Your pet’s life expectancy depends on their stage of liver disease; from months to even just a few weeks. Hepatic Encephalopathy causes seizures and confusion by allowing toxic substances normally filtered by your dog’s failing liver into their brain, potentially triggering seizures or confusion in response.
Prognosis for dogs with liver disease depends on both its cause and how quickly it’s diagnosed. Given enough time, liver cells have remarkable regeneration capabilities if given the chance, so early signs should always be kept an eye out for and follow your vets advice as recommended by them.
Early symptoms of liver disease in dogs include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine and/or yellowing gums and eyes. As the disease worsens, more severe symptoms such as an obstructed bile duct due to stones may emerge as well as digestive tract disorders and abdominal fluid retention (hepatic ascites). Finally in its final stages a dog could suffer seizures, coma or even die.
Veterinarians can diagnose liver disease through blood tests and urinalysis. A veterinarian will measure how your dog’s liver is performing by measuring liver enzymes, bilirubin, albumin glucose and urea levels; using hepatic ultrasound they can assess damage to the organ as well as identify possible sources such as portosystemic shunts that allow blood bypass the liver (hepatobiliary shunt).
When toxic toxin exposure is suspected, your vet will take steps to minimize absorption by inducing vomiting or performing gastric lavage (flushing the stomach) or providing antidotes if available. He or she may also attempt to address the root cause and treat any infection that arises, including using injectable antibiotics or even performing liver transplantation if damage to this organ is severe enough.
Cirrhosis, the final stage of liver disease, occurs when most of your pet’s liver cells become dysfunctional and it becomes difficult to detect. At this stage, treatment should focus on relieving symptoms and making your pet comfortable.
Maintaining regular wellness bloodwork for your pet is of utmost importance in order to detect and address any abnormalities early. This will help avoid long term liver disease as well as ensure they receive appropriate care during their senior years.
Once cirrhosis reaches this stage, its disease has progressed so far that normal cells no longer able to regenerate begin dying off and causing swelling and enlargement in the liver. Over time as normal cells die off and scar tissue replaces them, cirrhosis becomes rubbery and firm as rubbery tissues replace normal ones, giving way to rubbery and firm structures within.
At this point, it becomes difficult for the liver to function optimally and toxins cannot be flushed from your system efficiently, leading to various symptoms including lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and polyuria/polydipsia that may vary over time.
At this stage, a dog’s quality of life rapidly declines. They may become depressed and lethargic due to a lack of energy; furthermore, as toxins build up in their system they begin losing control over bodily functions such as movement and coordination.
A veterinarian will conduct several tests to assess how much functioning liver there is remaining, including measuring elevated liver enzymes (a telltale sign of poor health), checking platelet counts and blood clotting factors abnormalities, as well as measuring plasma ammonia levels – all indicators of severe hepatic dysfunction.
Treatment will vary depending on what is causing liver disease in your pet. If toxins are the source, your vet may induce vomiting and gastric lavage to try and rid the body of them; additionally they may prescribe medication which reduce further absorption or act as an antidote against them.
Diet and medication can help slow the progression of chronic liver disease in dogs. Therefore, early diagnosis is key, while owner compliance with diet and medication will determine its success. If symptoms worsen to such an extent that your dog cannot function or is in pain anymore, then making the difficult choice to euthanize may become necessary; though this decision will always be painfully personal for both parties involved.
At this stage, the liver has lost most of its functionality and cannot regenerate on its own, whether due to an acute event like ingestion of toxicants or chronic disease and fibrosis. Unfortunately, this phase of canine liver disease often has poor prognosis; however, with careful medications and diagnostic testing by your veterinarian you may still help your dog regain his liver health and enjoy life again!
At the first sign of liver issues in your dog, it is vitally important that they visit a veterinarian immediately in order to give him or her the best chance at recovery and prevent long-term damage to his/her liver.
Early stages of liver disease in dogs will show symptoms such as loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy and jaundice. A liver biopsy may be needed to confirm a diagnosis and uncover what may be causing the issue; during this procedure your pet will be sedated for comfort and radiographs will be taken of its liver and surrounding organs.
Denamarin can help many dogs with liver disease or damage live long and healthy lives with minimal symptoms for years. Your vet may suggest feeding them a diet with more carbohydrates than proteins to lower ammonia levels in their bloodstream, along with using other treatments like lactulose to bind toxins in their gut, vitamins, or low sodium diets that reduce stress on kidneys.
Unfortunately, most dogs in the later stages of liver disease will die unless its cause can be addressed and/or eliminated. Therefore it is crucial that everything possible be done to prevent liver disease in your pet in the first place; even with aggressive treatments they usually succumb within days to weeks due to liver failure – early detection and detection are therefore key components to survival.
At its final stage, liver dysfunction becomes irreparable and dogs in this stage may experience symptoms including abdominal distension, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and even neurological disorders like blindness. If this stage has reached your pet, they require immediate veterinary care.
Your vet will try to identify what caused liver disease in your pet and treat that factor directly. If toxins were toxin source, induce vomiting or gastric lavage may be used to ensure no more absorption occurs. They also aim to limit protein consumption so as to avoid raising blood ammonia levels which could potentially lead to neurological issues.
If liver disease is detected early enough, it may be reversed. A healthy liver has an abundance of reserve capacity to replace damaged cells as they die off; so if this disease is caught quickly it’s highly likely your pet will make a full recovery.
But, if the disease progresses to the final stage of cirrhosis, treatment becomes irreversible and vet care can only offer limited help; keep toxins out of their system, manage pain and discomfort effectively and provide comfort in the final weeks or months of their lives.
Vets can prescribe medications to lower ammonia levels, manage your dog’s pain and slow liver damage progression. Furthermore, supportive therapy will be provided so your pet may enjoy his or her final moments with you.
Watching your pet suffer through liver failure is heartbreaking, yet knowing when it is the appropriate time for euthanization will make this difficult decision much simpler for both of you. Regular wellness tests with your vet are the best way to determine when it may be time for this decision – this way they may catch any problems before they progress further into final stages of disease, giving your pup time to enjoy life while making fond memories with you!