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What is Jaundice?

The yellow pigment that shows up on a dog's skin, gums, white area of the eyes and ear flaps is called yellow jaundice or icterus. Yellow jaundice is the result of too much yellow pigment that travels through a dog's blood and body tissue. On darker dogs, it may be less noticeable than dogs with lighter fur, lighter gums or lighter skin pigment.

A high concentration of bilirubin is the causation of the yellow discoloration, commonly associated with jaundice (or icterus), within the mucous membranes of the gums and genitals. The result of which is a serious breakdown of hemoglobin, which are present in red blood cells (RBCs).

Jaundice Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $650 - $8,000

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Jaundice in Dogs

Yellow jaundice symptoms are usually easy to detect. Yellow discoloration is visible on:

  • Eyes
  • Gums
  • Skin

Health symptoms outside of coloring would be:

  • Dark or discolored urine
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Paleness
  • Change in the feces, usually will be an orange tint
  • Increased frequency of consumption of water
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding
  • Increased frequency in urine output

As with lighter clothing, the appearance of yellow jaundice is more noticeable on dogs with lighter skin or fur (white and beige). For dogs with darker shades of fur and skin (black and brown usually), it may be easier to notice the yellowish shade around the sclerae (the white area of a dog's eyes) than it would be to notice it in the dog's skin. However, not all dogs have noticeable physical symptoms or immediate illnesses to alert pet owners of yellow jaundice.

Types

Yellow jaundice usually results in three types of illnesses. They are/found in:

  • Bile duct obstruction (found within the gall bladder and travels to the small intestine)
  • Liver disease (found within the liver and destroys cells, which cause icterus)
  • Red blood cell destruction (found within blood vessels, the spleen or liver)
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Causes of Jaundice in Dogs

Haemolysis, the destruction of red blood cells leading to yellow jaundice, can be found in blood vessels, the spleen, and the liver. It is the result of toxins in drugs, parasites, and plants on red blood cells.

Destruction of red blood cells may be linked to:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cancer
  • Heartworm diseases
  • Trauma

Liver disease and bile duct obstruction are also possible causes. The latter illness is linked to any toxins that affect bile going from the gallbladder to the small intestine during the digestion process. Bacterial and viral infections may also be a factor in some cases of yellow skin jaundice.

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Diagnosis of Jaundice in Dogs

For liver disease:

  • To determine if liver disease is linked to jaundice, blood tests are taken in the following forms:

    • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
    • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
    • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)

If liver disease is confirmed, then three biopsy tests are used to determine what caused the liver disease:

  • Fine-needle aspirate - A small gauge needle is used to collect cells from the liver to be examined underneath a microscope.

  • Surgical wedge biopsy - under anesthesia, surgery is performed to look at the abdomen to find the correct area to complete a biopsy.
  • Ultrasound guided biopsy - A large bore biopsy needle is used to collect tissue to be viewed by an ultrasound image.

For bile duct obstruction:

An ultrasound is the common procedure to examine the gall bladder and bile duct. However, this procedure is often done on dogs when the yellow shade in fur and skin is obvious. Radiographs and X-rays of the liver may be taken.

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Treatment of Jaundice in Dogs

In order to clear up yellow jaundice, the disease that leads to it must be determined. Jaundice is a symptom of other illness(es), not a disease in itself. One of three blood tests narrows down whether liver disease is a factor: Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), Alkaline phosphatase (ALP), Aspartate aminotransferase (AST). If a biopsy for liver disease is not needed, a veterinarian may choose an ultrasound to examine other body parts (gall bladder, bile duct, etcetera).

If cancer is determined, this may prove fatal if the cells are not diagnosed as benign. For malignant cells, chemotherapy may be one of few options to treat a dog diagnosed with cancer.

For liver disease, common medication -- assuming it's not too far along to treat - are:

  • Cimetidine
  • Furosemide (specifically used to improve breathing)
  • Penicillamine
  • Sucralfate
  • Zinc acetate

Some of these medications may also help to lower the rate of inflammation and scarring. However, if a pet owner does not follow the strict prescription directions for the medication, higher doses can lead to liver disease even if the dog originally had something else, such as bile duct obstruction or red blood cell destruction.

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Recovery of Jaundice in Dogs

In some cases, yellow jaundice linked to lung disease and cancer may prove fatal if not treated in time. Unlike cancer, it is possible for dogs to live a decent life with lung disease. Their lives may be much shorter than other dogs, though.

Vitamin K may be used to treat and control bleeding disorders while Vitamin E is an antioxidant to get rid of free radicals that could do damage to the liver. However, a veterinarian will determine if these medications are necessary or useful depending on the diagnosis.

Routine vaccinations beforehand will help dogs avoid the risks of adenovirus and leptospira bacteria that leads to infectious hepatitis.

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Jaundice Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $650 - $8,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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Jaundice Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Sweety

dog-breed-icon

Pug

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Jaundice

My dog died yesterday. Her name was Sweety. One week ago i visited to vet. Doctor said she having jaundice. Blood test all were done she had less homoglobin And doctor started giving her insulin in injection of protein etc etc 5 days later doctor told she's fine now but suddenly next day after giving her insulin she stood up and sat with tongue outside and peed and stopped breathing at vet. Than doctor told she's dead when i asked why she's dead you told yesterday she's fine than doctor didn't said me clearly he said because she was having low homoglobin it was 4

July 10, 2018

Sweety's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Jaundice is a symptom and not a condition, but from your description it sounds like Sweety was suffering from haemolytic anaemia where there is a destruction of red blood cells by either infection, parasites, poisoning or immune mediated disease. In severe cases, there is not enough haemoglobin in the blood to carry oxygen and this may lead to death. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 11, 2018

