Chronic Disease Management

Liver disease

Liver disease

Liver disease is one of the most challenging groups of conditions to treat and manage. The various conditions that can result in liver disease and damage include abnormal circulation, cancer, chronic hepatitis, and secondary damage from disease, drugs, or toxins.

Since the liver can regenerate and has a large functional reserve, damage to the liver must be fairly severe and advanced before any clinical signs are seen. This means that a dog or cat with liver disease may have suffered significant and longstanding metabolic imbalances before a diagnosis is made and a treatment plan created.

Obstruction of bile flow through the liver can lead to jaundice causing a yellow/orange tinge to the skin, mucous membranes, and whites of the eyes. Advanced liver disease can cause gastrointestinal toxins to bypass filtration by the liver resulting in that dulled mental ability. Advanced liver disease can also cause malnutrition through decreased appetite and abnormal nutrient digestion, absorption, and metabolism.

General medical treatment recommendations for dogs or cats with liver disease include targeting the underlying cause whenever possible, and treating the symptoms. Intravenous fluids in the hospital may be needed short-term to set the stage for longer term therapies. Medications used to treat liver disease are often needed long term, possibly for life.