What is Gallbladder and Bile Duct Inflammation?
As parts of your dog’s complex digestive system, the impaired functioning of the bile duct and gallbladder due to inflammation will severely affect digestion and overall health. Gallbladder inflammation can be accompanied by gallstones, and in severe cases, may be a symptom of gallbladder cancer. There is no correlation to a specific breed, and gallbladder and bile duct inflammation is no more likely to occur in either gender. Non-necrotizing inflammation occurs at any age; however, necrotizing cholecystitis is more commonly found in middle-aged and senior dogs.Your dog’s bile duct transmits bile from the liver and into the gallbladder, where it is stored and disseminated into the intestine. Bile aids in digestion, absorption of fats, and the elimination of wastes. Inflammation of the gallbladder, or cholecystitis, and inflammation of the bile duct, or choledochitis, typically occur in tandem and affect the functioning of the digestive system.
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Symptoms of Gallbladder and Bile Duct Inflammation in Dogs
The main sign of gallbladder and bile duct inflammation is jaundice, or the yellowing of eyes, skin and mucous membranes. Additional symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Shallow breathing
- Low body temperature
- Pale gums
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Swelling in upper right abdomen
Causes of Gallbladder and Bile Duct Inflammation in Dogs
Gallbladder and bile duct inflammation may be necrotizing or non-necrotizing. Either case may be caused by one of the following:
- Emphysematous cholecystitis, rare form of E. coli infection that causes restriction of blood flow to and inflammation of the gallbladder
- Biliary coccidiosis, or bile duct parasites
- Gallbladder cancer
- Bile duct cancer
- Complication of abdominal surgery
- Bacterial infection
- Abdominal trauma
Diagnosis of Gallbladder and Bile Duct Inflammation in Dogs
There are many alternative causes for the symptoms of gallbladder and bile duct inflammation; therefore, your veterinarian will consider the following: pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, gallbladder stones, liver disorders such as abscesses, and blood poisoning.
As with any visit, the doctor will conduct an extremely thorough physical examination of your dog, this will include palpation of the upper right abdomen in order to detect tenderness in the gallbladder area. A complete blood count will be taken in order to measure for anemia or any white or red blood cell abnormalities, as well as a chemical blood profile in order to measure liver enzymes. A urinalysis will be conducted in order to measure electrolytes, which will be imbalanced if your dog is positively diagnosed with inflammation. A bile acid test will likely be conducted, which does require that your dog fasts for 12 hours. Additionally, x-rays or ultrasound imaging will be utilized in order to obtain images of the digestive system, identify a thickened gallbladder wall detect gas in the bile duct or gallbladder.
Treatment of Gallbladder and Bile Duct Inflammation in Dogs
If your dog is diagnosed with gallbladder and bile duct inflammation, the first step to recovery will be stabilization. Your dog will need IV fluids in order to restore proper fluid and electrolyte balance. Broad-spectrum antibiotics will be utilized in order to manage the inflammation. For jaundice, vitamin K1 will be given intravenously.
In cases of necrotizing cholecystitis, treatment will ultimately require surgical removal of the gallbladder. Your dog should be able to survive and live a healthy life without a gallbladder.
Recovery of Gallbladder and Bile Duct Inflammation in Dogs
No matter your method of treatment, you will need to schedule follow-up appointments and carefully monitor your dog’s recovery process at home. If your dog has undergone surgery to remove his gallbladder, you will need to watch for a slowed heartbeat or drop in blood pressure and monitor your dog’s water intake and urine output. Contact the veterinarian immediately if you notice any negative change in your dog’s health.