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Temperance Eve Chisolm

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Dark Urine Yellow Skin Peeing On Th

She has started peeing dark yellow now on my bed an pooped in my bed 2 times scratches a lot An her skins is got ayellowish color she is 7 yrs old I have been in an out a lot more here lately she also vomits a lil sometimes should I Bee concern

June 20, 2018

Temperance Eve Chisolm's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

You should be concerned and should visit your Veterinarian immediately for an examination and for a blood test initially to start to determine the cause of the jaundice; liver failure is the main concerned but other causes like bile duct obstruction or haemolytic anaemia may also cause jaundice. Jaundice is a symptom not a condition or disease so any treatment or management would be dependent on the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 21, 2018

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Pariah

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Heeler

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

No Appetite, Lethargic, Jaundice

Our dog was diagnosed with liver failure. We noticed last week she was very lethargic and wouldn’t eat. She was also urinating even while laying down. We had blood work ran on Sunday and received the sad news that she will probably not pull through this. Her eyes, gums, and skin are yellow. She has stopped peeing, won’t eat, but will drink water. The vet prescribed us pain and nausea meds for her. Our biggest concern is keeping her comfortable and happy. Is there a possible time frame on how long she has?

June 14, 2018

Pariah's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to say how long she has left, there are many different causes for liver failure which progress at different rates but when the skin starts to yellow you know you’re getting to the final phase and should prepare yourself for the unthinkable. For know, ensure that Pariah is comfortable and is keep hydrated; if she seems to be in distress or you’re generally concerned you should return to your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 14, 2018

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Hero

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Lhasa Apso

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
No Eating

My DOG name Hero is suffering from Jaundice. I am attaching a copy of report and medicines that doctor prescribed. He was hospitalised for 3 days but after that testing again doctors could not find any improvement. So please advise if this prescription is correct.

April 19, 2018

Hero's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

I do not see any report or medications here for Hero unfortunately; however it is important to note that jaundice is not a disease but a symptom caused by another condition. Jaundice may be caused by a variety of conditions which may include destruction of red blood cells, liver disease or bile duct obstruction (which are the three main group of causes); the treatment would be dependent on the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 20, 2018

Hello my pet name is Charlie (husky) 1yr old ,his reports shows increased SGPT to 69mg/dl . And he has haematuria his usg abdomen shows thickening of urunary bladder!! He is not consuming food orally !! No improvement in condition since 5 days !! Can you suggest me the further move

June 6, 2018

Darshan D.


If my dog ate something that made him sick, how long would it take for jaundice to show?

April 25, 2018

Tobias Omni W.

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Miley

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Mutt

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Yellow Skin

My dog just died. She was just fine and suddenly became yellow, started urinating blood and was unresponsive. She received a blood transfusion at her arrival to the vet’s office. Two days later she was dead. The vet wont give me any answers and I’m feeling heartbroken an desperate. I want to know what could have happened to my dog.

April 17, 2018

Miley's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without knowing more about Miley, I'm afraid I can't give much insight into what might have happened, but I am sorry for your loss. Jaundice usually indicates either liver disease or an immune mediated blood disorder, both of which can be quite serious. It would be totally acceptable to ask your veterinarian what they think happened, for your peace of mind. I am sorry again for the loss of your Miley.

April 17, 2018

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Chinky

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Shih Tzu

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Jaundice
Frequent Urination
Anorexia
Shaking When Sleeping

Pls help what home remedy can I do. My dog's been diagnosed with liver failure and heart enlargement. She's on maintenance meds Liv 52 and Nefrotec. Since we started her medication and switched her diet to hepatic food, she doesnt have the appetite anymore. Even when we give her table food, still not interested. Her poop is yellow orange and she drinks water frequently and her pee is dark colored too. I know these are all signs of jaundice. But any advice on what to do to make her eat? Is it ok to give her goats milk? And for her heart, should we give her meds like vetmedin or any cardio meds? SI dont want to lose her yet. Shes my everything pls help :( she tstill loves to walk outside and she like to drink milk and her vitamin supplement nutrigel.

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Sam

dog-breed-icon

Pug

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Jaundice
Jaundice Liver Damage

Hi sir My pug Sam is in jaundice and his liver is not working properly yesterday doctor punctured extra water from his liver also he is breathing fastly and not doing urine please suggest me what can i do he is not eating or drinking Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/jaundice

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Bruno

dog-breed-icon

Miniature Pinscher

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Bloody Diarrhea

Hi guys, my dog passed away after jaundice were diagnosed. He was very lethargic, had an appetite loss, extreme weight loss. Took him to our vet and he was admitted immediately. They put a camera down his throat and it turn out it infected his all his organs, they started treatment and the next morning they phoned me to say he has deteriorated during the evening. Our vet told me that with every breath he is taking he is suffering and she suggested that we make the most humane decision, euthanasia... at first I didnt want to I wanted to go get him and let him pass away with me but it would have been selfish of me by making him suffer. Please if you see any symptoms that lead to jaundice in your pet seek immediate vet care.

dog-name-icon

Austin

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Yellow Urine,Loss Apetite,Increased

My labrador austin is 1year 5months old and he is having a dark yellow colour urine.just a couple of months before he had high fever of about 106.6°f he was salinated and had a blood test..he was given a course of doxycycline for 21 days and livo+ and also thrombfit. Plz hlp me. He is eating everything just ignoring rice and vegetables. Report of blood test Bilirubin-0.179 Sgpt-95.31 Sgot-136.58 Total protein-5.24 Albumin-3.03 Globulin-2.21

Jaundice Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $650 - $8,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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