Supportive Medication for Liver Problems in Dogs

By Tess Thompson

It might be pertinent to mention at the start that there is no specific medication available for liver disease in dogs and cats. In most cases, medication only plays a supportive role and is prescribed according to the symptoms that are present. Various symptomatic treatments are used to manage the challenge thrown by different liver problems in cats and dogs.

  • Corticosteroids: These are primarily used for reducing inflammation. They also provide a sense of well being. Corticosteroids must be given under the strict instructions of a veterinarian because overuse of this class of drugs actually causes liver disease. Any negligence of the part of the owner may aggravate the condition rather than curing it.
  • Penicillamine and zinc acetate: To reduce the amount of copper in the liver. Certain breeds have a typical problem brought about by the inefficiency of their liver to eliminate copper, which leads to excessive accumulation of copper in the liver.
  • Antibiotics: For treating liver infection or managing risk of secondary infections.
  • Sucralfate and Cimetidine: These are indicated where symptoms like nausea and vomiting are shown by the dog. These are also used to prevent secretion of stomach acids that may cause ulcers.
  • Diuretics: To decrease the accumulation of serous fluid in the peritoneal cavity. A bloated stomach is a common symptom of liver disease, a condition known as ascites. If ascites is not treated it can cause difficulty in breathing by pressurizing the diaphragm.
  • Intravenous or sub-cutaneous fluids: To compensate loss of water due to excessive urination, preventing dehydration and providing sufficient nutrition.

It is a typical situation when in comes to the drug treatment for liver problems in dogs and cats. The liver has to metabolize medications and if it is not functioning properly, it may require lower doses so that the medicine remains in the body for a longer period. Another challenge is added when liver disease is accompanied by other diseases like pancreas diseases in dogs and cats that spread to the liver.

No liver medication can be complete without proper dietary management. Liver problems are a direct result of the body demanding more work from the organ than it is structured to handle. Ingestion of foods that are rejected or unsuited for the dog's body should be avoided. Dogs require a properly balanced diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fats with a moderate quantity of high-quality proteins.

In some cases there may be a need for a breed specific diet. For example, some breeds have a hard time metabolizing copper such as terriers and Dobermans. These breeds should especially be kept on a diet low in copper. That means restricting most commercial pet foods since they tend to have high levels of copper. Many types of liver diseases are not curable and a good management of the condition with supportive care, symptomatic treatment, and change in diet can allow the animal to live a comfortable life.



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