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Liver Disease in Dogs


The liver is the body’s largest and one of the most important organs. It is responsible for making many of the chemicals the body needs to function properly, it breaks down substances and detoxifies the blood, and also acts as a storage unit for vitamins and minerals. Because the liver acts as a filter and works to rid the body of damaging substances, this means it is vulnerable and greatly impacted by what enters the body. In this blog we aim to address what liver disease is, what causes it, some of the symptoms, as well as what preventative measures can be taken and the holistic treatment options that are available.


Liver disease occurs when there is an overload of toxins entering the body throughout a life time, which eventually compromises proper functioning. While the liver is well equipped at regenerating itself, there comes a point when there is significant damage that cannot be repaired- this is known as liver disease. Over half of the functional tissue must be destroyed in order to be classified as liver failure. It is nearly impossible to reverse the damage when scars are formed where healthy cells once were. However, there is much that can be done to stop the progression of liver disease and manage symptoms to keep your dog happy and comfortable for years.


  • age – organ health tends to deteriorate as dogs age
  • breed– some dog breeds are more at risk than others
  • medications – put strain on the organs, causing them to work harder than needed
  • ingesting toxic plants or drugs – similar to medications but put even more strain on the organs to rid the body of the ingested toxin


  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • nausea and vomiting
  • increased thirst and dehydration- the body must take in more fluid in order to successfully flush out toxins

    A dog with fluid distention
  • increased urination
  • abdominal enlargement and distention – build up of fluid
  • jaundice
  • blood clotting disorders – wounds may be less capable of healing because less blood clotting proteins are being produced
  • bloody urine and stool

    A dog with jaundice – notice the yellow gums
  • grey colored stool – bile is what gives stool its normal color and when the liver isn’t producing enough bile, it turns a pale grey color


  • easily digestible diet – a biologically appropriate diet with a high moisture content that is also low in fat is easy on the body to digest
  • high quality proteins – particularly those low in fat
  • low sodium diet for dogs experiencing excess fluid retention and bloating
  • feeding once daily– allows the organs to rest and not be constantly working to digest food. **If your dog begins producing bile due to a long span of time without food, feeding twice daily is a better option**
  • supplements such as milk thistle – a very powerful antioxidant that blocks toxins from entering the liver and removing them at a cellular level. This results in regeneration of cells and improved organ function. Our favorite supplement is Liver Care by NaturPet
  • DMG– An amino acid that helps rebuild cells and support elimination of toxins from the body
  • subcutaneous fluids– to help prevent dehydration in the circumstance that simply consuming water is not enough

Although liver disease can have some terrible effects on your dogs body, there are many ways to suppress symptoms and stop progression. It is best to catch this disease early on when the liver still has a chance to regenerate and regrow damaged cells.

Milk thistle

Keep an eye on your dog to notice minor changes in appearance and behavior, and make   sure your senior dog has regular blood panels to spot trouble before it progresses. As   always, we welcome you to call or come in to ask any questions you might have!

** The suggestions given in this blog are based on the experience and knowledge of True Carnivores staff. Any of the information   given does not replace the advice of a holistic veterinarian.**

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