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Liver Disease In Pets

See Supplements for Cats and Dogs with Liver Disease

The liver is vital to your pet's health. When functioning properly, it performs crucial processes like the regulation of blood sugar, the production of bile for digestion and the regulation of blood clotting. The liver also works as a filter to remove toxic substances, as well as helping to absorb fats and certain vitamins.

The liver is a vulnerable organ in dogs and cats because of its job to filter toxins. An overload of toxins can cause the liver to fail. Some pets are genetically prone to liver failure, while a lack of food can cause liver malfunction in certain animals, particularly cats. Bacterial or viral infections of the liver can also cause this vital organ to stop working.

In addition to pharmaceuticals that treat liver disease, natural products such as milk thistle, antioxidants and certain vitamins can help the liver heal. These nutraceuticals support the liver’s function, enabling it to do its job as it regenerates. Pets with healthy livers can also benefit from these products, which assist the liver in removing toxins from the body more efficiently.

Symptoms of Liver Disease in Dogs and Cats

A number of diseases can cause the liver to stop functioning properly. When the liver fails both dogs and cats experience similar symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Weight loss
  • Soft and/or gray stools
  • Weakness and listlessness
Often times these symptoms are similar to other conditions and the liver remains untreated until it becomes evident that the animal is experiencing advanced liver disease. As the disease worsens toxins begin to build up in the body and the signs of liver failure become more evident:
  • Jaundice
  • Convulsions
  • Confusion
  • Swollen abdomen from fluid accumulation

While advanced liver disease can be treated effectively, it is always best to identify the signs and begin treatment early, saving your pet from unpleasant symptoms and you from costly medical bills.

The good news is that liver is remarkable in its ability to regenerate itself and so many animals go on to live normal, healthy lives after experiencing liver failure.

However, do your pet a favor - if the above symptoms persist for several days, take your companion to your veterinarian. If pharmaceutical drugs such as steroids are necessary, ask your vet if your pet would benefit from natural treatments such as milk thistle or antioxidants to combat the harsh effects of NSAID and steroids.

Natural Treatments for Cats and Dogs with Liver Problems

Diet plays an important role in the healing of the liver. Small, frequent meals which are low in fat and contain easily digestible grains will help minimize the work that the liver must do while it heals.

An important function of the liver is to remove toxins from the body. When liver disease strikes, toxins build up inside the animal’s blood stream and can cause extreme illness and even death. Subcutaneous fluids can help flush the body of excess toxins, while antibiotics can address bacterial infections that often develop as a result of liver failure.

There are several nutraceuticals that aid in treating liver diseases and are especially beneficial to restoring the health of the liver when steroids and other prescription drugs are used.

Milk thistle is often the herb of choice among holistic veterinaraians because it is a powerful antioxidant.

Milk thistle as a healing agent

Silybum marianum (milk thistle) is one of the most important herbal liver tonics and restoratives for your pet. Scientific analysis shows that milk thistle contains silymarin - a powerful antioxidant which can block the entry of toxins into the liver and remove them at cellular level, resulting in regeneration of liver cells and improved liver function.

More potent as an antioxidant than Vitamin E, silymarin acts as a scavenger on free radicals (molecules that cause cell damage), as well as increasing levels of glutathione (a prime antioxidant that protects major organs) and inhibiting the formation of damaging leukotrienes (an inflammatory agent). Silymarin also stimulates the production of new liver cells to repair damage caused by disease.

In addition to milk thistle (silymarin), there are several other nutrients which are beneficial to the liver:

  • Burdock - Used for centuries as a blood purifier and cleanser.
  • Natrium Phosphate - A tissue salt that helps to assimilate fats and promote the flow of bile from the gall bladder.
  • Natrium Sulphate - A tissue salt often recommended to detoxify the liver.
  • Dimethyglycine (DMG) – An amino acid that helps rebuild liver cells and encourages the elimination of toxins in the body.
  • Pyridoxal 5'Phospate – The active form of B6, an essential vitamin that is not easily broken down in pets with compromised livers.
  • Vitamin B12 – An important vitamin needed for proper digestion and absorption of food.
  • Choline Citrate – A chemical used by the liver to move fats in and out of the cells, which is crucial to liver health.
  • Methionine – An amino acid needed for proper detoxification of the liver.
  • N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine – An amino acid that is aids in the removal of toxins from the liver.
  • Turmeric Extract – A potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid – A powerful antioxidant that enhances the antioxident effects of Vitamins C and E.
  • Coenzyme Q10 – Also known as Vitamin Q, this nutrient is essential for healthy liver function.
  • Antioxidants -  Chemicals that capture damaging free radicals in the body and encourage healthy liver cells.

See Supplements for Cats and Dogs with Liver Problems