PetMeds®: Jaundice in Dogs and Cats – Yellow Skin, Gums, and Eyes

 
Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
Sad Chichuahua When an animal guardian notices that their dog or cat’s gums, eyes, or skin are turning yellow this usually indicates a condition called jaundice, and is often an important indicator that an urgent visit to a veterinarian is needed. A yellow dog is typically due to an immune mediated disease of the blood, where a pet is destroying its own red blood cells, thus becoming very anemic; or a severe liver or pancreatic problem exists.  Infections in dogs such as the recently emerging disease of leptospirosis, as well as various immune and infectious conditions of the liver may also result in a yellow patient.

A yellow cat can also mean there is an immune mediated disease of the blood, but could also be a result of various infectious, viral and parasitic diseases, such as feline leukemia virus, FIV, FIP, toxoplasmosis, and haemobartonella.  Many cats with diseases called cholangiohepatitis or triaditis (inflammation of the liver, intestines and pancreas) can also present this way. Cats with the fatty liver disease called hepatic lipidosis can also develop signs of jaundice.  Most of these conditions need immediate workup and treatment from your veterinarian and can also help to differentiate the above conditions from abdominal cancer.

Depending upon the specific diagnosis or combination of diagnoses, an individualized treatment plan is typically undertaken that could involve antibiotics or anti-inflammatories like Prednisone. In addition, force feeding or feeding tubes may be needed in situations where pets refuse to eat for prolonged periods of time.

There are excellent supportive products that may also help in your pet’s recovery when battling these blood or liver/pancreatic disorders. Denosyl is such a product made by the Nutramax Company which I’ve often used for these conditions.

Given that our companion animals’ livers are under constant and chronic stress, it’s no wonder we’re seeing an increasing number of pets with chronic liver disorders. With appropriate dietary therapy, these combination supplements can often improve liver function significantly, sometimes avoiding the need for higher doses of prescription stronger drugs.

Read Related Posts on PetMeds Blog:

  1. Why Is My Pet Losing Weight?
  2. Pancreatic Insufficiency in Pets
  3. Liver Disease in Pets
  4. PetMeds®: Emerging Gastrointestinal Diseases in Cats
  5. Hepatic Lipidosis in Cats

26 Comments

  1. HemaLatha
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    My dog died of jaundice.The last day it suffered from severe blood vomiting.will the disease spread to the people in the house also.please answer me.

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  2. Jasmeen
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Is Jaundice contagious? I need to know too.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Hi Jasmeen: The answer to your question depends upon the cause of the jaundice. For example certain infectious diseases of the liver in dogs like leptospirosis can indeed be contagious to people. Other cases like chronic active hepatitis of dogs or cats, as well as autoimmune blood disorders are not typically contagious to people. So while there are a few infectious causes potentially contagious to people, the vast majority of jaundice pets are not contagious.

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  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Leptospirosis can be very serious in dogs, if diagnosed appropriately, however with aggressive and early antibiotic treatment, many pets survive.

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  4. Elizabeth
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    my Pom Kasper has been diagnosed with chronic Hepatits about a year ago,his Vet put him on Denamarin 225 mg,then later since he had fluid in his stomach they put him on steroids and had to take him off it because it made his liver bleed. He has really got a lot better on the Denamarin but the question I truly would like to know about what is his long term outlook on this liver problem he just turn 4 years old this past week.I love his Vet if it had not been for Charles Steinman at Salisbury Animal Care here in Salisbury,N.C. he might not be alive now,he thought kasper was to fat till he picked him up and felt his stomach and then listen to it and he told me then he had a bad liver problem.They kept him overnight and the next morning done a ultra sound and blood work. I am on disability and his Vet works with me he took care of another Pom that had a bad heart. So can you tell me how long do dogs live with this..
    Sincerely,
    Kasper mom Elizabeth

    [Reply]

  5. jennica
    Posted March 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Hi. I found a strau cat the other day and i ‘ve been checking all over him and I noticed that his skin is a bit yellow.
    , but it’s a black cat. I don’t know that if since he’s a black cat that that’s the way his skin is or what.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Best to have vet exam to make sure yellow color not due to liver disease.

