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Advice From Dr. Lindsey: Liver Issues in Dogs

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Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM

If you have had an older dog, it may have been diagnosed with a liver problem. Liver problems aren’t just in older pets though. The liver is an important organ that helps in digestion and to remove toxins from the body. Symptoms of liver issues can be vague and difficult to distinguish from other problems. They can include things like weight loss, inappetence, yellowing of the skin, vomiting, or loose stools. There are many causes of liver problems too such as certain medications, toxins, aging, bacterial issues, etc.

Since liver issues can be difficult to distinguish from other problems, your veterinarian will likely want to run some tests if your dog is sick. Bloodwork and urine tests are a common place to start in order to figure out what is wrong with a sick pet. If something comes up on those tests indicating a liver problem, further testing like an ultrasound may be recommended. Treatment of liver problems will depend on the what is discovered during these tests. Some options could include medication, diet change, hospitalization for IV fluid therapy, or surgery. Depending on the liver problem, some medications may need to be life-long. It’s also important to follow up regularly with your veterinarian so they can periodically monitor the dog’s bloodwork for any changes in the liver issues and to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.



Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.