Canine Liver Disease: Causes and Symptoms

September 19, 2010

By Ruthie Bently

Canine liver disease is the fifth leading cause of death for dogs, and it’s estimated that three percent of all diseases veterinarians see are connected to the liver.

Canine liver disease has many causes, such as physiological, physical and chemical. It can be called “prior” or “after” liver disease. An example of “prior” liver disease would be a cancer; an example of “after” liver disease is a blocked bile duct.

The liver is the second largest organ in a dog’s body (after the skin) and is the workhorse of their body. It’s a specialized manufacturing and pollution control center, and is what makes the body function properly. The liver processes food eaten, manufactures the necessary building blocks, detoxifies and recycles the blood, and gets rid of the waste created. Since the liver is connected so intricately to the biochemistry of an organism, it can make diagnosing canine liver disease difficult. Liver disease can affect many body functions and in turn the liver can be affected by many other organs and systems of the body.

If not too far advanced, the symptoms and disease may sometimes be reversed due to the liver’s ability to completely regenerate. However, the disease must be managed properly to allow this to happen. A dog’s liver can be damaged up to 80% and still function normally due to its reserve capacity; because of this capability, the disease may be too far advanced and untreatable by the time it’s diagnosed. The largest challenge facing veterinarians diagnosing canine liver disease is that the symptoms are not predictable and may not be specific. Due to the paradoxical attributes of the liver, diagnosing and treating the disease can be exceedingly difficult.

Canine liver disease has a myriad of causes, and what follows is only a partial list. Any number of traumas to a dog may result in liver disease: a hernia to the diaphragm, being hit by a car, a bruise or heatstroke. A diet that’s too high in fats can affect the liver; females are more prone to this than males. A dog with chronic infections (i.e. tooth problems) can contract liver disease. Fungal and bacterial infections can cause liver disease, as can parasites like heartworms and roundworms.

Certain drugs can cause side effects that result in liver disease, including acetaminophen, anabolic steroids, antibiotics, anesthetics, ASA, chemotherapy drugs, cortisone, corticosteroids, glucocorticoids, certain parasiticides given over extended periods, phenylbutazone and Phenobarbital.

Contact with toxins from pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, bleach, household cleaners and paint chips that may contain lead can all cause liver disease. Your dog could contract hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver. Cancer can overwhelm a dog’s system or metastasize directly to the liver itself and lead to issues.

Certain dog breeds are hereditarily prone to copper storage disease (a.k.a. canine copper hepatotoxicosis), a form of liver disease. An exaggerated amount of copper accumulates in their liver and if left untreated can be fatal. There’s also a chance of these breeds developing cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis.

There are numerous symptoms for canine liver disease. Jaundice is the most recognizable; a tint from yellow to orange will appear. It is most easily seen in the sclera (white) of the eye, but is also visible in the gums and skin of an affected dog. You may see more frequent urination which may also be tinged between lemon yellow and bright orange. Your dog may be thirstier or have an unquenchable thirst. Their abdomen may look distended and be uncomfortable to the touch. They may have a lack of appetite, chronic weight loss, recurring gastrointestinal issues or bloody vomiting. Their feces may be yellow or orange, a paler color than normal, or they may have bloody diarrhea with the above characteristics. You may observe strange behavior, circling, lethargy, no interest in playing or walks, or accelerating depression.

If your dog is diagnosed with canine liver disease, you should remove any toxic agents that could be involved. This includes any drugs that may harm the liver further.  If your dog is on medications with sodium or potassium, your vet may change or decrease those medications to eliminate the intake and retention of those minerals. If your dog is on Phenobarbital for seizure management, your vet may change their medication to decrease damage it may cause. Your vet may suggest distilled water to lessen the effect of minerals in the water. They may also put your dog on a special diet or prescribe a diuretic to control water retention. Your vet may suggest rest and confinement which will allow the body to focus needed resources on the healing process. If caught early and the liver isn’t too compromised the condition is reversible. Being alert to symptoms of canine liver disease, a responsible pet owner can save their dog’s life.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Pet Foods.

