Dogs – Liver Problems

The liver is an important organ for your dog. It helps with digestion and blood clotting, and it removes toxins from their system. If it’s not working correctly, it can make your dog sick, however liver disease can often be treated and managed.


It’s easy to miss the symptoms of liver disease. They’re similar to those for other problems.

Your dog’s symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Increase thirst
  • An unstable walk
  • Increased need to pee
  • Confusion
  • Yellowish eyes, tongue, or gums
  • Signs of weakness
  • Blood in the pee or poop
  • Seizures
  • Ascites (a build-up of fluid in the belly)

If your dog’s liver disease isn’t caught early, it can lead to a serious brain condition called hepatic encephalopathy.

What causes liver problems?

Sometimes liver disease can happen as a result of aging. Sometimes it’s genetic, but it can also be brought on by infection or trauma to the area. Some diseases and medications can hurt your dog’s liver.

Other causes of liver disease may include:

  • Some plants and herbs such as ragwort, certain mushrooms, and blue-green algae
  • Molds that grown on corn
  • Untreated heartworms
  • Diabetes
  • Issues with the pancreas
  • Long-term use of painkillers
  • Fatty foods

If your dog has some symptoms of liver problem, your vet may ask you about the diet and medications. The vet may want to do blood tests and x-rays or an ultrasound to get a picture of what is going on with your dog’s liver. They may also want to take a biopsy to remove a small tissue sample for testing.


Your dog’s treatment will depend on how soon you catch the problem and what caused it. A vet will need to see how much damage there is to the liver.

  • Diet Changes often help. You dog may need a special diet to make sure your dog is getting all the nutrients and calories needed to help the dogs liver.
  • Medications may help control liver problems. You may also need to change your dog’s other medication or reduce how much your dog currently takes.
  • Surgery may be an option for dogs with tumors or cysts.

Work closely with your vet to manage the disease and avoid liver failure.


You can help your dog avoid getting liver disease. Take your dog to the vet for their annual health check and vaccinations. Make sure your vet is aware of all drugs and supplements your dog takes. Be mindful of what you feed your dog. Fatty foods can hurt the dogs liver, and don’t let your dog roam free in areas where there may be poisonous plants or insects.