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  6. Delmon
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    My cat was fixed last week he is one year old and the vet gave him an antibotic shot but he seems to be loosing alot of wate. He is laying around and his gums are yellow. I am trying to schedule a vet visit, is there any hope at this point.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Not sure what diagnosis is but best to have vet exam ASAP to work up for severe chronic liver issue.

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  7. Harvey's mom
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    My orange tabby has a highlighter yellow area on the skin in between his ear and eye. He acts completely normal and has regular eating a litter box habits. My son noticed it about a week ago and then it appeared to go away. We just noticed it again so now I am feeling more concerned. His gums and eyes are not yellowing and I can’t find any other yellow placed. Is there a chance this can be anything but liver related? Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    I dont think it is liver related. If recurs and persists, have vet exam.

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  8. CAROL ROBINSON
    Posted May 20, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    My birman can is a waxy yellow colour around the ears. He also has yellow gums. He drinks a lot of water and indeed likes to sit around his water dish for sometime and just watch the water. He is very thin and I have just found a food that he likes and will eat the whole lot. Is is 9 years old. I will take him to the vet but wondered anyway what your views are, please.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Many possibilities from inflammation of liver to inflammation of pancreas to a blood disorder. Best to take to vet for full exam and workup.

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  9. caroline
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    My 9 year old lab has a very low platelet count, 2000. He has stopped eating and drinking and cant breath well. He is on a drip at the vets, the blood test says no problem with his liver or kidney but he has now turned very yellow. The vet is stumped. We are in Indonesia where the vets aren’t so good.They have put him on antibiotics for lepto, I suggetsted Babesis, so they have put him on another anti biotic for that too. We have had ticks lately. My other 2 dogs are fine. Also they have done an xray on his chest and say his breathing problem is pnemonia. He was fine last week. He stopped eating on Thursday, was given antibiotics to give orally at home, Sunday night I took him in as he didnt eat at all and was vomiting up bile after giving him the drugs. Since then he has just been so lethargic and doesn’t seem to be responding to anything…please help!!

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Not much you can do for this at home. Usually with low platelet numbers this si msot commonly due to autoimmune disease, and usually high doses of immune suppressive medications like cortisone is needed, along with antibiotics for any other infections.

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    caroline Reply:

    he was in the vets getting antibiotics and a drip, unfortunately on weds he died. He was breathing so heavily, his gums and tongue so pale. He had a heart attack and died.
    The vet didn’t know what was wrong with him.
    Within 6 days a healthy dog went downhill very fast.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    I am sorry to hear of your loss. I probably would have used corticosteroids in this case with such low platelet numbers, especially given the autoimmune component involved in many of these cases. Lepto usually does not cause low platelet numbers. But it sounds like your dog was so ill that likely little could have been done to save him.

  10. Catherine
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    My cat has lost alot of weight and his gums are yellow. He also had blood in his stool. I know he is sick but I do not have any money to pay for the vet. What can a person do to save their pet when there is no money to do so?

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Unfortunately pet does sound like very sick. Try checking with local humane societies and shelters for low cost vet care.

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  11. Lisa
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    My 6 yr old catahoula mix has been home one week from being hospitalized with acute pancreaitis. Vet stated he is the worst case of pancreatits she has seen. Testing showed no organ damage, but he now has jaundice. Vet has him on flagyl 500mg 2 x day, prednisone and amoxicillan. He also has been on seizure meds fo the last year. I am also giving him pro-biotics and B12. His urine is yellow. Drinks alot and urinates long time. Was an 85lb dog – lost 10lbs. He is beginning to have bowel movements again – feces is solid but dark. He is just getting his appetite back. I am concerned that the Flagyl will decrease his appetite and I have also read that you should NOT give Flagyl to dogs with liver disease. What is your advice on the Flagyl?

