When the liver fails both dogs and cats experience similar symptoms:
- 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:
- 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.
Preventing Liver Disease
The best way to prevent liver diseases is to avoid exposing your pet to toxins and chemicals. Some common potential liver toxins are:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, Rimadyl, Teogesic or Feldene
- Cortisone (steroid) compounds
- Heavy metals, i.e. mercury from some deep-sea fish and lead from paint chips
- Phenobarbital (Note: For seizures, a safe alternative to phenobarbital is potassium bromide.)
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.
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 veterinarians because it is a powerful antioxidant.
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.
Other natural ingredients that are used to restore the liver include DMG, Burdock and Natrium Phosphate.
Visit these links or more information about specific liver disease in dogs and cats: Hepatitis, Copper-Associated Hepatophy, Hepatic Lipidosis, Cholagiohepatitis.