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  1. Michelle R. says:

    We lost our sweet Zoey on March 5th. We noticed her behavior changing dramatically but we thought it was from her being fixed 9 months prior.
    Zoey was so depressed, sluggish and never wanting to go outside. I felt so bad, would take her for walks, gave extra loves and even thought of training her to be a service dog to help her feel better.
    Then things took a huge turn for the worst. We noticed that she wasn’t eating nor coming in from outside. Zoey had diarrhea and would vomit dark stuff. I was hoping it was from her getting into the garbage but it also scared me to death. Come to find out it was blood from having liver and kidney failure. We took her to the vet at 5 pm and they couldn’t find a vein she was so dehydrated, her gums were white and she was extremely cold. They gave her fluids and told us to make her comfortable.
    From the time the symptoms really started showing Zoey was gone within 6 days. She passed away that night at 8:30 pm on our couch, while I had one arm around her and my other arm under her head. Just before Zoey passed I told her that I loved her so much and that it’s okay for her to go. As soon as I said those words I felt Zoey take her last breath. It killed me and all of us couldn’t stop crying. Zoey was always there for me when I was having a rough day by putting her head in my lap or laying next to me. For being 7 years old she was the most docile black lab I’ve ever met/owned and she also loved giving hugs by softly jumping up to your chest and leaning in. We miss her so much but we know Zoey is pain free, happy and watching over us.

    1. tammy downie says:

      im crying now. my zana is going threw somthing and i feel as im going to lose her. . i do feel your pain. im sorry

  2. jane sara louise blakeborough says:

    3 weeks ago i noticed my 21 month old border collie had lost a lot of weight and he was not eating well. he has always had a a good diet and everything he ate was monitored carefully as he had severe food allergies. took him to the vets and were given an appointment at the vet hospital. they did bloods ultraound and x rays. the results came back as enlarged liver covered in nodules scar tissue and holes. fluid was leaking from his liver into his abdomen. diagnosis liver failure. he was then booked in for a biopsy but it was 2 weeks later. i was told to give him a low protiene diet which i did home made as instructed rice peas carrot small amount of chicken. he would stop eating some days and his symptoms became worse tired zoning out pacing aimlessly. then the personalty changes started. sudden unxplained aggression. this dog was the sweetest dog ever not agressive. he would look at me like i had 2 heads or didnt know me. he was diagnosed with hepatic encephalothapy. ammonia builds up in the blood from the failed liver. this ammonia then affects the brain. i was bitten twice and my husband. i tried replacing some protiene with none meat protiene. this helped for a couple of days. his urine was very dark. he then stoped eating completley and was an awful state so we made the decision to end is suffering. he was so young watching this unfold has truly broken my heart and my husbands. very distressing and we miss him so much.

  3. Robin fahey says:

    I lost my dog this week. I took heSher to the emergency vet and she had fluid and blood in her belly, and high AZT in her liver. She was kept overnight for observation and her AZT levels increased. I was given prescriptions for her. I was able to get them filled the day after. I went home at lunch and gave her a pill. She seemed fine except not as active. I got home and she seemed lethargic and no interest in eating. I was going to take her back to the emergency vet, but she got up from the couch and followed me outside. She was a little wobbly going back in. I sat with her on the couch. Her breathing was very deep. Her breathing slowed down and she was falling asleep. I went to bed as my other dogs were jumping up and down off the couch. I woke up at 4 and checked on her. She looked like she was sleeping on the couch. She was curled up like she does when she is sleeping. However, she was dead.

  4. Jan Brenny says:

    From time to time you might hear people say, “It’s just a dog.” But, “Just a Dog” provides comfort and purpose to overcome the difficulties of the day. “Just a Dog” brings friendship, trust, and pure joy. It brings compassion and patience that makes us better people. “Just a Dog” embodies all hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and what is good in us.
    “Just a Dog” is the thing that gives us humanity and keeps us from saying, just a man or just a woman.
    Whenever you hear, “It’s just a Dog,”
    Remember, some folks just don’t understand.

  5. Kathie says:

    Simply heartbroken that we had to send our sweet Tally over the rainbow bridge today. She was 12 years old and started to eat less. Then noticed her darker urine. Was on vacation in FL and had to find a vet then ER for her
    They put her on antibiotics and liver meds. She never lost the love of walks or being outside. Luckily brought her home to MI and was able to have her play at her fav places before letting her go. She wasn’t eating anything and hated getting pills. I didn’t want her to suffer more. I can’t stop crying…12 years was not long enough.