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    I would follow your vet’s advice on using flagyl. This drug is ok to use in liver disease although usually at a lower dose than normal. Check with your vet.

    [Reply]

  12. Lisa
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Is my dog in any pain while jaundice? What is he experiencing? What can I do for him?

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Degree of pain or not would depend upon cause of jaundice which is best determined by veterinary exam and workup. Not much you can do at home until underlying causes are explored with veterinarian.

    [Reply]

  13. rosie
    Posted August 12, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Hey my dog got bit by a rat n she so yellow now not eattin what do I do I have no money I live in s.philly is there a number I can call or some where I can go to I love her very much n don’t want her to die

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Best to have vet check. See if any low cost humane societies or ASPCAs in your area that offer veterinary services.

    [Reply]

  14. jenn
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    my basset is in the hospital getting iv fluids and antibiotics after she quit eating and the doc thinks she has leptosporosis which has damaged her kidneys. She did have the vaccine when she was a puppy. She has lost so much weight and has muscle atrophy. Her white blood cell count keeps rising. Is this indicative of lepto ?

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Lepto is possible. Blood tests can rule this one in or out Supportive care at your vet is best including IV antibiotics and IV fluids until kidney functions stabilize and blood tests back.

    [Reply]

    jenn Reply:

    any suggestions on how i can get her to eat? She won’t eat for the vet or me. I’ve taken her favorite food and she won’t even try to eat. They are giving her Nutri-cal but she continues to lose so much weight . Thank you for your rsponse

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    You can ask vet for appetite stimulant such as cyproheptadine or mirtazipine. Sometimes a feeding tube is necessary

  15. Lisa
    Posted October 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I can thankfully say that my Catahoola has recovered from his pancreitis and jaundice. Two vets did not expect him to live. One day I brought his bed from home to the vet, and then he seemed to get better rest and began to show progress to recovery. I owe so much to my vet – she is the best!!! He was at the vet hospital 2 weeks being fed with tube and IV for fluids and antibiotics. Brought him home, fed him home cooked meals until he was able to get back on his kibble. From now ALL my dogs are fed freshly prepared food along with their kibble. It took around 2 1/2 months for him to look and act like his old self. I do notice that his joints creak now when he is getting up. Would this be from all the meds he was taking?

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Crackikng joints likely from unrelated degenerative joint disease. Great job on recuperating your dog. Continue feeding as fresh a diet as possible for long term health.

    [Reply]

  16. Jam
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    My cat had not been eating for more than a week now. He’s really weak and lost a lot of weight. His saliva kept on dripping and looks like he can’t swallow it. We had to do force feeding. We noticed after three days of no eating that his gums turned yellow and we thought he could just recover. We gave him Vitamin C and Antibiotics but it had no effect. We then decided to take him to the vet on the 6th day and the vet said it could have been cause by poison. We had him dextrosed and injected a vitamin for the liver. He had also taken a general antidote. We were supposed to give him a blood test but he had no enough blood. The vet adviced to stop giving him antibiotics.
    Until now there is no significant improvement.
    Is there hope for our cat? If none, about how many days does he have left? :(

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Sounds like very severely advanced situation. IV fluids, antibiotics, etc best chance at vet. Also could try homeopathic remedy phosphorus in 6c potency and give 1 pellot twice daily. Can get from health food store. Good luck.

    [Reply]

    Jam Reply:

    We visited the vet again for the 3-day general antidote injection. But the vet said it was not necessary anymore because his salivation stopped. He gained weight from 2.5 kg to 3 kg. It may be because of the dextrose. But now he cannot stand and can barely move. He also attempts to scratch us maybe because he is in pain. The vet said the poison reached his brain. He breaths through his mouth and he couldn’t blink. It is hard to feed him now or even give medicine. His dextrose is going to last tomorrow. The vet said there is a little chance for our cat.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Not much I can add from home other than what I said in last email. If toxin has reached brain, little you can do other than supportive care that you have tried.

