There are a number of liver diseases that can affect the health of any number of breeds of dogs. Unfortunately, there are no cures for some of them, but much can be done to help the dog stay active and comfortable during its shortened life. The liver is one of the most important organs in the body, including detoxifying the blood supply, removing waste, producing bile and aiding in digestion. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the diseases the liver can develop and what kinds of treatments are available.
Acute Hepatic Failure
Acute hepatic failure can develop as a result of dying liver cells, causing the liver to lose its function very rapidly. This can occur due to several causes, including lack of oxygen, toxins or drugs, or as the result of getting an infectious disease. Some of the symptoms of acute hepatic failure include vomiting, depression, seizures, or diarrhea. A veterinarian can diagnose acute hepatic failure through blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds or by taking a biopsy of the liver. Treatment can include IV fluids to help keep the body hydrated, sedatives for the intestinal tract, antibiotics and vitamins.
Hepatic Lipidosis, or Fatty Liver, is the accumulation of fat in the liver. Often the result of another medical issue, fat can gather in the liver when the dog has lost its appetite and refuses to eat. The reason for the loss of appetite could be due to diabetes, intestinal disease, cancer, or other diseases that could cause a loss of appetite. In this case, it is vitally important for the dog to eat, in order to regain liver function. Some veterinarians will suggest force feeding or feeding through a tube for a period of six to eight weeks.
Copper Storage Disease
While all foods contain a small amount of copper, the copper is usually absorbed by the intestines, stored in the liver and excreted. This disease develops when the liver is unable to eliminate the copper from the liver. Some breeds are predisposed to inherit this disease, such as some terriers and Doberman Pinschers. The disease can be diagnosed through blood tests, ultrasounds or through a biopsy of the liver. The disease can be controlled through medication once it has been diagnosed.
Infectious Hepatitis is a viral disease that can affect not only the liver, but the blood stream, kidneys and eyes as well. Symptoms of Infectious Hepatitis include fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. The veterinarian can diagnose Infectious Hepatitis through blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds or through a biopsy of the liver. Treatment can include IV fluids to keep the body hydrated, antibiotics and a digestible diet. This disease can be prevented through vaccination.