Liver disease is one of the most common reasons for dog mortality in the United States and around the world. The symptoms are very non-specific which means that sometimes the owners would not be able to recognize them on time. By the time they notice that something is wrong with their dog, it may be too late.
What do we know about the liver as an organ in dogs?
The liver is an organ that has a vital function. It manages the metabolic processes and helps digestion. It also helps in cleaning the body by removing the different by-products and it helps in creating some important clotting factors.
This is the reason why when the liver fails, many things could go wrong at the same time. However, if the liver is properly treated, it could make a full recovery, because it is an organ that can regenerate.
There are different things that could cause the liver to fail. Some of them are different tumors, cancer, infection, toxins, different parasites, and viruses. Dogs could also suffer from acute liver failure, hepatic lipidosis, and other metabolic diseases.
One of the more common causes of liver failure is Leptospirosis, which affects the liver severely. Many dogs also suffer from the portosystemic shunt, which is a malformation in the vascularisation system in the liver and leads to inadequate filtration of the blood that is done in the liver.
What are the signs of hepatic disease in dogs?
Some of the clinical signs that owners notice will most certainly worry them. Most of them are not specific to liver failure, however, if you notice any of the given symptoms, please consider taking your dog for a vet check-up. The most common signs of liver disease are:
- loss of appetite
- seizures sometimes at a specific time
- fluid collection in the abdomen
- jaundice ( it is quite common in dogs with any time of liver failure)
- weight loss
- excessive water ingestion
- excessive urination
Which tests are done for liver disease diagnostics in dogs?
Depending on the symptoms and the anamnesis that is given by the owner, there are different things that the vet could do in order to discover what exactly is happening with the dog. Every good vet starts the examination with a physical examination, taking the temperature, listening to the heart and lungs, and checking the mucosa color, and capillary refill time.
After that, the vet will draw blood and he will run full blood work and biochemistry. The difference is specific liver enzymes could point to pathology in the liver. Sometimes the vet performs something called buccal bleeding time, which helps the vet determine how the clotting works in the patient. The vet can also perform tests like urinalysis, CT scan, and MRI.
Treatment options for dogs with liver disease
The treatment option will depend on the diagnosis. Many times, liver failure of the liver is secondary to other underlying conditions. This means that when the reason for the failure is resolved, the liver should be back to its normal condition. Sometimes, the dogs may need to be on a special diet in order for the liver to recover easily and faster.
If the patient comes in critical condition at the veterinary practice, then it will need IV fluids, medication, antibiotics, and in some cases plasma transfusions. If the patient has cancer, he will most definitely need surgery and/or chemotherapy.
The owner should expect to pay between $500 and $2500. Prices may vary and they may increase depending on the hospitalization time your dog may need.