The liver is one of the most vital and complex organs in the body, providing many functions that contribute to the overall health of your pet. However, because of its many functions, the liver is prone to injury and disease, which may be undetectable from a physical exam.
Regular testing and monitoring for liver disease should also be performed when your pet is prescribed medications for long-term use. The liver, along with the kidney, processes many medications and toxins. If there is pre-existing liver disease, certain medications could damage the liver and/or change how your pet processes the medication.
Some liver diseases are hereditary or congenital and could occur at a young age, while others are more likely to occur later in life. Liver damage can be classified based on the disease process. The liver can be impacted by a systemic disease involving another organ. Sometimes, the liver is impacted by a primary liver disease, such as:
It can be easy to miss some of the clinical signs of liver disease in dogs, since they can be similar to other problems your dog could have. Common signs of liver disease include:
Every instance of liver disease is different, but most cases require several tests to make an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Your veterinarian may run some or all of the following tests:
Once liver disease has been diagnosed, it’s important to use diagnostics to monitor the progression of the disease and see how the liver is responding to treatment. Treatment and monitoring of liver disease depend on the specific diagnosis and will differ for every patient and condition. Your veterinarian will discuss options specifically for your pet.