    1. Robin says:

      I am so sorry. I love my babies too. I have three doxies, a chiweenie, a jack/ pug mix, a corgi mix and a Frenchmen mix. Two of my doxies are 16 and 17 and I can tell it’s getting close

    2. Kenny says:

      I’m not sure that these Vets really know what they are doing, I think it’s just about the money they can drain from us because we LOVE our pets. I Have A 80lb. mix pit he is acting fine took him to the vet 4/2018 and they told me his liver was elevated 427. But this started 4/2017 177 no one said anything kept taking him in for blood work 7/18-518,10/18-684,11/18-777,4/19-972. Then took him to a holistic vet she did ultrasound all good put him on Vetri ScienceSAMe225,liver canine,cell advanve 880, Herbsmith Milk Thistle took him back to my reg. vet had blood work done 4/12/19-jumped to 1694. I was a mechanic for 40 years and always held to high standards to fix to it right and did it for free why do we have to go thew this type of pain and worry?

      1. Alisha says:

        Did the milk thistle and SamE supplements help? Buying them right now!

  6. Char says:

    My Angel Jack Russell, the Dr. to us that his stupid liver was off the charts. Giving him antibiotics, Steroids think this is being worse because he is now no h20 or food like force feeding, my husband is not ready but those SAD big brown eyes say Mom HELP. Oh why is this so so hard seeing him passing just not going to be the same without Max around. God bless to all you 4 legged angels

    1. Carol Cox says:

      Im so sorry for your loss. I to had my baby Jack Russsell WILSON, almost 9 years. I got him at five weeks old. He started to get sick. Couldnt get comfortable and acted drunk at times. He bite me a few times also. I took him to vet he had enlarged liver Cushings disease. The vet just wanted more and more tests and NO CURE. I COULDNT BEAR putting my baby thru anymore hell. We decided to put him to sleep. Its been 3 weeks and I cry my self to sleep. I miss my little boy so much. At least he is in heaven able to run and play.

  7. Sandra Gonzalez says:

    My Boxer has been found to have high enzymes in her liver. She’s on a fish based diet and never eats table scraps. We don’t know how this happened. Dr has kept her over night to flush her system and give her antibiotics. When this girl has a full plate of food and won’t eat, she’s NOT well.

    1. Sandy B says:

      Hi. just reading comments. Came across yours. I, too, have a boxer with high liver enzymes. She is 12 1/2 yrs old and does not eat table food. Doc has had her on Denamarin and has discontinued at this time. Waiting to hear back from him. How is your boxer doing?

      1. tammy downie says:

        im crying now. my zana is going threw somthing and i feel as im going to lose her. . i do feel your pain. im sorry

    2. Chris says:

      I’m so sorry to hear this. I have an almost 13 yr old boxer/amstaff mix. She’s had chronic UTI’s (probably 10+) she’s just gotten over another one and I told my vet I really thought that her kidneys were compromised. Well we did a further test and the vet says her kidneys are functioning fine. I’m skeptical so I’ve added a bunch of good stuff to her diet. Her back legs go out sometimes too. But some products that have helped a LOT are milk thistle, (I have a dropper not pills) pet wellbeing kidney support gold (also a dropper) vertiScience bladder strength, and the best one yet is the missing link. They have “hips and joints” which I have but also a ton of other products. I’ve also started doing CBD treats from hemp treats. Anything for our babies. I wish you well. Miracles happen and thank the gods for the Internet.

