The liver is one of the most important organs for your pet's overall health. It performs critical 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 toxins as well as helping to absorb fats and certain vitamins.  An overload of toxins can cause the liver to fail. Some pets are genetically prone to liver failure, while vitamin deficiencies can cause liver malfunction in other animals, particularly cats. Bacterial or viral infections of the liver can also cause this vital organ to stop working.

Natural ingredients such as milk thistle, turmeric (curcumin), antioxidants and certain vitamins can help the liver heal. These ingredients 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 - yellow discoloration of gums, eyes and skin
  • 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.

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.

Milk thistle is often the herb of choice among holistic veterinarians because it is a powerful antioxidant.  Scientific analysis shows that milk thistle contains silymarin 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..

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

  • Curcumin/Turmeric Extract – A potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
  • Dimethyglycine (DMG) – An amino acid that helps rebuild liver cells and encourages the elimination of toxins in the body.
  • SAMe - S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) Supports liver function through methylation and formation of glutathione.
  • Vitamin E - Protects the liver from copper accumulation
  • Vitamin B12 – An important vitamin needed for proper digestion and absorption of food.
  • Methionine – An amino acid needed for proper detoxification of the liver. Methionine helps metabolize fats, preventing their build-up in the liver. It is a powerful antioxidant and helps maintain glutathione. Glutathione is the liver's most important detoxifier.
  • N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine – An amino acid that is aids in the removal of toxins from the liver.
  • Artichoke - Artichoke Leaf helps to normalize liver metabolism and promote bile flow
  • Dandelion - Dandelion leaf encourages proper liver function by suppressing fat accumulation in the liver. 
  • 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.