  17. jean
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    please can you help me, my 8yr ols shitz stui is in vet clinic,she has lost weight and been drinking lots of water,vet has put her on a drip,and done blood test,she is showing high level of liver problems, vet said he has seen higher levels and her liver is a bit swollen but not to large,but she is jaundice,they have phoned past 2 days saying there is no change and she is still not eating,but they are giving her food she does not like,my tara was never a very active dog,but she enjoyed her walks and was still able to go for walks before she went into vet,she was still happy to try and play a little,and could get about,but vet said she has shown no change, and is refusing food,and doesnt seem interested,i feel it is because they dont know her ways or what food she would eat,i gave her raw lambs liver and raw beef before the vets,and she ate it all,vet is saying i should think about putting her to sleep,but i have read that there are things i can try to recover her liver,but vet said ,people that say they are trying things like herbal remedies ecsetra are only fooling themselves,and because my tara is jaundice,she will not get better,and they have left me with no hope for her,she was losing weight and drinking a lot,but i didnt see any blood in pee,nor did i feel her abdomen was swollen,this seemed to happen within a week or two,please can you help me

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Two options to consider would be to aks your vet to do ultrasound of abdomen and/or refer you to internal medical specialist for further testing and definitive diagnosis of problem. You could also consult with a homeopathic vet like myself. To learn more about homeopathy see http://www.beyondflatearth.com as well as my website http://www.doctordym.com Many homeopathic vets offer phone consultations.

    [Reply]

    jean Reply:

    thku very much for quick reply,and advice, because i am on benefits i dont have the extra money to pay out, and my vet wont allow me to pay it up, he qouted me 278pounds for taras treatment , but when i got there he took 400.19 and a couple of pills to give her,no follow up to help her,i was also told by him that it was peaple fooling themselves with herbal remedies,which i disagree with, tara has eaten an egg cooked this morning and a bit odf raw salmon tonite, i am just trying to get her to eat something that may help her get something into her tummy, i hope that was okay to give her that, i will look up the sites you have sent and i wish you wer taras vet and i could take all your advice, tar was a bit livlier today also and she is drinking

    [Reply]

  18. Lisa
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Jean – Try vitamin B12 complex, and pro-biotics for digestive. I swear by pro-biotics. Try feeding veggies boiled very fine in fresh chicken broth . My catahoula was given antibiotics and fed by iv for 2 weeks. Make sure your dog has very regular visits from you if still at vet, and has their own bed from home. I brushed him when visiting – one of his favorites. Took my dog 3 months to recover. Good luck and keep us updated.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    HI Lisa: B-12 complex and probiotics are great suggestions for cats with digestive issues and/or not eating well. It can indeed take time for complete recovery.

    [Reply]

    jean Reply:

    thku lisai will keep u updated, and i willl try everything you are saying and dr michael aswell, i want to find a homeopathic vet in my area falkirk scotland,my wee tara ate a little bit of egg this morning and a bit of raw salmon,tonite,i feelk the vet i went to wasnt interested in her and he quoted me 290pounds for her treatment, but he asked that i pay 400.19pence when i collected her, he gave me a few pills to give her, but no follow up, he was basically telling me that peaple that try other things are fooling themselves, i disagree, please feel feel free to email me on jpl59@hotmail.co.uk thks again

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Hi Jean. Keep up your good work. It would be great to consult with a homeopathic vet if possible.

    [Reply]

  19. jean
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    i will take my dog tara to a homeopathetic vet,the raw salmon seems to have helped, but i will look up your website also, thanku so much ,im glad i found this site

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    HI Jean: I could potentially work with you by preferably phone or possibly email. See website http://www.doctordym.com for more details.