  8. Kathy Ullio says:

    Our vet has just been admitted our miniature poodle Delilah due to severe liver disease. We brought her in for teeth cleaning. We thought that was why her appetite had lessened. X-rays indicate she has only a very small portion of viable liver. Her blood work shows extremely high levels of enzymes and most other aspects of all those levels I can’t remember. Our vet will give her antibiotics and nutrition. The whites of her eyes are jaundiced which we never thought to look at.
    I read KATE WEISGER’S post about her Rottweiler and will buy the milk thistle today and do a search for Vetri Science Liver for advanced liver support.
    Thank you Kate for sharing this vital information and hope that maybe we will be fortunate as we pray that we may get more quality time with our 14 year old Delilah. We will take whatever Delilah can give and not give up hope, however, we will not let her suffer. She will let us know when she is ready.
    Lesson learned teeth MUST be cleaned regularly and always check the whites of your little ones eyes to make sure they are white not yellow.
    We have lost three of our poodles to the Rainbow Bridge. Hopefully, Delilah is not ready to cross that bridge.
    Thank you all for your comments. You all understand how we are feeling.
    Kathy Ullio

  9. Yvonne says:

    We lost our little lhasapoo Chloe, 8 years old, w weeks ago, took her in to have her teeth cleaned, afterwards she got really sick, bloodwork showed elevated liver enzymes, I’m not even sure how this could happen, we spent 7000.00 dollars at animal hospital, she stopped eating, didnt play anymore, couldnt walk or hold her head up in the end, my heart is broken, watching her die was so hard, I miss her so much

  10. Carol says:

    My dog has copper storage disease and moans alot. No one can tell me if this is because of the disease, bloating etc. Has anyone else experienced this problem ?

  11. Isabella Acampora says:

    My Cavalier KCS had her gallbladder removed as it was diseased. Now she has elevated liver values and ultrasound shows stones in her bilinary ducts. Any suggestions?

  12. mohita malhotra says:

    my 2 year old hound lost its life because of liver failure regretting it ultimately it was a huge failure on the part of my vet who could not notice the signs of liver malfunctioning which lead to its failure she had fits and and three days later to it died in severe pain i could not notice the signs of her loosing interest in playing walking its really heart breaking god bless all canines with gud health and love

    1. john says:

      I lost my dog Sep 30, 2018. He was a Westie and was 9 1/2 yrs old. Couple of weeks ago, he stopped eating his regular dog food hes been eating his whole life. I took him to the vet and did a blood and urine panel on him. His liver enzymes were elevated in the thousands and had jaundice and high belli rubin. He was put on antibiotics and liver medication. This maybe bought him a week or two before his conditon got worse. He started pacing non stop around the house all day and night. Then he became lathargic with loss of balance and use of back legs. It was so sad to see this and we had to put him down. I wish I could of done something to help him. I miss him and its been only a couple days, but I miss him and love him so much. I feel guilty and I wish everyone out there to be more of a better pet owner then me. I disregarded some issues that might of caused this liver disease to my dog, like not keeping up with his dental. I love you boy and Im sorry I couldnt help you enough.

      1. Rachel says:

        Thank you for your words. I too wished I was more knowledgeable about caring for my friend; to have noticed my Samantha (Duck Toller) was suffering from liver disease because she too passed due to pneumonia caused by liver disease on 11/7/2018.

      2. Christine barker says:

        Please please don’t blame yourself my baby is hospitalised at the moment with severe liver disease and this has come as a big shock.This time last week she was running around the beach and swimming in the sea,out of the blue she began to vomit rushed her to the vet who sent her to the veterinarian hospital she is on intravenous fluids ,has a feeding tube in her neck and i am currently waiting for the results of blood results and CT scan.Like you i know that i will have to make a decision but if they tell me that she is not going to live life to the full and she will be on medication for life i can’t be selfish just to make myself feel better I will do the right thing for her and say goodbye i love her so much and i know like you i will hurt forever but she deserves to live a dogs life i send you my heartfelt sympathy i have been in this position a few times but i have loving memories of the dogs i have lost.
        You will recover and things will get better you never forget them and they leave you everlasting memories that you keep in your heart always

      3. Sarah Jones says:

        Do not blame yourself at all, you clearly loved him, and dogs do not show when they are initially ill, like we do. When my first dog got it and the Vet missed it I blamed myself for not pushing in with the Vet as I knew something was not right and 12 years later I still blame myself. My present rescue dog has just been diagnosed with it, when found by accident when she bloated after eating something on a walk. I too again missed the tiredness and off her food signs which I put down to her heart murmer. I believe we will see all our dogs again one day, which is something to cling onto when we feel guilt at not being able to see through just the minimal of signs. When ready, give a rescue dog a home which will be rewarding to see them happy,

  13. My 6month hound rescue received a Lipto vaccine. Not the same dog. On all kinds of meds and liver symptoms. This shot ruined my dog. Ultrasound being done today. Praying for the best. Please please do research before giving this vaccine.

