’s health. Some tumors originate from the liver; some just spread from other parts of the body.

Symptoms of Liver Disease in Dogs

Liver Disease in Dogs

There are lots of symptoms to watch out for liver disease. Here’s a list of them:

  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • weakness
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • blood in urine or stool
  • brittle nails
  • seizures
  • confusion
  • unstable walk
  • yellowish eyes, gums, tongue (jaundice)
  • ascites (build-up of fluid in the belly)

The liver will do its best to self-heal. Once the damage has been done, it is irreversible. So prevention is the key.
liver disease

Tips to Prevent Liver Disease in Dogs 

Liver Disease in Dogs

Here are some tips on how to prevent liver disease in dogs:

  1. Your dog should have a vaccination against infectious hepatitis. If necessary, vaccination against leptospirosis is also an advantage if you are in a high-risk area. But do not vaccinate your dog more than every three years.
  2. Keep toxic chemicals and substances away from your dog. Ingestion of any toxins can cause them harm, not just in their liver. Cut back as many toxins from your dog’s environment as you can.
  3. Give them purified water only. Tap water contains too many chemicals.
  4. Avoid the traditional flea and toxic chemical insecticides. Use natural or organic alternatives.
  5. Lessen the number of antibiotics as they kill both good and bad bacteria leaving your dog susceptible to infection.
  6. A well-balanced diet is a key to maintaining a well-functioning liver. Improve your dog’s overall diet. Choose the one that is highly digestible and contains less fat. Homemade and organic food are highly recommended.

Below is an example of healthy homemade dog food that is good for both well or healing dogs.

Healthy Homemade Dog Food for a Sick Dog

Healthy Homemade Dog Food for a Sick Dog

MC Romesaint


  • ½ Cup Boiled Chicken
  • 1 Pc Boiled Egg
  • ½ cup cooked oatmeal
  • ¾ cup cottage cheese
  • ½ cup real pumpkin boiled and mashed


  • Mix the following ingredients thorougly until the texture becomes even. Since it's already cooked, you can give it right away to your beloved dog.


These organic ingredients contain highly digestible proteins, which are perfect for your dog’s liver and general health.
Whitefish, fish oil, and beef are also good for your recovering dog.
Milk thistle is proven to rejuvenate a stressed liver and help prevent further damage. It will provide a powerful antioxidant to free radical damage caused by various chemicals floating around your dog’s body.
Milk thistle is a supplement that may benefit a dog’s liver, but it won’t cure diseases. Long-term use is not recommended as it can lose its effectiveness. Consult a vet before giving any supplement to your dog.
Keyword DIY Dog Food for sick dogs, Healthy Dog Food, Homemade Dog Food

Possible Treatments for Liver Diseases on Dogs

Liver Disease in Dogs
Liver Disease in Dogs

In case a liver disease is already present in your dog, here are some possible treatments that you can consider. It depends on how your dog acquired the disease and how severe the symptoms are.

If the liver is filled with toxins, your dog should take IV fluids, electrolytes, and oxygen supplementation. Your dog should not do intense physical activities.

Some dogs with severe cases need a catheter for assisted feeding. They may also need some medication.

If the liver disease is due to an obstruction, medicine is sometimes enough. But if it is totally blocked, then surgery is required. 

Infection in the liver is often cured by antibiotics or antiviral drugs. It also depends on the kind of foreign body that gets into your dog’s system. 

These treatments need high supervision from your esteemed veterinarian. You should call or even take your dog to the clinic if the symptoms mentioned above are present and experienced by your dog

Liver Disease in Dogs

Early intervention and treatment are one of the key factors in treating liver disease in dogs. Before they get to the terminal or severe stage, it is best to consult a vet. Always check your dog’s diet and activities to ensure they are well taken care of.


MC RomesaintMC Romesaint

MC is a loving fur parent of three cats (Benjamin, Lucy, and Katniss) and a doggo named Sky. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in Education major in Biological Science, MC combined her love for pets and passion for reading and writing to create articles, short stories, and poems. Some are still hiding in her journals!

Liver Disease in Dogs


Jace Sinclair
Jace Sinclair
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