The liver is the biggest internal organ of any mammal. It is a multifunctional organ that is involved in the metabolism and production of vital chemicals. Because it is the first organ after the stomach to receive ingested drugs and plays a role in metabolism, it is particularly vulnerable to harm from ingested toxins and their toxic metabolites.
Veterinarians Tammy Hunter and Robin Downing said in their article “Nutrition for Dogs with Liver Disease,” the liver is the second biggest organ in the body and conducts roughly 1500 vital biomechanical activities. The liver metabolizes drugs, eliminates toxins from the body, and produces vital chemicals such as albumin and blood clotting factors. The liver plays an active role in nutrition by acting as an intermediate between protein, carbohydrate, and fat digestion.”
The My Pet Nutritionist (MPN) team refers to the liver as the “powerhouse internal organ” in their article “Ultimate Natural Guide for Pets: Liver Disease” because it regulates, processes, and filters pretty much everything in the body.
It is said to be a very intelligent and perceptive organ that can regenerate liver cells even if a piece of the liver is removed during surgery. It is a magnificent organ, and your pet’s health is dependent on it working properly.
What causes liver problems?
Many liver-damaging environmental contaminants are routinely found in our food, air, and water. Furthermore, because many pet food firms use tainted ingredients from other countries, a significant amount of dog food is polluted with aflatoxins, heavy metals, fluoride, pesticides, and other environmental contaminants. Many of these items have been “condemned for human use,” including meat from rendering facilities that are unfit for human consumption.
Veterinarians are also prescribing more monthly flea and tick preventative chemicals than ever before (owing in part to the increasing prevalence of Lyme and other tick-borne infections), as well as heartworm drugs, NSAIDS, phenobarbital, steroids, and antibiotics. The liver is responsible for detoxifying all of these substances.
MPN provides us with some of the elements that may induce liver problems in our canine friends:
The most important factor is poor nutrition/diet. It can cause genetic damage and place a significant burden on the liver. Diet may not be exclusively to blame for the genesis of this illness, but it does play a part in therapy and support.
Most narrow-minded people dismiss this aspect, but stress is an important role in the pathogenesis of liver disease. In every illness, trying to control the stress response is usually beneficial.
Poisoning can cause liver damage through a variety of routes. Hepatotoxic substances or compounds that are metabolized to hepatotoxic chemicals are present in several substances. The mechanism of liver toxicosis is uncertain in some situations.
A clear example is copper toxicity. Copper-associated hepatitis is a condition in which copper accumulates inside hepatocytes and becomes toxic, resulting in liver damage. This might be due to a poor zinc diet or genetics that interfere with copper detoxification and zinc assimilation and absorption.
Pharmaceuticals can be a source of liver problems. Overuse or poor tolerance of phenobarbital, NSAIDs, paracetamol, and other medicines may be linked to liver damage.
According to Nicola Bates’ article “Poisons Affecting the Liver” on the UK-Vet the Veterinary Nurse website, Xylitol has been identified as a cause of liver failure, although the mechanism of liver damage remains unexplained. It might be due to prolonged adenosine triphosphate (ATP) depletion from xylitol metabolism, resulting in cellular necrosis or the generation of reactive oxygen species that damage cell membranes and macromolecules (as he referenced Dunayer and Gwaltney-Brant’s 2006 scholarly work). In addition to liver damage, xylitol induces hypoglycemia in dogs because it is a significant activator of insulin release, which results in a reduction in blood glucose.
Supportive fluid treatment may be necessary, especially if the dog is not eating or drinking or requires rehydration after vomiting. Electrolyte supplementation may be necessary, which can be either orally or intravenously, depending on the clinical status of the dog and the degree of biochemical abnormalities. If feeding is not working or the dog is symptomatic, the hypoglycemia should be addressed with an intravenous dextrose infusion.
Paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen or APAP in some countries) is a non-narcotic painkiller that is widely accessible. It is used to treat humans but NOT dogs, cats or ferrets. But it may still cause liver problems with an overdose (even in humans).
In the liver, paracetamol is metabolized by three pathways: glucuronidation, sulphation, and oxidation. The glucuronide and sulphate routes produce harmless chemicals that are eliminated in bile and urine. The oxidation process is modest in most species, while glucuronidation is the main mechanism of paracetamol metabolism. Due to low quantities of glucuronyl transferase, the enzyme that catalyzes the last stage of the glucuronidation pathway, cats and ferrets have a limited ability to conjugate with glucuronic acid (as Bates cites Court’s scholarly article in 2001).
As a result, these species have a restricted capacity to convert paracetamol to non-toxic metabolites and are considered poisonous.
Endocrine problems are a difficult challenge to overcome, says MPN. Diabetes mellitus, hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), and hyperthyroidism are all disorders that can cause compromised liver function.
Infectious agents (leptospirosis or viral) provide an equal challenge. Sometimes veterinarians will remark that the origin of liver illness is unknown, although testing for a viral infection can sometimes imply liver damage. Working with the immune system and maintaining liver function is critical for veterinarians working with MPN in these circumstances. Infections that affect the liver include bacterial, fungal, and parasitic disorders.
Your dog may have been engaged in a horrific accident involving the liver. Because severe trauma may be harmful, according to MPN. It is critical to understand the trauma when treating such cases.
How do veterinarians diagnose and treat liver problems?
According to MPN, a number of blood tests may be performed to identify and diagnose liver disease. If something is wrong, blood testing of liver enzymes may usually detect it. X-rays and ultrasonography can assist your veterinarian in identifying liver size, abnormalities, damage, gallstones, and gallbladder illnesses.
Abdominal surgery is the standard therapy for extrahepatic portosystemic shunts (PSS).
Regardless of the kind of liver illness, a low-fat, low-protein diet is frequently suggested. Some differ in salt level, while others may contain additional zinc to combat copper toxicity, but they are all designed to avoid overburdening the liver with fat or protein metabolism.
Based on their expertise, MPN suggested using a correctly prepared fresh feed to lengthen survival periods and improve quality of life in dogs with liver illness. They do not advocate dry food for anyone with liver illness. In individuals with liver diseases, fats are typically the most important factor. They preferably base their formulae on lean proteins, healthy veggies, superfoods, and the like.
About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist. She has been a solo parent for 16 years now because she is wife to a desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.