    1. Joann says:

      Judith what did the ultrasound show. My dog is having liver failure as well.

    2. Ana says:

      What is the vaccine for

  14. Bob Howe says:

    My 9 year old Mcnab shepard was diagnosed with an infected liver on august 9th and has been with the vet since then. He is on a course of antibiotics and as of Sat. he seems to be a little better. His only symptoms were his inability to stand up. I had to have a neighbor help me get him into the car and he was carried into the Vet’s office on a stretcher—I’m just hoping!

    1. Zetta Magliarditi says:

      Hi… I have the same issue. How is your dog doing? Any advice would be so appreciated.

  15. My 1 1/2 yo chihuahua became sick on tuesday. His live and kidney enzymes were really elevated. He won’t eat! He’s being cared for by a vet. But so heartbroken and scared. He’s got to eat and just wont!

    1. I just lost my best friend, my confidante, my little love, my “therapy” Chihuahua, Rosie, Rosita Conchita, Baby Rose to “acute liver failure” on August 23, 2018!!
      Since it’s SO common, why isn’t “IT” the very FIRST thing your vet discusses with you, at the FIRST visit!! I will NEVER get over the loss of my “Rosie”!!
      She broke into my heart and stole a piece of it!!!

  16. bee says:

    Feb 19th 2018…. our 10 yr old female dog has a very in larged liver..(confirmed by exrays). after blood test Vets says he doesn’t know why… 430 dollars later still no answers and she stopped eating this a.m…. I bought a can of chicken noodle and she ate every bite…she moans a lot.. breaking my heart..

  17. Erica Waterer says:

    This site makes be weep. Our beautiful 8 year old chocolate lab went off his food late last week and has a reading of over 1000 for Liver ALT, (3 tests) scan clear, though has a small liver, now waiting for a biopsy on Monday (now Friday), as long as his clotting results come back ok. He is eating again and still wants to go on walks, just praying he makes it to then.

    Our previous lab puffed up with fluid at 9 and had to be put down 6 weeks later with liver cancer. I can’t believe we are going through this again, I am so heartbroken..

    1. Patricia says:

      Did you ever figure out what was the cause? My dog has a lot of similarities with yours. He got really sick beginning of April but has since
      Improved a bit. We’ve done an ultrasound and his lived looks small. His enzymes are way up in his blood work. Just wondering if you figured out what the cause was?

  18. Stephanie says:

    Only 2 days of symptoms (lack of appetite, depression, no interest in walks or just going outdoors), my 14 year old dachshund was diagnosed with liver failure. I took him to the vet at 12:30 and just 2 hours later, he was gone. We had to put him down because his liver was beyond repairable. I miss my baby so much. I don’t know what he could have gotten into but Monday he was fine, then Tuesday he was completely different. He was old but still somewhat active. Now Buster, Jake and Tito are running around doggie heaven together.

  19. Oloruntola tolulope says:

    My 2 month old dog was diagnosed liver disease just last week and later diagnosed of jaundice. She has been kept on medication and there is no improvement. Please what can I use to keep her healthy

    1. Kate Weisiger says:

      My 8 yr old Rottweiler was diagnosed with severe liver failure 3 yrs ago based on blood values and lethargy, irritability and lack of appetite. My brother who is a MD, Ph.D. Gastroenterologist ( liver) researcher recommended that I treat him with Milk Thistle available where vitamins are sold. I feed him Vetri Science Labs, Vetri Liver canine for advanced liver support. He energetic, eats well and although his liver blood work is still somewhat high he is happy and still loves to play. Hope your puppy is doing better.

      1. Kathy Ullio says:

        Thank you for sharing. We are going through this today. I hope your Rottweiler is still doing well. We are going to follow what you did and pray A LOT.

