Liver Disease in Pets

Liver disease in pets can have many different causes.

Although the liver has tremendous regenerative capacities, there are many possible causes of liver disease in dogs and cats. Certainly toxic chemical exposure from the environment, food supply and even from chemicals applied as pesticides to pets may be contributing factors.  Bacterial causes of liver disease, such as Leptospirosis, as well as viral causes have also been incriminated.

Other diseases of the pancreas, digestive tract and oral cavity may also cause secondary inflammation of the liver. When these other diseases are treated primarily, the liver inflammation will usually subside. In young animals, genetic causes of liver disease are common, including circulatory issues known as portosystemic shunts.  In middle-aged and older pets, primary inflammatory diseases of the liver may occur, as well as liver tumors. It is important that any chronically ill pet have a complete medical workup, including CBC/chemistry blood profiles, and if necessary a bile acids blood test, as well as ultrasound and ultrasound guided biopsy if needed to properly diagnose the cause of liver disease in pets.

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  1. My 12 1/2 year old pit mix has a high liver count around 160. She is on special food K/D and pills. What is the highest it could go before we have to put her to sleep? She appears to be a very healthy and happy dog. I do not want to wait until she is in any pain.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 15, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Tough question to answer, as every pet is different. USually if ALT is not over 1000, most patients are fairly comfortable. Consider supplementing with Denamarin from 1800petmeds and antioxidant proanthozone.

  3. She is already on this and it still continues to go up

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