    [Reply]

  20. jean
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    hi, i would like to thank this site for saving my wee dogs life, finding this site and receiving the quick advice from dr dym and lisa, has given me my little tara back, i switched her to a raw diet and broccolli, cauliflower, carrot, turnip,green beans,sweet patato,cucumber, apple(no seeds)mixed herbs,also instead of sweet patato, i also use cooked rice,i give her an egg with crushed egg shell for calcium in the morning,i also give her b12 and pro biotics as adviced by lisa, and the change in my wee dog, is fantastic, she has never looked so well, i think my vet in scotland got it wrong and it wasnt liver disease, she had high blood readings, because she was unwell and had eaten a liver pate with oinions,and i beleive this is what made tara so ill and give her jaundice,it cost me £400,at vet for him to tell me i was losing my wee dog, shows you not to beleive everything, and i would tell anyone on here go to a homopathic or holistic vet,go raw and veggies ect and u will have a happier healthier animal,

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Hi Jean. So happy for you that everything worked out. Thanks for your kind words of support.

    [Reply]

  21. jean
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    dr dym i will support you and tell others of your site ,as you truly have saved my little best friends life,she is my world and i was devastated as you know when i contacted you and asked for help,i couldnt eat or sleep with the thought of having to lose my little dog, i searched the internet looking for answers and i came across your site, thank god ,i did,i listened to what you advised and i read about what you had to say about raw food and giving not only veggies but supplements also,as for my vet here in scotland ,he said we were fooling ourselves beleiving in the holistic therapy, i say he needs to retrain,and become a holistic vet,because he certainly doesnt have a clue about anything, i hope anyone reading this, will contact you and take your excellent advice, they could be saving their beloved pets life, thankyou from the bottom of my heart,jean

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Hi Jean: Thank you for your kind words. I do greatly appreciate them. You clearly love your little dog and that human animal bond and dedicated care is more than important than any medicine.

    [Reply]

  22. Prabhat
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    My dog has been diagnosed with babosia , my doc told me to save him we need atovaquone , I am from India and this is not available here , plz help me my contact no, is + 919311005650

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Not sure what I can do to help you in this tough situation.

    [Reply]

  23. Chelsea
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    My dog hasn’t been his normal self this past week. He has discharge in his eyes which I cleaned with saline this morning. It’s green. I was looking more into his eyes and discovered the whites are now yellow. I bought him so wet dog food this afternoon Hoping I could get him to get something in is stomach. He ate it however I then looked at his gums which are also yellow. Is there ANYTHING I can do for him to at least make him comfortable? I’m afraid after losing my dad we have no funds for the vet. Please help. Any info would be greatly appreciated!

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Given yellowing and jaundice of skin, probably best to have vet exam before I can advise. Serious liver disease or blood disorder is possible, which is hard to medicate at home.

    [Reply]

    Chelsea Reply:

    Thank you , we put him to sleep this evening .

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Sorry to hear about your animal companion. My heart and thoughts are with you.

  24. Lucienne
    Posted August 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I noticed that my Dog has very yellow skin and she has stopped eating for almost a week. After that she has regained her appetite and is eating normal. The skin color has changed to normal as well but then from time to time the yellow comes back. She has lost some weight but otherwise doing fine! Should I still have her checked out at the vet?

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Yes I would have vet check and blood work to see if chronic blood disorder or liver problem.

    [Reply]

  25. Lisa
    Posted August 11, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Lucienne – Please try pro-biotics for digestive and vitamin b complex. Please see my July/Aug 2012 post on this blog.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Probiotics are wonderful supplements but any pet who is jaundiced should have complete CBC/chemistry blood work to assess for underlying causes.

    [Reply]

  26. Allison
    Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I have a yellow lab 6yrs old a few months ago had a staff infection and was given Keflex today her gums and ears are yellow should we try to find a vet that is open on weekends or can she wait until tomorrow very worried

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Keflex can occasionally cause immune mediated blood cell reactions leading to yellow gums. See vet ASAP.

    [Reply]

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