Jump to section
A dog's liver is an extremely important part of the digestive and immune systems, filtering out toxins ingested by the animal and preventing them from being absorbed into the blood. However, certain health conditions can result in the liver starting to malfunction and thereby release quantities of these toxins into the body. In extreme cases, the liver will stop functioning altogether, allowing extremely hazardous substances to build up in the tissues of the dog's vital organs. In order to stop this from happening, a vet can provide various pharmaceutical drugs to counteract the effects of the condition in question. However, this treatment can be accompanied with careful dietary supplementation to help keep the liver in a good condition. Natural products containing things such as antioxidants can be a great way to both combat and prevent liver problems.
The process of giving the dog supplements is relatively straightforward, though owners should remember that it does not take precedence over the treatment prescribed by the vet to deal with the underlying condition that is causing the liver problem. Many dogs will at first be suspicious of new ingredients or medications, meaning that they may attempt to refuse to eat food that they know contains the supplements. Because of this, it will usually be necessary to thoroughly mix the vitamin tablets or thistle extract into a portion of wet food to ensure that the dog ingests it. Alternatively, owners can teach the dog to associate eating the supplement with a reward, making it easier to give them other medications in the future. This feeding can continue once per day for an indefinite period of time, as this will help sustain a healthy liver should the same symptoms appear again.
Whilst natural and herbal methods of strengthening the liver are quite useful in the long-term, it is important to note that they are not to be used to directly treat the underlying problem. This means that these supplements will have little effect on major conditions such as cancer or a severe case of poisoning. In such cases, treatments such as chemotherapy may be necessary to kill tumors or activated charcoal administered to absorb hazardous materials in the digestive system.
Following the successful treatment of the damaged liver, it will be perfectly acceptable to continue providing the dog with things such as vitamin supplements to help rebuild the organ's strength. However, it will be important to feed the animal a bland diet for the first few weeks, in order to let the liver to recover from any damage sustained (this can be especially important if a poisoning damaged the stomach and intestines as well). If a surgical procedure was performed (such as to remove a cyst), then the dog will need to receive regular doses of painkillers and antibiotics for the duration of the recovery period. The vet will most likely want to schedule several follow-up appointments to make sure that the dog is recovering properly and to check for any indication that the condition could return.
Happily, the overall price of most natural supplements is fairly low, with multivitamins, for instance, being in the range of $10 for a bottle containing a month's supply of pills. Extracts such as milk thistle can be a little more expensive due to the costs associated with their production and storage, but not by a significant margin. On the other hand, treatments that directly attack the source of the problem with the dog's liver will be much more expensive. Chemotherapy can cost over $1,000 for a full course of treatment, as well as requiring a significant time commitment.
Despite the long-term positive effects of naturally supporting the liver, some owners may be concerned about giving additional dietary supplements to their dog whilst they are undergoing treatment for a serious health problem. This is understandable, as there are many foods available that may place an additional burden upon the liver. For this reason, dog owners should make sure to consult with their vet before providing any additional treatment to the animal, so that they can make sure that they will not inadvertently exacerbate the condition.
Whilst there are plenty of effective treatments available for dealing with liver diseases, it is far more preferable to have the dog avoid such problems entirely. Cancers can be almost impossible to predict with any degree of certainty, though genetic screening for certain types can let owners know that their dog may benefit from a regular check-up, which can potentially result in catching a tumor in its early stages of development, making it much easier to treat. Poisonings, meanwhile, can be avoided by making sure things such as cleaning chemicals and hazardous materials are securely stored away from the dog's normal living area. Additionally, owners can massively reduce the risk posed by plants to their dog by familiarizing themselves with the types of flora growing in their local area. Owners can also ensure a healthy liver by feeding their dog a balanced diet with plenty of protein, setting them up for optimal organ health and development.
*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.
© 2020 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.
Download the Wag! app
Download the Wag! app