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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