Signs of Liver Failure in Dog

Your dog’s liver helps digest food and hormones while removing toxins from the body. When the liver suffers from a health issue, it can stop doing its job and make your dog seriously ill. If your dog’s liver stops working, he may suffer from a lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, a belly full of fluid and jaundice or yellowing of the gums and eyes.

What causes liver failure in dogs?

Liver failure can be caused by many conditions, including the following:

Pharmaceutical preparations. Certain medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines and some anticonvulsants, can rarely cause liver failure.

Toxins. Plants, as well as other household and environmental toxins, can cause liver failure. The most common plant that causes liver failure in dogs is sago palm. Some sapphire-green algae and some varieties of wild mushrooms can also cause liver failure.

Infections. Some bacterial infections can cause liver failure. An example is leptospirosis, a bacterium-like organism that is transmitted through the urine of raccoons and foxes. Leptospirosis can cause liver failure, is treated with antibiotics and often requires hospitalization.

Cancer. Tumors can cause liver failure if a sufficient amount of the liver is affected.

How to prevent liver failure in dogs?

Liver failure cannot always be prevented. However, here are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of your dog suffering from liver failure:

Get vaccinated against health problems in your area that can cause liver health problems. Leptospirosis is a common cause of liver health problems in dogs in the United States. This is a spirochete (a bacterioid organism), the carriers of which are mainly foxes and raccoons. This is often prevented by an annual vaccination.

Be sure to get the recommended blood tests after your dog starts taking new medications. Although this rarely happens, some medications can cause liver failure. Your veterinarian usually recommends taking a blood test after starting a medication that could have this potential.

Make sure your dog’s environment is as safe as possible. It removes toxins from the environment, including xylitol (found in chewing gum and peanut butter), household chemicals, garden fungi and other toxic plants.

If you are concerned about the condition of your dog’s liver or other possible causes of liver health problems, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you formulate a plan based on your dog’s laboratory work and lifestyle.

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