What are Liver Toxins?
You may notice your dog vomiting, having diarrhea or displaying general weakness, but symptoms will most likely occur suddenly. This problem may be from a long-term buildup of toxins in the bloodstream or something your animal just ingested.
The severity of the impact will be directly correlated to your dogs existing health, age, breed, any established or currently diagnosed diseases, as well as environmental exposure. It's imperative to avoid significant liver injury, which means not taking a wait and see attitude. Regardless of whether the cause built up over time or was an acute event, veterinary care is vital to preventing further internal damage.
Certain breeds have the disclosed select genetic vulnerabilities to certain drugs that may cause liver toxicity; these include Samoyeds, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds. In all cases, puppies, just like in children, are the most susceptible to drug-induced damage or adverse reactions due to the immature nature of the body and internal organs.The liver detoxifies and disposes byproducts from normal organ systems. If liver function is compromised or too many toxins build in your dog's system, it has the potential to seriously compromise their health.
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Symptoms of Liver Toxins in Dogs
Your dog will display different symptoms depending on the cause and type of toxin. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Malaise or general weakness
- Coma in severe cases
- Lesions-red or purple spots on the skin
- Jaundice-a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
- Increased urination and thirst
- Stomach bloating
- Sudden fainting
The toxicity, type, and pattern of toxin will determine the type of event as different toxins do different types of cellular damage to the liver.
Because of this variance in possible damage, liver toxins can be categorized by two manifestations:
- Acute - a rapidly manifested condition which is most likely the result of a recent single event exposure to a harmful toxin.
- Chronic - a slowly manifested condition due to extended exposure to toxins. This type is most often caused from a dietary or environmental mineral imbalance.
Causes of Liver Toxins in Dogs
The liver is susceptible to damage because of its central role in detoxification of the body. There are multiple places toxins can originate but for simplicity, 3 primary categories include:
- Chemical - These include home products such as cleaning supplies, pesticides, human-meant medications, rat poisons or bites from toxic animals such as spiders or snakes.
- Mineral - These include elements of things you may find in your pet's food such as copper, iron or salt, but also include things toxic to humans as well such as mercury, arsenic or lead.
- Ingestibles - We know there are some things our dogs should not eat like chocolate, grapes, yeast or avocado, but there are myriad household and wild plants which can harm your dogs such as lilies, wild mushrooms or even sweet clover.
Diagnosis of Liver Toxins in Dogs
You will have to give a full history of your dog's health, time frame of the symptoms and medications. Some hepatotoxins affect multiple systems, so liver damage may not immediately be suspected. If the source of the toxin is known, your veterinarian will be able to begin treatment immediately. If the source is unknown, your veterinarian will need to first do a complete blood count. The results of this will help them determine which tests to follow up and may help in diagnosing the underlying cause. Some of the additional tests may include:
- A urine and/or stool analysis - High concentrations of protein in urine or fecal matter can be an indication of infection and/or decreased liver function.
- X-ray - This will give visual to determine cell growths or tumors which may be the cause or an exacerbatory factor in your dog's condition. Anesthesia may be administered for an uncooperative animal.
- Liver biopsy - this is done in the event cancer is suspected and/or to determine how much of the liver is damaged. Past 80% damage to the liver, your dog will not recover.
Treatment of Liver Toxins in Dogs
It is vital to remove the excess toxin from your dog's system.
- If the event was an acute occurrence in which a toxic ingestible or chemical was imbibed, your veterinarian would need to minimize the toxin's absorption. This is done through:
- Gastric lavage (pumping the stomach) if your dog is unconscious.
- Absorbents such as activated charcoal or mineral oil.
- Laxatives such as ipecac syrup or if the time frame is within 2 hours of ingestion, a 3% orally administered solution of hydrogen peroxide.
- If the event proves to be a chronic problem, your dog will likely require hospitalization and intensive fluid or oxygen therapy. It's possible they require a blood transfusion depending on the extent of the liver damage.
Recovery of Liver Toxins in Dogs
Your pet will require rest after treatment. Your dog's age, breed, overall health condition and exposure time to the toxin will determine the damage to their liver. A young dog with an acute exposure to chocolate which was rushed to the veterinarian will likely suffer less effect than an old dog with a chronic copper exposure whose symptoms manifested by degrees. Therefore, the prognosis is guarded, but management will likely include fluid therapy and dietary management. This may mean multiple small meals per day to minimize taxation on an extensively damaged liver or may simply mean a short-term saline drip to counteract dehydration. Liver damage is a serious problem, and follow-up visits to your veterinarian are necessary to determine the efficacy of treatment. It is inadvisable to give your dog any food or medications unless they are approved by your veterinarian.
Liver Toxins Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
my 7 year old miniature dachshund has a bilirubin of 17 ;ALT 1700 ultrasound does not show anything significant;FNA normal eyes jaundiced;drinks and pees a lot but is still running around any suggestions
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Is the following established diet appropriate for our dog(Mickey, Yorkshire Terrier), considering the following issues?
He has AST(got) 61 iU/l, ALT(gpt) 251iU/l, GLDH 51 iU/L, LDH 302 iU/L. He is 1.5 years old and he weights 5.3 lb, doesn’t present any symptoms, we also had the ultrasound and the liver looks fine, as the doctor mentioned. We were told to give him hepatoprotectors and milk thistle and reduce the protein in his diet around 22%.
Morning - 30 grams of wet food (3g protein, 2.5g fat, 0.3g crude fibe, 22.5g moisture) and it has 100kcal.
Afternoon - 10g cottage cheese (0.7g fat, 0.37g carbohydrate, 1.6g protein, 14Kcal) or in another day 15g Kefir (0.27g fat, 0.38g carbohydrate, 0.36g protein, 5.4Kcal)
Evening - 5g dry food Taste of the Wild (2g protein, 1g fat, 0.5g moisture, 8Kcal) with 15g boiled beef (4g protein, 39.15Kcal, 2.25g fat) with 20g mixture of boiled potato, carrot and rice (0.45g protein, 16Kcal)
Treat: Dental treat (4g protein)
A total of his daily menu contains:
- 85g total food + treat
- 17.7% protein
Do you think that we are giving him enough food/day and protein?
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Dog breed - Bullmastif and Great dane mixed. Male 5 years old
Just visited the vet and found that our dog has liver infection. Please
advice the food which could be given for dog diagnosed with liver
infection. Wire haired. Weight about 70 kgs. Gums normal. Heavy breathing.
Slightly bloated stomach.
Any diet given to animals with liver disease should be low in protein and sodium; there are many different hepatic diets which can be given to dogs suffering from any type of liver disease, Hills and Royal Canin are both universally available and have suitable diets. The underlying cause would also need to be treated as well as other liver support given during treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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