CANINE LIVER DISEASE WELLNESS AND SUPPORT PLAN
It is important to know that liver disease is not always fatal. In fact numerous dogs have responded well to conventional and alternative treatments, often to the surprise of their caregivers and veterinarians.
|Step 1: Get the Correct Diagnosis|
The first step in combating liver disease is to get a correct diagnosis. Knowing the exact type of liver disease may allow you to eliminate the underlying problem, as in the case of bacteriological infection. At a minimum, a correct diagnosis will give you a prognosis and the best method of treatment.
There are numerous blood and urine tests that will give clues to the cause of the problem, but a liver biopsy may be the best or only option to knowing the specific type and cause. The biopsy can be performed either with a needle guided by ultrasound through the body wall or with a full surgical procedure where the surgeon actually looks at the liver and removes a small piece.
|Step 2: Detoxify the liver|
Liver detoxification is beneficial for most types of liver disease, especially in the early acute stage or when fever is present. Fasting greatly reduces the liver's usual elimination load and allows the body to break down and expel older wastes that have accumulated in the liver and fatty tissue. Fasting is not appropriate for all types of liver disorders, so be sure to check with your veterinarian prior to starting any fast.
The highly respected veterinarian and author Dr. Richard Pitcairn, recommends a one to two day break-in period, feeding small light meals. The meals should include tofu, cottage cheese or a small amount of lean meat along with fresh vegetables that support liver function like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.
The break in period should be followed by a liquid fast that consists of plenty of fresh spring or filtered water, fresh pressed vegetable juices (not canned or bottled) or vegetable broth made from vegetables that support the liver.
After the fast you should feed your dog simple, light meals like those used for the break in period, for about two or three days. Then start to slowly introduce a natural liver support diet (as discussed below).
|Step 3: Dietary Adjustments|
A fresh, homemade diet is the very best option for a dog with liver problems. A liver condition requires specific dietary requirements that are difficult, if not impossible to find in commercial diets. A beneficial liver diet should:
There is no one-size-fits-all diet for liver disease and often finding the best diet for your dog will require trial and error. Our Essential Liver Function Kit includes lists of appropriate foods to try with your dog, along with recipes to put it all together.
- Be free of chemicals and preservatives that over tax the liver.
- Include sources of protein that do not produce high levels of ammonia during digestion. Examples are cottage cheese and tofu. Meat produces the highest levels of ammonia.
- Have fresh, unaltered nutrients from raw vegetables that support liver function. Examples are cabbage, Brussels sprouts and carrots. If raw vegetables are not tolerated, then lightly steam or boil them.
- Contain soluble and insoluble fiber to help absorb ammonia in the digestive tract.
- Dogs with copper storage disease need to be placed on a special diet low in copper.
|Step 4: Essential Supplements to Support Liver Function and Regeneration|
Liver disease is one condition where holistic and conventional practitioners concur - nutritional supplementation is the superior approach.
One of the most extensively researched supplements with documented benefits for liver support is Milk Thistle. It has been shown to help detoxify the liver, block the uptake of toxins and have many liver protective qualities. Milk Thistle is a must for any dog dealing with liver problems.
Dandelion extract is believed to enhance bile flow and help with hepatitis and jaundice. Dandelion/Milk Thistle puts these two powerful ingredients together to obtain maximum results.
Recent research points to the substance, SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) as being very beneficial to the liver in several ways. SAM-e raises glutathione levels, necessary for liver cell regeneration. It is also suggested that SAM-e helps with detoxification and reduces inflammation. This supplement is prescribed for liver disease through out much of Europe.
SAM-e is still a relatively pricey supplement, but its benefits appear to be worth it. (Important note: Tablets must not be crushed or split.)
Digestive enzymes are important for dogs with liver issues. Adding digestive enzymes can help reduce the load on the liver by breaking down fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Dr. Goodpet's Canine Digestive Enzymes are formulated especially to be effective on your dog's protein/carbohydrate mixed diet. Learn more about Dr. Goodpet's Canine Digestive Enzymes - click here.
To prevent deficiencies, a good multi-vitamin supplement is essential for dogs with compromised liver function. It is particularly important that the supplement be rich in B-vitamins (specifically B1 and B12), which add additional liver support.
Nupro is a whole food supplement made from fresh, raw ingredients for the highest digestibility and absorption. The scientifically balanced formula is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and essential fatty acids. In addition to a full spectrum of B vitamins, Nupro also contains vitamins C, E and K, which are recommended for liver support. Dogs love the taste too!
|Step 5: Lifestyle and Environmental Considerations|
When your dog is dealing with liver disease, it is important to make sure their environment supports the healing process. With the help of your ministrations, your dog's liver will be detoxifying and trying to regenerate, so it is important to keep the liver's load as light as possible. One way to help is by removing toxins from their environment. Here are some things to watch for:
Opt for natural solutions whenever possible. A good replacement for many household cleaners is white vinegar. It makes a good all purpose cleaner that can be used to mop floors or clean glass and other surfaces. Read the ingredients on shampoos and other products that will come into contact with your dog's body and choose products that are truly natural. Your dog will appreciate your efforts.
- Pesticides in flea and tick repellents
- Chemicals in dog (or human) shampoos
- Chemicals in deodorizing spays
- Lawn and garden chemicals and fertilizers
- Household pest chemicals
- Household cleaners
- Preservatives and additives in pet foods and treats
It is very important that your dog get lots of rest when dealing with this disease. If you have a particularly hectic household or if you have other pets, be sure to establish a sanctuary where your dog can go to be out of the noise and hustle.
Dogs have a unique capacity for finding their "space". You may notice that you often find your sick pet sleeping in some out of the way place like a closet or seldom used guest room. It is just up to you to make it more comfortable and inviting.
Put bedding in the area along with other articles they find reassuring like a toy or a blanket. Try to restrict access to the area by letting family members know their friend needs to rest when he goes to his place. You may also want to try placing a pheromone diffuser in the area. Many dogs find this reassuring and quieting.
Get the vital supplements plus the Liver Companion Guide in the Essential Liver Function Kit.
Liver disease is a complex condition that requires an accurate diagnosis before effectively implementing any recovery plan. Consult your veterinarian before starting any supplementation or dietary changes. As an example, some measures mentioned on these pages are not appropriate for copper storage liver disease.