Liver Disease in Dogs (Liver Problems in Dogs)

liver disease in dogs

A dog’s liver is an essential organ of its body, which helps him with digestion and removes toxins from the body. Other functions performed by the liver are the conversion of nutrients, storage of vitamins, and minerals.

Liver Problem in Dogs (Liver Disease in Dogs):

The Liver disease can be defined as any deformity in the liver that restricts it from functioning correctly. The abnormal functioning of the liver has rapid and widespread effects. As the liver works to eliminate the toxins from the body, it is prone to damage from many different sources. There are various types of liver diseases found, which may result in inflammation known as hepatitis. Bile duct obstacle occurs when the tubes get blocked that carries bile from the liver to the gallbladder. Liver shunt occurs when the stomach, intestine, pancreas prevents the blood from being properly detoxified. All these liver diseases can be managed and treated effectively after proper nutrition and diagnosis.

Symptoms of Liver Disease in Dogs:

Many liver diseases can cause minor to specific symptoms in dogs. However, the symptoms cannot be seen till the disease is progressing; therefore regular medical examinations are essential. Liver disease symptoms are similar to those for other problems. The following symptoms are in addition-

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Behavioral changes
  • Excessive drooling
  • Excessive peeing
  • Sign of weakness
  • Yellowish eyes or tongue (jaundice)

Causes of Liver Problems in Dogs-

  • Several diseases are connected with the age factors, which also includes liver dysfunction, which is a common problem found in old aged or geriatric dogs.
  • The second factor includes breed specification; in other words dog breeds such as Dobermans, Rottweiler, Yorkshire terrier, and cocker spaniels are more likely to develop liver diseases. 
  • Acute liver disease can occur after exposure to the toxic substance or from exposure to excessive heat.
  • Some toxins even cause’ organ failure, which leads to liver damage.
  • Some chemicals and medications can also damage the dog’s liver.
  • Chronic liver problems can be caused by bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections.

Treatment of Liver Diseases-

If the dog is diagnosed with liver disease, the owner may wonder about how to take care of the dog at home. Treatment of liver problems is to eradicate or minimize functions that deal with the metabolism of fat, proteins, and carbohydrates. It is essential to feed the dog with the right food.

After consulting the vet, medication and supplements can help the dog with minimal symptoms of liver problems. If the disease seems to be more dangerous, then the only option left is surgery. Be sure to comply with the vet’s recommendation for medicines, diet, and follow-up testing’s an examination.

Homemade Dog Food for Liver Disease:

If your dog is diagnosed with liver disease,firstly and most important includes visiting the vet and following guidance provided by the vet. It is also essential to feed the dog with a proper diet, which will help the dog to fight against the disease. The two significant things that will help to cure the disease-

  1. Proper medical care
  2. A liver friendly dog diet

Homemade dog food that is also liver friendly will assure the freshness and quality ingredients, and one can have complete control over what goes into the dog’s stomach.

Following are some homemade dog’s liver-friendly recipes-

  1. Eggs and chicken mash- this recipe provides the dog with quality protein that can be digested easily. The food also includes fiber and carbohydrates, which is an excellent mixture of beneficial nutrients. 


  • One boiled egg
  • Half cup of oatmeal
  • A three-fourth cup of low-fat cottage cheese
  • Half cup of cooked chicken
  • Half cup of pureed or canned pumpkin


  • Bake, boil or cook the chicken and chop it in cubes.
  • Dice the boiled egg into smaller pieces.
  • Cook the oatmeal well.
  • Mix all the ingredients with pumpkin in a bowl.
  • Allow the mixture to cool and serve subsequently.

2. Cake- the dish contains veggies that provide fibers, and other essential nutrients.


  • One cup of mixed vegetables.
  • Six tablespoons of salt-free chicken broth.
  • Two and a half cups of whole wheat flour.
  • One and a half cups of cold water.


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook all the vegetables and mash them.
  • Add chicken broth and wheat flour to the veggie mix.
  • Flatten the dough and cut into smaller pieces.
  • Lay the portions in a baking tray.
  • Put in the oven and bake it for 25 minutes.
  • Cool the cake and after that serve it.

Dog Liver Disease Diet:

3. Pasta salad- the simple meal quality ingredients and is easy to digest.


  • Half a package of pasta.
  • Two hard-boiled eggs.
  • One cup of brown rice.
  • Half cup of frozen broccoli.
  • Half cup of frozen carrots.


