There are a wide range of causes of liver disease in dogs. The most common causes are:
Viral Infection- Most common in unvaccinated puppies
Toxins-Insecticides and arsenic
Drugs-NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) used to treat arthritis
Early symptoms of liver disease include: weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst. In most cases, if the underlying cause of the liver damage is found and treated during this early stage, then the liver will heal and return to normal function.
Symptoms of liver failure include: icterus (yellowing of the eyes or gums), ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen), spontaneous bleeding, and neurologic symptoms (disorientation, head-pressing, dullness, and seizures). Once the liver has advanced to the stage of liver failure, the chances of regaining liver function are very slim. However, many dogs can survive with chronic treatment, such as IV fluids, medications, and a special diet.
The most important factor in liver disease is to prevent the underlying causes by having your puppy properly vaccinated, keeping your pet away from potential toxins, and using therapeutic drugs according to your veterinarian’s instructions. Additionally, if you suspect that your pet has been exposed to toxins or has overdosed on NSAIDS, it is important to seek treatment as early as possible.