Sunday, 26 May 2024


3 May 2021

One of the most common ailments in dogs is liver disease. This problem affects both young and older animals. The liver is an organ that performs vital functions in the dog's body: it processes and stores metabolic products, is responsible for blood circulation, detoxifies the body and regulates water balance.


A dog whose liver shows abnormalities must undergo appropriate treatment. The sooner it is started, the better the chance of your dog returning to a normal life. The clinical signs associated with liver disease can be difficult to diagnose, so we learn about the disease too late.


The most common symptoms of liver disease are lethargy, clumsiness and uncoordinated movements, breathing problems, apathy and cramps. On the other hand, health-related symptoms are mainly: diarrhea and dark-colored stools, yellowish or bleeding gums. Noticing any of the mentioned symptoms, you should go to the veterinarian as soon as possible. It's worth to inform the doctor about all aspects that can contribute to quick diagnosis. In the case of liver disease, time and an appropriate pharmacological process are crucial. There are some dog breeds that are more prone to liver disease. These types of breeds include Yorkshire terriers and Terriers, for example. Older dogs are also more prone to liver-related diseases.

Among the most common liver diseases in dogs are:

  • Rubarth's disease,
  • leptospirosis,
  • cirrhosis and poisoning

Rubarth's disease is incurable, and treatment primarily involves defensive measures and providing medication to your pet to alleviate the symptoms of this disease. To guard against this disease, the only method is to vaccinate early. Interestingly, this disease usually affects young individuals, which are between five and seven months of age. The course of the disease is very intense, its main symptoms are, in turn, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever.

symptoms of a diseased liver in a dog

Leptospirosis, in turn, is a curable disease, so it is the opposite of Rubarth. Early detection significantly increases the animal's chances of survival. However, when the disease is already advanced, transfusions are necessary. The main symptoms of the disease are: diarrhea, yellowed eyeballs and a general poor physical appearance of the dog.

Also dangerous is acute hepatitis, which if untreated can lead to the death of the animal. Treatment usually involves the administration of antibiotics and a temporary quarantine. As for the symptoms, they are similar to other liver diseases.


Among the most serious liver problems in the dog are mainly chronic hepatitis. A sick animal cannot be completely cured, so the owner's role comes down to making the animal more comfortable living with the disease. Proper treatment can make the dog live a minimum of several more years. However, such a dog should be permanently on a strict diet. On the other hand, portal cirrhosis of the liver is a disease typical of puppy age. In its case, rapid treatment should be undertaken, because it can lead to the death of the animal.

The thoughtlessness of owners can also lead to cirrhosis in the dog. This usually results from administering drugs that are intended for humans. This behavior is reprehensible and may even lead to the death of the animal, especially since cirrhosis may not give any symptoms for a long time.

The most serious and incurable liver disease in dogs is liver cancer. It mainly affects older dogs, but some breeds of dogs may be more susceptible to cancer. Therefore, it is worth taking appropriate preventive measures and having your pet regularly examined in order to quickly detect any tumours.


A dog suffering from liver dysfunction, requires special care and attention from the owners. The basis for this is, above all, a proper diet and strict adherence to its principles. Some products in such a case may even be lethal for the animal. Sick dog's diet must be easy to digest and limit fat intake to a minimum. It is forbidden to feed highly processed substances which contain artificial colourings. Sweets and large amounts of carbohydrates are also unadvisable.