Is Your Animal Suffering From Liver Injury or Failure?

Are you worried that your dog or cat might be suffering from liver failure or another type of liver injury? This guide will help you learn more about the two most common problems concerning the liver – cirrhosis and fibrosis.
liver injury and failure in pets

Cirrhosis and Fibrosis in Pets

Cirrhosis is when the liver slowly deteriorates, replacing healthy tissue with scar tissue that, over time, will ultimately restrict blood flow through the organ. It is usually associated with regenerative nodules and results in a severely deranged liver architecture that eventually ends in liver failure.

Fibrosis, on the other hand, is actually the first stage of scarring in the liver. Liver injury usually starts out with fibrosis; then, as it progresses, it evolves into cirrhosis, which is the more serious of the two conditions.

How Does Liver Failure in Pets Occur?

Liver failure is something that can be inherited or acquired. Certain breeds of canine are especially pre-disposed to long-term liver problems, such as Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, and Cocker Spaniels. Liver disease can also be caused by chronic inflammatory bowel disease, chronic inflammation of the bile ducts, certain infectious diseases, and drug-related toxicity.

If your pet has cirrhosis or fibrosis of the liver, then you will start to notice several tell-tale signs. Here is a checklist that you can use to monitor your pet so your veterinarian will have the most comprehensive information at their disposal when treating him or her. Simply check the box beside the symptom if you have observed it in your pet.

Check the symptoms your dog of cat is exhibiting:

• Lack of energy
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Poor body condition
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Constipation
• Black, tarry stools
• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Seizures
• Blindness
• Skin lesions
• Fluid retention in the abdomen
• Drooling (in cats)
• Jaundice

Once you’ve completed the checklist, print it out and take it to your veterinarian so you can discuss your pet’s condition with the vet. It is important to note that there is a variety of conditions that can cause one or more of these symptoms, so just because your pet might exhibit one or more signs and symptoms mentioned above, it does not automatically mean that he or she has liver failure.

Treating Liver Injury in Your Dog or Cat

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination of your pet, review her medical history, and discuss any potential incidents that may have played a role in the development of her condition. Usually, a complete blood count is ordered as well as a blood chemical profile, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis to rule out other potential health problems.

Depending on what the vet finds, a fine needle aspirate may be taken from the liver and the sample sent to the lab for a more thorough cytologic analysis. A liver biopsy may also be necessary before the veterinarian can make a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment of Liver Injury in Pets

If after the examination, the veterinarian diagnoses your pet with cirrhosis or fibrosis, treatment will vary depending on the severity of the case. In some cases, as long as the pet is eating and drinking normally, she may be able to be treated on an outpatient basis. But, if it is a more severe case of liver injury, then hospitalization with fluid therapy may be required. B-complex vitamins have been shown to be beneficial to some pets, so the veterinarian may prescribe them. In very serious cases, surgery may be required.

In the event your veterinarian decides to prescribe medications or supplements to your dog or cat, you can receive a free quote for your pet’s needs from Diamondback Drugs. We can help you save money on your pet medications and supplements.

As always, be sure to inform your veterinarian about any medications or supplements your pet is currently taking so your vet can make the best treatment decision for your pet’s unique case and help reduce the risk of a potential drug interaction.


Author: Giano Panzarella