chronic liver failure in dogs
Chronic liver failure also known as chronic liver disease or hepatic insufficiency is a condition characterized by a progressive and long-term decline in liver function in dogs. This occurs when the liver is unable to adequately perform its normal metabolic and detoxification processes. There are various causes and contributing factors to chronic liver failure in dogs, including:
- Chronic hepatitis: Persistent inflammation of the liver due to infectious, immune-mediated, or toxic causes can lead to chronic liver disease.
- Cirrhosis: Irreversible scarring of liver tissue often resulting from long-standing liver disease or chronic inflammation that can impair liver function.
- Portosystemic shunt: Abnormal blood vessels that divert blood flow around the liver, preventing proper filtration and detoxification which can lead to chronic liver disease.
- Toxins: Ingestion of certain drugs, plants or toxins can cause liver damage over time.
- Infection: Bacterial or viral infections can cause chronic inflammation and liver damage.
- Inherited Disorders: Some dog breeds may be predisposed to certain inherited liver diseases such as copper-associated hepatopathy in Bedlington terriers.
Signs and symptoms of chronic liver failure in dogs can vary depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the liver damage. Common clinical signs include:
- weight loss and muscle wasting
- poor appetite and nausea
- vomiting and diarrhea
- increased thirst and urination
- yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- ascites (abdominal fluid accumulation)
- lethargy and weakness
- behavioural changes and neurologic signs (due to impaired liver function)
If you suspect that your dog may have chronic liver failure it is important to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. Diagnostic tests such as blood work, imaging (ultrasound, X-ray) and liver biopsy may be necessary to assess liver function and identify the underlying cause. Treatment options for chronic liver failure in dogs usually include addressing the underlying cause, managing symptoms and supporting liver function. This may include medications, dietary modification and possible surgical intervention in some cases.