The prognosis for dog liver disease depends on various factors

Prognosis of liver disease primarily depends upon the following factors:

* The type of liver disease – hepatitis, cancer, liver shunt, drug induced or others.
* Primary or secondary – whether the disease originated in the liver or the liver is affected as a fall out of disease elsewhere in the body.
* The time factor – the stage to which the disease has advanced at the time of detection.

A close look at different types of liver diseases is necessary to understand the prognosis of each type.

* Chronic progressive hepatitis, inflammation of the liver, may be immune mediated or idiopathic (arising from unknown reasons). It is common in Terrier breeds due to their inherent inability to expel copper from their body. Some other reasons that may cause hepatitis include virus and drug induced inflammations.
* Acute hepatitis, on the other hand, is mostly caused by accumulation of toxins, which may be ingested or due to some internal inability to process toxicity. Many times acute hepatitis is caused by bacteria like Leptospira, Salmonella. Aflatoxin, bacterial endotoxin and blue green algae are potent toxins, some of which may be broken down and released inside the body after they are ingested. Acute hepatitis may also occur due to trauma, acute inflammation of the pancreas, and hemolytic anemia or oxygen deficiency due to surgical intervention.
* Cirrhosis is the last stage of inflammatory liver diseases. In majority of the cases the cause of cirrhosis remains undetermined.
* Internal as well as administered corticosteroids are one of the major reasons behind liver disease in dogs as the canine liver, due to some reason or the other, is more sensitive to them.
* The liver is also a favorite site for primary as well as metastatic tumors.
* Liver shunt is a genetic disorder, which may also be acquired in certain cases, where the blood bypasses the liver and enters the blood stream without filtration.

When diagnosed early, the prognosis for treatment of liver disease can be very good. However, quite a few numbers of diseases are confused with liver diseases, making it difficult to diagnose canine and feline liver disease. Symptoms of liver disease in dogs and cats imitate other conditions and so do the pathological results.

For example, liver enzyme levels increase during pancreatitis, diabetes mellitus and hyperthyroidism and also in the case of a liver disease. Similarly, levels of bilirubin, an important indication of liver disorders, increase even during non-hepatic conditions like a sustained loss of appetite, destructive metabolism and infection. Late detection can lead to liver failure unless aggressive treatment is used.

Acute conditions present a good prognosis and the liver’s regenerative capacity can be boosted by modifying diet and looking for alternatives to drugs that cause them.

Care has also to be taken that the pet is not exposed to external toxins so as not to ingest them. 95% of the cases of liver shunt are cured successfully with the aid of replacement surgery. Chances of recovery of the liver from secondary diseases depend largely upon the prognosis of the primarily affected organ.

Idiopathic and immune mediated liver diseases present a fair to poor prognosis. They require constant monitoring in conjunction with dietary changes and steps to boost the immune system. Primary or secondary liver cancer, on the hand, has a very poor prognosis and much depends upon the extent to which the liver has been affected by the malignancy.

2 thoughts on “The prognosis for dog liver disease depends on various factors

  1. Diana Bailey

    My name is Diana. My best friend is named Ronan. We met over nine years ago when he was a little worm infested puppy.
    I needed someone to love and he needed someone to love him. It was a perfect match.
    Thru the years he has been there for me thru the very very hard times and thru the few and far between good times. Although, I have to say; all the bad times never seemed as bad then with him there for me to keep pushing on.
    February 1st 2015 he was diagnosised with diabetes. He was hospitalized for several days with aketoacidosis diabetes and was very sick.
    The next several months were challenging. More for him then for me. He could not have some of the things he loved…pineapple. Weird a dog would love pineapple. He had to learn to not fight me when he had to get his glucose checked twice daily, and he had to learn to eat 12 hours apart.
    It was also very hard for me to learn to say no. I love him and when he would looked up at me after I got done eating a bowl of cereal with those beagle eyes of his, Wow makes you feel like a total meanie because instead of me giving him the left over sugary milk ( another of his favorites), I had to learn to say no.
    So over those first few months after getting his diagnosis we learned to redo a lot of things. Surely but steadily his diabetes stabilized and we relearned how to live with it.
    Two years later to the day, we go in for extensive tests for Cushings and discover he has liver cancer. Primary adenocarcinoma most likely billary.
    I have read a lot over the last day about the disease and think instead of putting him thru the pain of more testing that we will just let nature take it’s course. God, that is so hard for me to say. I can’t believe I just said that. So I have decided to try to prolong his life in other ways if possible since surgery will only cause undue pain for only an extra couple months.
    I have already ordered milk thistle, salmon omega 3 oil and sardine, anchovy, herring omega 3 oil and another immunity booster for which I will have all of these things okayed by his vet before I give them to him.
    He is already on a high protein diet, low to no carb. All his meals are made in my kitchen, meaning none of it comes from a can or a bag. I cook all day on Saturday for him meals thru out the week. He gets salmon, chicken, lamb, turkey, trout, some beef, chicken livers, carrots, green beans, cranberries ( sometimes) and a homemade gravy for mixing.
    What I would like to know is what can I do to make him as comfortable as possible? What else can I do to extend his viable life. He is still himself. I would never had known he was this ill if we had not had his quarterly blood work done.
    Also is there any resource reading I can look for? I will make the necessary hard decisions when the time comes but no sooner. I cannot imagine my life without my Ro-Ro.

    1. tania Post author

      Hi Diana
      I’m sorry to hear about Ronan.

      Here are some supportive measures to improve or maintain his quality of life:
      1. Get him on a cancer diet that is low in carbs, and moderate high quality protein and fat (omega 3 fatty acids).
      2. Immune boosting and other supplements: To support immune function and cellular health.
      3. Reduce indoor and outdoor exposure to pollutants such as secondhand smoke, cleaning chemicals (carpet, floor), pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers and weed killer.
      4. Minimise stress: It is well known stress undermines the immune system and is a trigger for diseases including cancer.
      5. Exercise: Physical activity is crucial for healthy mental state, digestive system, immune function, muscle tone and weight control. It is also a stress buster. Depending on his condition, you can take him for walks, play with him or let him romp in a park – any activity that he enjoys to stay active.

      Do try to keep a positive and happy outlook when you are around him. Dogs can sense human emotions. The emotional responses of dogs tend to reflect the moods of people around them. When you feel sad, stressed or anxious, so will your dog.

      I hope this helps.



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