Unfortunately, liver disease is a common occurrence in dogs. Your veterinarian will help you develop an evidence-based plan for symptom relief, which will likely include testing, medication, and diet. This article specifically discusses the diet changes you can make for your dog with liver disease.
What is liver disease in dogs?
The liver is an important organ in a dog’s body that acts as a cleansing system, removing toxins and waste, and producing bile for better digestion. When the dog’s liver is compromised, the buildup of toxins and waste can affect other organs and cause other dangerous health problems.
Causes of liver disease in dogs can be injuries, poor nutrition, aging, or genes. It can also be a result of infection or trauma to the area, other diseases affecting the liver, or even medication. Some breeds, like Doberman Pinschers and West Highland Terriers, have a higher risk of liver disease, according to studies.
If you suspect your dog may have liver disease, take him to your veterinarian right away. Early detection can be helpful in treating the problem and, thanks to the liver’s ability to regenerate itself, can also result in full recovery with proper medication and nutrition for dogs with liver disease.
Signs of liver disease in dogs
The following are the most common symptoms of liver disease in dogs.
* Increased urination
* Reduced Interest in food
Take your dog to the vet if you experience any of these symptoms.
Diet for dogs with liver disease
Because the causes of liver disease are different, the ways you can treat this problem may also be different. Developing a plan with your veterinarian is critical because of the causes of liver disease, but diet changes can certainly help your dog.
Diet changes of any kind should be made slowly. If you do it quickly, it can hurt your dog’s stomach and make him feel worse than before. Talk to your veterinarian to see how these changes can be applied.
Try to feed your dog several times a day, not just a meal or two. Stick to smaller meals and feed him 4-5 times a day to relieve his stomach and decrease the amount of food the liver needs to process.
Some holistic veterinarians may recommend avoiding commercial brands of dog foods altogether, as they often contain proteins, grains, and starches that can negatively affect the liver. There is currently no clear evidence of one type or the other, but certain brands of dog food may be better than others. However, if you want to give your dog a homemade dog food diet for liver disease, this article explains the nutritional guidelines.
Some people feed their dog’s raw foods. While raw feeding is still a controversial topic, it is clear that practicing safe raw food principles for the dog’s liver can be healthier and easier than many commercial dog food brands, especially the cheap non-prescription formulas.
Some nutrients are more important than others for dogs with liver disease and these should be taken into account when planning a diet for your dog.
Optimal protein intake depends on the stage and type of liver disease. Some types of the liver disease require protein gains, while other types or stages may require limits on protein. However, it is important for liver health that you feed your dog high-quality protein. In fact, it is a general recommendation to make sure that the protein you are giving your dog is high quality, but also to feed them in moderate amounts.
The best proteins for increased protein intake come from animal sources. You have the optimal amounts of amino acids that are good for your dog in general, especially for his digestive system. On the other hand, vegetable proteins such as grains lack these essential amino acids. In addition to animal protein, vets also recommend soy, dairy products, and eggs as sources of protein.
Some animal proteins are high in copper, which is not good for liver disease. These should be avoided, especially organ meats like liver. Also avoid salmon, pork, lamb, and duck as they are all high in copper and pair with chicken, turkey, beef, and white fish instead.
Fats and carbohydrates
Depending on the case, some dogs with liver disease can tolerate a higher fat content in their diet, while others should be kept on a moderate fat intake. Fat is really important for energy and calories, but since it is processed by the liver, it can cause suffering in dogs with liver disease. Hence, it is best to feed only easily digestible fats like coconut oil.
On the other hand, carbohydrates are important in all cases as they can aid your dog’s digestion as they are high in fiber. They also help remove ammonia from your dog’s system. Add white rice, oatmeal, or pasta to your dog.
Vitamin and minerals
It is important to include vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B complex, and minerals like zinc. Vitamin C is good for its antioxidant properties, just like vitamin E, and they are good for liver health. Among other things, they can lead to less inflammation in the liver.
Vitamin K can help blood clots and aid your dog’s body in dealing with the byproducts of altered liver metabolism. Zinc is good for binding copper and also has antioxidant properties that aid liver function.
Structuring Your Dog’s Liver Disease Diet
As mentioned earlier, before adding ingredients to your dog, check with your veterinarian and feed them at least four times a day.
