Preventing liver disease in dogs
The job of a liver is to metabolize the different foods we ingest. Since dogs have a bit of a history for eating things they shouldn’t or things that aren’t actually food, it makes it important that they have a liver that functions well at all times. Educating yourself on this condition is the best way to help prevent liver disease in dogs.
The term liver disease is a generic term that is used to describe many different conditions that can affect the liver. Because of its multiple jobs, there are multiple things that can go wrong with it. Some of these tasks the liver takes on are:
• Metabolizing amino acids, producing proteins
• Metabolizing carbohydrates and lipids (fat)
• Filtering out harmful compounds
• Detoxifying poisons and wastes
• Storing nutrients and needed energy
These are only a few of the hundreds of jobs that a liver does, so you can see why its health is important. The best thing you can do for your dog is to learn how to prevent liver disease from affecting them.
The best defense is education. Learn about the signs and symptoms that are associated with liver disease, so if you find your pooch is sick, you can take early action preventing the worsening of the condition. Some of the most common symptoms are:
• Breathing that is labored
• Soft, grayish feces
The vast number of functions the liver does makes it difficult to pinpoint that there is a problem with it, and it can often be mistaken for other problems.
Food for Liver
Take it easy on your dog’s digestive system. Putting too much strain on the organ may cause it to malfunction and your dog already likes to put its own liver through the ringer at times. Feed your dog a proper diet with the right amount of nutrients and vitamins. Dog foods that are easily digestible have an easier time being processed by the liver.
Many dog foods are packed with preservatives and additives that are not easy to digest. By choosing a natural dog food or a homemade dog food recipe, you’ll be able to bypass all the harmful ingredients that some manufacturers can put in food, which can help prevent liver disease in dogs.
Creature of Habit
Your dog is a creature of habit, and their bathroom times are too. Spend a bit of time becoming aware of their bathroom break times. Any change in a routine might signal that there are underlying problems. As well, take notice of their eating habits, as change can be a signal that you should look a little deeper.
Brush and Floss
You might not immediately see the link between oral hygiene and overall health, but millions of bacteria reside in a dog’s mouth and these bacteria can make their way into your dog’s system. By having a good oral hygiene routine, you can minimize the possibility that they will contract liver disease. Plus, you won’t gag the next time they lick your face.
Any medication that is taken is metabolized by the liver. Large amounts of medication will put strain on the liver and may damage it. Never administer any medication without the direction of a vet, and make sure that they take the amount of medication needed and not more.
If you are concerned that your dog may be unwell, take their temperature. If it has risen above 103 degrees, there may be a cause for concern. If so, look for other symptoms that are related to liver disease.
Regular check-ups at your vet reduce the likelihood of contracting any disease and improve the diagnosis time. Blood samples, urine samples and stool samples can be taken and analyzed to check for a variety of diseases that can commonly affect your dog.
Pesticides, standing water and poisonous plants can pose a risk. If you know any of these are present in the area, don’t let your dog roam unattended or unleashed.
Although it may be hard to diagnose and get a lock on liver disease, it’s well worth it to get the facts and find out what the risks are.
Chris Onyett is a designer and a passionate writer on promoting dog health. He created the Dog Help Network after an experience with his own dog, Kupo. He learned that doing proper research and learning from others’ experiences can be just as important as taking a veterinarian’s advice. Connect with Chris on Google+.