Did you know that liver disease is one of the most deadly problems affecting dogs? Many owners don't realise their dog's liver is failing until it's too late, and severe liver damage can be fatal. Luckily, there are many things you can do to keep your dog's liver healthy. Here are 3 tips to follow.
Watch Their Weight
Pet obesity is an increasingly prevalent problem across Australia. One study found that 33.5% of dogs are overweight and a further 7.6% are obese. Most people are aware that obesity can lead to problems like joint pain and canine diabetes, but many owners don't realise that an overweight dog is susceptible to liver damage. When a dog is overweight, they can develop hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) -- an excess fat buildup in the liver. This is a serious problem that can lead to decreased liver function and, eventually, failure. To prevent your dog from becoming overweight, make sure you feed them a healthy dog food, take them for regular walks and runs, and reduce the amount of treats you give them.
Keep Them Cool
Humans aren't the only ones susceptible to Australia's high heat. In summer, it's crucial that you keep your dog cool. Most of your pup's organs can be damaged by heatstroke, and the liver is no exception. Research has shown abnormal liver function results in 79-83% of dogs who have suffered from hyperthermia. You can stop your dog from getting heatstroke by ensuring they never get too hot. On hot days, make sure you keep walks to a reasonable length and make sure you have water to hand. Frozen fruit and kiddy pools may also be appreciated. Remember to also never leave your dog in a car unattended.
Clean Their Teeth
As with humans, a dog's teeth won't keep clean by themselves. Dogs can also get gum disease if their teeth aren't clean enough, just like their owners. Gum disease is best known for its ability to cause tooth decay and loss, but it can also be harmful to organs like the liver. Bacteria that moves from the gums to the bloodstream can attack the liver and cause it to fail. Thankfully, it's easy to keep your dog's teeth clean and disease-free by brushing them daily with a pet toothbrush and pet toothpaste. Try switching your dog's normal chews for dental chew bones to complement brushing.
Remember, if your dog does have a liver problem, catching it early gives the best chance of success. Symptoms like weight or appetite lose, increased thirst, jaundice (yellowing eyes and tongue), staggering, vomiting and diarrhoea and increased need to pee can all indicate liver damage. If your dog is displaying any of these signs already or you just want peace of mind, make an appointment with a vet at your earliest convenience.