Add safe dairy products like ricotta, cottage cheese, and yogurt to your dog’s diet. These foods aid digestion and also produce less ammonia than meat. Just make sure you stick to low-salt, low-fat dairy products, and remember that goat cheese is easier to digest than cow cheese.
Eggs are a great source of protein for your dog and should be included in your diet. Other sources of protein can include fish, as well as skinless and boneless turkey or chicken. These foods are high-quality proteins that are good for your dog’s liver.
Oatmeal is great for liver disease because it contains soluble fiber that can help remove ammonia from your dog’s system. This is good for the liver as it doesn’t need to be processed. Cooked white rice is also something to include in your diet for soluble fiber, as well as canned barley and pumpkin.
Add a little fish oil or salmon oil to your dog’s meals as these are high in omega-3 fatty acids and can reduce inflammation in the liver.
There is also the possibility that some fruits like watermelon, fig, and papaya can protect the liver. So try to include them in your dog’s diet. However, if you want to feed your dog’s watermelon, try to take out all of the seeds as these can cause an intestinal blockage. Also, don’t give your dog more than a few figs, as these can cause an upset stomach.
Coconut, and coconut oil, in particular, can be good for your dog’s liver. Coconut oil is especially good if your dog is having trouble absorbing fat. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to your dog every day and use virgin or unrefined coconut oil.
Food to avoid
Avoid foods rich in copper. Liver disease is sometimes associated with copper buildup. If this is the case with your dog, you should limit their copper intake. Most organ meats are high in copper and you should avoid beef liver in particular. Chicken and turkey livers are okay as they are low in copper. Also avoid lamb, duck, pork, and salmon.
If you are unable to prepare homemade dog food for your puppy, ask your veterinarian which prescription diet food is best for him or her.
Salt intake should be closely monitored as it can lead to liver disease, particularly the retention of extra fluids. If your dog has severe liver disease, consider a low-salt diet. This will prevent fluid from building up in his stomach.
Homemade dog food for liver disease
The best way to make sure your dog isn’t eating anything that can hurt their liver is to cook for them. There are many simple and easy recipes that you can make quickly. Try the below mentioned, and you can also try Samantha’s Liver Disease recipe.
Boiled chicken with cottage cheese
This homemade dog food recipe is good for dogs with liver disease because it contains a high-quality protein found in chicken, cheese, and eggs, but it’s also high in soluble fiber from oatmeal and pumpkin which also aid its digestion. It’s also a pretty simple recipe that only takes around 20 minutes to prepare.
- 3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup cooked chicken
- 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
- 1 boiled egg
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
The first thing to do is cook the chicken. You can use chicken breasts if you want to stick to lean, low-fat meats, but other portions of chicken meat are fine too. Just make sure it’s boneless and skinless. Cut the chicken into cubes and then bake, boil in a pan, or boil whatever you prefer.
Boil the oatmeal and cook the egg in advance. When your chicken is thoroughly cooked, just mix these ingredients together. Then add the cottage cheese and canned pumpkin and mix everything in a large bowl.
Once you mix it properly, this meal is ready to serve your dog. You can keep leftovers in your refrigerator for up to 4 days. If you are making a larger batch, you can also freeze it for up to 2 months.
Diet FAQs for Dogs with Liver Disease
If you don’t need all of the details in the information above, please refer to these FAQs to learn more about diet for a dog with liver disease.
What do you feed a dog with liver problems?
Try to focus on giving your dog liver problems with eggs, poultry, and small fish like cod, salmon, and sardines. Avoid red meat as it is high in phosphorus.
How can I help my dog with liver problems?
First, follow your veterinarian’s advice, including a diet for dogs with liver disease. You may also need to give your dog nutritional supplements. Your vet may suggest other treatments, including surgery.
What foods are good for elevated liver enzymes?
Coffee, vegetables, fish, oatmeal, walnuts, avocado, and tofu are good foods for elevated liver enzymes. When feeding your dog human food always make sure it is safe for dogs before doing so.
Which foods should be avoided in liver disease?
Dogs with liver disease should avoid foods that are high in copper or high in salts, such as lamb, duck, salmon, pork, and liver meat.
Can dog food cause liver problems?
It is possible that toxic dog foods lead to liver problems. That being said, many dogs that eat spoiled or toxic dog food are perfectly healthy. Your veterinarian can help determine the cause of your dog’s liver problems as well as the ideal treatment.