  20. Jim says:

    OMG….our 12 year old Jack Russell has had 2 days from hell with newly diagnosed liver trouble. She has Cushing’s disease and has done very well on meds, but now apparently has liver failure as well. I’m wondering what type of food would be best for her as high protein diet that she has been on supposedly not good for the liver. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance, I’m so sad she’s not feeling well – hate when our pups are ill….

    1. Char says:

      My 15 yr is on his way out and no good we give them cooked chicken and hotdogs for their shack.
      The vet put Max on steroids and antibiotics but those beautiful brown eyes OMG just want him to cross over
      I have 2 other Jack’s pray this will not happen with the because I don’t want them to be sooooo sad.
      Best of luck give that Jack a hug for me please. Charlene

    2. Amy C. says:

      My 13 yo toy fox terrier has liver disease. he is on Ursodiol for sludge in gallbladder and get lexelium live support (amazon) daily along with SAM-E. We tried Royal canin hepatic dry but he doesn’t like it. One of the pet stores nearby suggested Honest Kitchen Dehydrated white fish (it has protein, but I am told white fish does not create as much ammonia). I do mix in a few kibbles of the royal canin, but he does mostly like the white fish (sometimes I mix in Honest dehydrated chicken also). It has been about 1 year. His levels keep going up, but so far he has been happy and occasionally chases our other dog around (for a minute or two). He had an ultrasound six months ago and his hair has not grown back yet, so I know the issue persists. The vet says keep him on his meds and will recheck in August. I’ll take each day we get as long as he is eating. He does have some mornings where he wont eat, but usually by evening he is back to his hungry self. Best wishes to everyone. I hope something in here can help someone else.

  21. Chris says:

    All of a sudden my 4 1/2 yr old German Shepherd started with diarrhea and weight loss. Straight to the vet! After x rays, blood work, exploratory surgery and biopsy they came up Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Liver level was at 72 (which is good). After 6 weeks of doctoring, medicine changes, Science Diet ID food and 5 overnights at the hospital, blood work showed liver level went up to over 1000! By then it was to late. My beautiful girl was sent to the Rainbow Bridge. We were with excellent Doctors and 3 of them conferring about our case, but with the autopsy showed cancer cells.

  22. DONNA says:

    Our beloved 12yo Kelpie mix is not doing well. Noticed her weight decreased rapidly within the past week, and she’s been drinking lots of water. She also has a tender right-side on her belly, and is now clumsy when she walks. My guess is that it’s liver failure, probably due to round worms, which she has regularly come down with. We have an appointment this afternoon with the vet, and we’re very sad since we will probably have to put her down. I took the day off of work to spend with her. “All good dogs go to heaven.”

    1. Barb says:

      So treat her with worming medicine to get rid of the worms. Treat her for 5 days on Panacur. Don’t let her around other dogs where she can pick up the worms from their droppings. Don’t let her play in and eat the dirt where she can pick up more worms.

  23. Pam says:

    MyMaltese is 13 years old, eating, walking, behaving and toilet all fine. After routie blood test was told liver reading high so had scan which showed very enlarged liver. Vet wants to do biopsy as suspects a tumour. Could this be possible without any adverse symptoms?

    1. maria bonnici says:

      so many broken hearts here…..just like mine…couldn t beleive that my 9 year old cross breed lulu and chiwawha could go in 1 and half days…..i had to put him to sleep….so many times i put my fingers in his mouth for playing but never knew there was liver problems…i am heartbroken……

  24. Kim rice says:

    Our six year old Dane suddenly puffed up with fluid. Within days we found out she has liver failure. Cirrohis. Can we help her or is it to late. She seems to be weakening each day. Just 2 days ago she was running and playing. Now she us wheezing and looking like help me. The vet has her on Prednisone for fluid. I believe something for pain also. We don’t want to loose our dog but are we too late to help her. Vet says we might get till Nov or Dec. She also has liver shunts. He has her on milk thistle also

  25. amelia says:

    My 8y0 rescue is dying from liver disease. About a month ago I found a growth on his leg that had not been there the day before. Straight to the vet. Spindle cell cancer contained in a sac. Took him to Auburn University where there is a pet college. Growth removed, seemed to do well, vet said he got clean margins. 2 weeks later drinking excessively, bright yellow urine, etc. heartbroken

