The liver is essential to filter your pet's blood, detoxify wastes, store sugars and secrete bile. When the liver malfunctions, serious pet health concerns can arise. There are many things that can cause liver disease in dogs and cats including genetics, cancer, toxins, various medications and infections. Unfortunately, most cases of liver disease are irreversible.
How Liver Disease Affects Your Pet
If your pet has liver disease, cells within the liver will begin to die. As these cells die, scar tissue will begin to accumulate. Over time, the liver will become swollen and hard. This condition is known as cirrhosis of the liver. While some pets do not display any symptoms for years, others get sick right away. In the early stages of liver disease, your dog or cat may experience bloat and/or jaundice. As bile and bilirubin accumulate in the blood, urine will begin to take on a dark color. During later stages, your pet may experience blood-clotting problems, hepatic encephalopathy, and the liver will cease to function resulting in death.
Common Symptoms of Liver Disease
In the early stages of liver disease, pets may not show any symptoms at all. However, as the disease progresses, several warning signs will begin to develop. It is essential to note though, that symptoms may vary depending on the severity of your pet's condition, its age and its overall health. Symptoms of Liver Disease in Dogs and Cats during Early Stages: Loss of Appetite/Anorexia, Weight Loss, Nausea and/or Vomiting, Dehydration, Depression/Apathy, Diarrhea, Lethargy, Increased Thirst and/or Urination, Weakness, Dull Coat, Bloated Abdomen, Jaundice, Dark-Colored Urine and/or Abnormal Fecal Color and Blood in the Urine, Feces and/or Vomitus. Symptoms of Liver Disease in Dogs and Cats during Late Stages: Aggression/Easily Agitated, Restlessness and/or Disorientation, Trembling, Lack of Coordination/Staggering, Circling, Pacing and/or Aimless Wandering, Dementia/Stupor, Blindness, Excessive Salivation, Seizures and Collapse and/or Coma.
Treatments for Liver Disease
When your pet is diagnosed with liver disease it will need to be hospitalized. Some of the most common treatment methods for liver failure in dogs and cats include IV therapy, oxygen supplementation and colloid replacements. Catheter or enteric feeding may be necessary as well. Supplements of Vitamins E and K and medications such as antiemetic’s, hepatoprotectants, coagulopathy drugs and/or antioxidants may also be prescribed. If infections are present, antibiotics will be necessary. In some cases, surgery is required to remove such things as tumors or other obstructions of the bile ducts.
Liver disease can be either acquired or inherited. As such, there are many factors that can encourage its development, and most any breed of dog or cat can develop the disease. The most vulnerable breeds to Liver Disease: Labrador Retrievers, Bedlington Terriers, Dobermans, Siamese, Domestic Shorthairs, Burmese, Oriental Shorthairs and Abyssinians.
When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.