Pet Care Tips: Ways to Recognize and Tackle a Liver Disease in Your Dog

Image source: Chen Mizrach from Unsplash 

As pets, dogs play an important role in every household. It is no secret that a dog in the home is a symbol of constant joy. After all, they become an additional family member, a friend to the kids, so taking care of them is very important.

Like humans, dogs can get sick. Throughout their lives, many develop liver conditions that may have suffered significant and longstanding metabolic imbalances before a diagnosis is made. Liver disease causes a variety of symptoms in your dog and no matter how it manifests them, you should know that is one of the most challenging groups of conditions to treat and manage.

Despite paying regular visits to the vet’s office, dietary treatment and homeopathic remedies play a crucial role in the management of liver diseases and can provide excellent liver support for dogs. A balanced diet reduces the load on the metabolism because it contains the right amount and variety of proteins, it adds antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, helps limit inflammation and adds nutrients that are essential for liver cell regeneration.

Dogs are very good at hiding pain, but if you think your dog has liver issues, there are some signs you can look out for. In the article below, we will look at ways to recognize liver disease in dogs by studying their behavior and appearance.

Changes in their behavior

Your dog may just not seem as happy and energetic as normal. It may lie around and refuse to go for walks or play with you. Here are some hints of behaviors that may indicate liver disease.

Odd behavioral signs

Your dog may just seem distant and not be able to connect with you as it usually does. It may behave strangely and act peculiarly. Liver disease can result in neurological symptoms that cause your dog to move and act in a disoriented manner. In later stages, your dog may wander aimlessly and exhibit a lack of coordination. This is caused by accumulated toxins that the liver failed to eliminate.


Did you know that your dog can be affected by depression too? It may be unable to express signs of happiness and excitement. You can notice that your furry friend seldomly wags its tails and seems to have lost enthusiasm in its movements. Even though behavioral changes such as irritability, lethargy, and depression can be due to chronic pain from other disorders, it also can be caused by liver disease.

Physical signs

If you look closely at your dog, you can actually see some of the signs of liver disease in its appearance. Here are some specific things to look for.


Jaundice may be the most well-known indication of liver disease. It makes your dog's skin, gums, and eyes look yellow. The yellow color can be very light or quite prominent.


Your dog may develop an enlarged abdomen, which can also be sore, as fluid accumulates inside. Do not mistake this for a full stomach or weight gain. Know how much your dog eats so that you can make an accurate comparison between a full stomach and an enlarged one.

Gastrointestinal symptoms

One of the most common indications of liver disease in dogs is gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms too can be mistaken for something else, but when paired with other symptoms of liver disease, these become clear indications of a problem.

Weight loss

Most dogs tend to gulp down the food as soon as they get the chance. If you notice that your dog refuses to eat, you have every reason to be concerned. While your dog turns away his nose and mouth to a meal once in a while, it’s not something to worry about. 

However, dogs that regularly refuse to eat can suffer from liver disease. Dogs that lose weight due to lack of appetite probably suffer from some kind of serious issue. Unfortunately, liver disease can often result in anorexia in dogs.

Excessive thirst and urination

Pay attention if your dog may not seem to be getting enough to drink. Your dog may drink a lot and still show an extreme urge for water. All this water must go somewhere, so your dog may also show excessive urination. If it has unexplained urination mishaps, a problem associated with increased water consumption, this may be an indication of liver disease.

Vomiting or diarrhea

A dog who has difficulty holding the food down and vomits on a regular basis might suffer from a liver condition. Failure to maintain a firm stool is also an indication of liver disease, especially when there is a strange odor associated with it.

Poisons that can affect the liver

An important thing to know is that a common cause of acute liver failure is poison. Some medications that your veterinarian prescribes for other conditions can also affect the liver. Your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog's blood levels to make sure a prescribed medicine is not causing too much damage to the liver. If any reduction or change in liver function is determined, they will make a decision to stop or change the medicine. 

If your dog does not have any medications that generally result in liver damage, it can be a little more challenging to determine what is causing the problem. Other things that can cause troubles include heavy metals, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides, cycad plants and amanita muscaria, aflatoxins produced by mold, or blue-green algae.

Diet as the best advise

Whatever liver disease your dog might be diagnosed with, the diet regimen is usually one of the most important ways to maintain and control your dog’s health. Refrain from feeding your dog fatty foods and make sure you introduce plenty of exercise and leisure. 

Keep all toxic substances locked up and out of your dog's reach. Add dietary supplements for a seasonal "cleaning" that guarantees optimal liver function, that will help protect and repair damaged liver cells, and yes, do continue with your routine wellness examinations. 

Final Thoughts

Dogs live a life similar to humans. Many eat too much and perhaps not always the healthiest foods. They might exercise too little, live in cities with pollution or in the countryside and risk getting in contact with dangerous substances. All of this can lead to various liver diseases. Although many symptoms can be confusing and similar to symptoms of other health disorders, in the text above we listed a few ways on how you can recognize a liver condition to help you deal more effectively and in due time.

About the Author: 

Sherryn De Vos is a huge animal lover and enjoys writing about these beautiful little creatures. She's a content writer at a food and health blog AvocadoPesto in her day job and devotes her time in supporting pet blogs whenever she gets the opportunity. She also works with animal shelters to provide better living conditions and possible future homes for pets. Currently she’s creating pets and animal-related content to address the animal and pet niche's right audience.

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