  26. Berta Stouffer says:

    Yorkie (4# 7oz) age 9.5 years: recently diagnosed with liver disease by local vet and internist in SC. No symptoms at this time. Original health concern was excessive drinking of water and frequent urination & several accidents. All blood and urine tests results were normal, no diabetes, infections, etc. Xrays were showed nothing unusual and her skeletal was excellent, especially for her age. The original issue began in January, first visit to the vet was in March. Other than drinking excessively and the pee accidents, there have been no other symptoms. We began administering a medication May 18th (don’t have it with me, am out of state without my pet. I know it begins with a “D”, but I’m sure that is not much help to you. My vet did say he was not going to use a toxic med, but rather a more natural approach at this time. I am taking advantage of a break in the family schedule, to use local library/computers. Her bile acids test results were “through the roof”–my vets words. Why she is asymptomatic is a puzzle to us. Do you think the lack of symptoms may indicate the chance to reverse whatever is causing the problems for Phoebe, as mentioned in this website article? If so, what do you recommend we use. I want to discuss this article and recommendations with my vet. Thank you for any insight you may be able to share.

    1. Katie says:

      I recently lost my 12 yr old aussie/chow mix. she was diagnosed with liver disease between 2 and 3 yrs old. We had a long battle with the liver but I found milk thistle, sam-e, & Denamarin daily to help. I also had her on a natural pain reliever and glucosamine and chondroitin. Prednisone may be recommended but I strongly suggest trying to avoid it if you can. I have another dog who is 13 with completely different issues who takes this med every other day and has done so for 4 years. There are a lot of side effects that can accompany this drug. Yucca is the closest thing to a natural corticosteroid there is without the bad side effects. I have my dogs on different remedies that contain yucca in order to get it into their treatment. Food, glucosamine and chondroitin, bladder health and natural pain reliever. offers all of the meds I purchase….love this site! I recommend the bladder health due to advanced stage will begin to affect the kidneys. I wish you the best of luck! I stumbled upon this site by chance and just so happened to read your story. I lost my baby 6 days ago and am still heartbroken but I hop I can help someone else have a good fight. My baby defeated odds, most dogs will not live 10 years with liver disease…we fought hard!

    2. Marcy says:

      Begins with a D? is it dandelion?

    3. Please email your reply to me as my dog has the same symptoms , has had MRI no shunt , classed as genetic problem 2 year old Daxi

  27. Nancy Besser says:

    My 4 year old shih tzu had a couple of growths removed from the back of his ear. When they did the surgery his blood work showed low liver levels. All the vet said we only worry when they are high. But I want to understand what low liver enzymes mean and what I can do nutritionally to help this or what not to do for it. I do not know anything about liver enzymes for dogs.

  28. Ditto. About two weeks ago, I had to do the same. She was only 6. Broke my heart.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I had to put my 12 year old to sleep on Monday because of liver problems. it was one of the worst days of my life, I definitely wish I would of known before it was to late.

    1. A says:

      I just put my femal yorkie down yesterday because of liver failure and it is broke my heart. I wish I would know earlier. I know exactly how you feel. I miss her and feel guilty badly.

    2. Bobbie says:

      What were the symptoms? My 7 # Chihuahua stomach extends after eating and drinking. She drinks a lot and would eat anything she ccoukd get. Her liver count is elevated. Her cPL is elevated. Yelps some at night.
      Curious your dogs symptoms. Thanks.

      1. Aru says:

        I have the excact same issue with my chihuahua who is 7 years old. He will eat anything. His liver numbers are very elevated and he has been put on a liver prescription diet. The numbers still seemed same after 2 months so the doctor is now recommending an ultrasound. I will do that but don’t want to do any further invasive testing as he is super traumatized at the vets. It is so hard.

  30. KLC says:

    My 5 year old spaniel mix Ratiki (a rescue 3 years ago) recently had his gallbladder removed secondary to hypotyroidism. He is one month post surgery and doing amazingly well. His liver values have not completely normalized but are steadily improving on his new diet of Canidae Platinum (he thrived on Beef&Fish before). He loves the fact that he gets significantly more volume on Platinum inorder to meet his allowed calories per day.