Cat Liver and Dog Liver Health
The liver: function, disease, support
The liver is an amazing organ in the body and has many functions necessary to life.
Some of the liver's functions are removing toxins from the body (which can also damage the liver), the production and excretion of bile, and producing blood glucose (usable sugar) in times of need or stress. The storage of certain vitamins and minerals occurs here. Factors needed to make blood clot are made by the liver. Hormones and dead red blood cells are handled and broken down by this organ.
The liver works also to maintain immunity to fight off disease, it produces an important protein called albumin and converts certain amino acids ( the basic building blocks of protein) into other ones so animals don't have to necessarily eat all of them. Though cats are unable to do this as well as dogs and need to be sure to eat Taurine (an amino acid needed for heart and eye health).
All that being done by the liver should give you some idea of how ill a pet could get if their liver isn't functioning properly. There are birth defects where the blood supply goes around the liver instead of through it which causes growth stunting, lack of protein and fat metabolism and generally a poor doing youngster. This is usually handled by surgery when the vessel can be located and the blood flow corrected.
Other common diseases of the liver are toxic damage such as chemicals and even many medications, infections, cancer, and inflammatory diseases as well as direct trauma to the liver as in an accident such as being hit by a car. Cats, especially, can develop fatty livers that won't function if they aren't eating and the body shifts from protein as an energy source to fat. It is very important to keep cats eating when sick with other diseases so as to avoid adding this as a complication.
There are also parasites such as flukes that can damage the liver directly.
Of course, the best treatment for any of the above is to locate and treat the exact cause of the problem. Remove the toxin when possible. Treat infections that are there. Surgically remove the cancer if an isolated tumor. Treat any parasites found.
Unfortunately, many liver troubles can be hard to pin down to what is causing them. Blood tests for liver function can be hard to interpret. Ultrasound of the liver, especially when combined with a needle biopsy of the tissue can help, though still may only show too much fat in the cells or inflammation. Surgical exploratory and a larger biopsy may be better, but still has the above as a possiblity and the greater risk of a major surgery.
Many times all we can do is supportive care when a pet comes in with symptoms of liver disease. Fluids, vitamins, transfusions of blood and clotting factors, antibiotics, etc... depending on the problem may be necessary.
Certain supplements have been shown to help a great deal as well, most notaby, Milk Thistle. This has been used by veterinarians for a long time, even those that aren't versed in herbs and other alternative treatments. See here for a great supplement containing this Hepato Support for Dogs and Cats.
Here's hoping you never have to deal with this organ failing in your pet. One good thing is that even if the liver is damaged, it is one of the few organs of the body that can regenerate. So if you can get the animal through the initial event and it isn't cancer, the body given support will regrow some liver. Quite the trick.
RECOMMENDED ENTERTAINMENT: Madagascar 2: very funny and heartwarming story of teamwork and friendship and family.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED VIEWING; For those I didn't send here already, please watch the videos at Citizens Commission on Human Rights and send to others. The data there is very important for you and your loved ones and their health (especially watch the video entitled "Making a Killing"
Until next time,
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