  • Cook well the pasta, brown rice, and vegetables.
  • Chop or mash the eggs and add them to a bowl.
  • Put the rest of the ingredients in the bowl and mix.
  • Bring the meal to room temperature during serving.

4. Liver boosting meal- the ingredients used in this recipe increase the liver functioning and regenerate it.


  • One pound of boneless chicken thighs.
  • One red bell pepper.
  • Five cups of water.
  • Two cups of white rice.
  • One Brazil nut.
  • Two and a half teaspoon of eggshells.
  • Three tablespoons of sunflower seed oil.
  • Two cups of low cottage cheese.


  • Chop the chicken into tiny cubes.
  • Slice bell pepper and remove the seeds.
  • Add chicken, bell pepper and rice into boiling water, allow it to cook on low flame.
  • Blend the egg shell, sunflower seed oil into fine paste.
  • Add the mixture into cooked rice, chicken, and bell pepper.
  • Meanwhile, add cheese and serve the mixture.

Enlarged liver in dogs:

An enlarged liver is commonly found in older dogs; there are several diseases that can affect the functioning of the liver in dogs and may lead to enlargement of the liver. When Ascites accompany the dog abdomen, the dog probably displays swollen belly.

Symptoms of Enlarged Liver-

  • Swollen belly
  • Visible mass in abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Behavioral changes
  • Excessive urination
  • Loss of appetite

Causes of the Enlarged Liver in Dogs-

  • Cyst of the liver
  • Infection in the liver
  • Heart disease or failure
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Pancreatic tumor
  • Liver Neoplasia
  • Chronic disease in the liver

Treatment of Enlarged Liver-

Liver enlargement in dogs can be caused due to various reasons, so the treatment varies widely. The primary procedure and prevention will be taken to avoid complications. In the case of heart disease, the dog may have to hospitalize for surgery. In the case of the cyst, also surgery will be needed to remove the affected mass. Many other treatments include dehydration therapy, anti-biotic, and regular dosage of multivitamins for better recovery.

Liver Cancer in Dogs:

The common type of liver cancer found in dogs is hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer grows on stem cells in the liver. In some dogs, the liver can be identified as a palpable mass in the dog’s stomach. Some tumors are non-symptomatic, which eventually causes severe abdominal bleeding. This slow-developing liver, if left untreated, it will lead to cell death of the liver. Many tumors are treatable with surgery, though it depends on the type and location of cancer. Liver cancer mostly affects older dogs who are between 10 to 12 years.

Signs of liver Cancer in Dogs:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Abdominal distention
  • Jaundice
  • Ulcer
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding

Types of Liver Cancer-


The disease creates a single mass and grows large; sometimes, there is a large mass and several smaller ones in different parts of the liver. This tumor is easy to remove due to its distinct growth.


Cancer forms smaller masses situated on one or more lobes of the liver; the cancer is more likely to dribble and spread than massive cancer.


This tumor is painful to remove as it involves more cancer cells, which cannot be differentiated with healthy cells.

Hepatocellular adenoma-

This cancer is the pure form of hepatocellular carcinoma, but large tumors can become a problem if they rupture and bleed or if they put pressure on other abdominal organs.

What Causes Liver Cancer in Dogs?

There is no specific cause known for liver cancer in dogs, and there is no breed propensity for liver cancer. Although the dogs affected are, on average, are older than ten years. The dogs who have a history of liver damage or chronic inflammation have a higher risk of developing cancer. Some studies have found more tendency for liver cancer among male dogs.

Liver Shunts in Dogs:

A liver shunt is commonly referred to as congenital Portosystemic and is a problem found in the blood vessels which runs into the liver. Similarly, the blood vessels transport the blood through the liver so that the filtered blood can remove toxins and wastes from the body and also absorbing nutrients from the food. If the blood vessels omit the liver, this leaves the toxin and debris inside the body, and the nutrients are not adequately absorbed. Some dogs have an intrahepatic shunt, which is inside the liver while some have an extrahepatic shunt, which is outside the liver.

Signs of Liver Shunts in Dogs-

  • Stumbling and ataxia
  • Circling
  • Seizures
  • Head pressing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excess thirst

The dog suffering from Extrahepatic can be treated with surgery. However, the dogs suffering from Intrahepatic or multiple shunts need proper medication and diet in conclusion to manage the symptoms of shunts. The food should be low in protein as dogs with liver shunts will not metabolize it well. 

Also read about how to deal with cats?