The illness of a loved one is always a distressing time for anybody. The entire family gets impacted and the atmosphere gloomy. It's even worse when our pets fall sick because they can't speak and tell us that they're feeling unwell. Therefore it's more important that we're always alert and watch for any symptoms of sickness. Now I'm not talking about the coughs and colds and minor tunny upsets Today we're going to focus on the big one; liver disease in dogs. Remember that liver disease in dogs can take their lives so we have to know how to be able to spot the warning signs. It's easy to give up when you find out that your pet has liver disease or atleast shows signs of having it. But do we give up on our family members that easy? No we don't. So why would we give up on our best friend!!? It's important to remember that the liver has an ability to revive itself. So if your pet doesn't have an advanced stage of liver disease, there's room for hope. When we get jaundice, the first thing our doctor focuses on is our diet. Why? Because jaundice impacts the liver directly. So when our pet has liver disease, their diet too, becomes critical. Someone once asked me if the should continue feeding their pet a raw food diet since he has liver disease. My question back to him was “why would you feed your healthy dog raw , but not your sick pet?” “Wouldn't you feed your family member fresh food as compared to processed foods?” Lets Talk! Lets look at some of the ingredients of commercial pet food: 1: Preservatives! Preservatives! Preservatives!: Commercial pet food contains Chemical preservatives. 2: Artifical colors, artifical sweetners, artificial flavours, sauces or supplemental foods ( condiments). Some even contain Propylene glycol, hexylene glycol, and butylene glycol , Aloe vera gel, Alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic acid, Glyceryl triacetate, honey,lithium chloride, black treacle ( also known as molasses) and other taste enhancing products. 3: Cooked, nutrient deficient foods: Commercial food is not high in nutrients. More often than not the quality of pet food isn't that great. Added to that, these foods go through the two procedures of Rendering and Extruding. Rendering is a process that converts waste animal tissue into supposedly value-added material. A lot of the tissue comes from animal slaughterhouses but you will also find leftover restaurant grease and expired meat from stores. Some of the material also contains dead animals. Extruding: It's a cooking process wherein a set of multiple ingredients are forced through an opening onto a plate where the food is further cut into various shapes and sizes( think pasta, bread sticks, croutons, snacks and of course some pet foods) These two processes further destroy the original, natural vitamins and minerals. So then you have food manufacturers try to enrich these foods by adding extra nutrients. It's a weird thing; first destroy the natural stuff in food and then try and make up for it by adding stuff! All the above makes digestion very difficult for our pets on a normal day, so imagine the added pressure of digesting this food when they have liver disease. Pets that survive on kibble and commercial pet food are susceptible to the big C ( Cancer) and diabetes. Yet, sadly, raw food has a bad reputation. A lot of people will tell you that raw food contains bacteria, especially salmonella which leads to infection. Well you know what?! Salmonella can be found in raw eggs and fruits and vegetables too. Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in human and animal intestines and are shed through faeces. Foods become contaminated when prepared by people who don't wash their hands after using the washroom or even after changing a diaper. But, this bacteria is also a part of the natural system of a dog and they shed this bacteria no matter what they eat. If you're a well read pet owner, you will know that there have a been a large number of recalls happening in the pet food industry. The incidents of recall have been much higher for kibble but negligible and in fact almost no reports of human or animal outbreaks of salmonella poisoning due to raw food. Anyway, lets now look at ways to deal with and help our pets get cured of liver disease if possible: 1. Go Natural: We've all seen our pets lick the floor, roll about , eat stuff off the tiles and what not. Well, have you ever thought that along with whatever they're eating off the floor, they're also lapping up the chemicals that are present in our floor cleaners. Anything that has chemicals in it is a contributor to your pets liver disease. Lets look at cleaners that you use at home. They contain Pesticides and other chemicals used to kill rats and bugs. The floor cleaners that you use contain dangerous vapors and will contribute to asthma and other respiratory diseases. Chlorine which is used in toilet bowl cleaners can cause vomiting for instance. Haven't we all had our pets drink out of the toilet bowl? Also, be careful if your pet loves spending time in the pool. Glycol Ethers which are used in cleaning products such as glass and carpet cleaners are likely to cause lung and kidney damage to your pets. While we love the smell of phenol, we must remember that it is a very toxic and harmful cleaning product for pets. So is with bleach. Although bleach is useful as a disinfectant, it will destroy your pets mouth and throat if ingested or will harm their paws if they accidentally walk over it. We also do not want our dogs consuming those small plastic laundry detergent pods. They contain high doses of concentrated detergent, softner and other soap types in plastic that can dissolve. But if your pet chews up one of these, he will experience difficulties in breathing and might spend an entire day vomiting. It's important to keep all our household cleaning products safely latched and stored in places where our kids and pets cannot reach them. If you have a garden, you want to keep away the chemicals used in the garden locked up too. Stuff like fertilizers and insecticides might be extremely toxic if ingested. Also watch what plants and herbs they're chewing in your garden. These might be poisonous and cause severe allergic reactions. You also don't want to have opened cans of paint lying around. Clean up completely after a paint job or carpentry work at home. Pets will chew pieces of paint and anything else that catches their fancy. Rat poison contains arsenic so be very careful where you leave those blocks of chewable rat poison lying around. Try and use natural and homemade cleaning products. Something that we overlook and are very casual about is our own medication. It is possible that your pet digs into your medicine box and swallows your medication. So keep it out of their reach. Try not to give them too much of their medication too. Remember that their own medication used for long periods of time can cause or contribute significantly to liver damage. 2: Proteins and Liver: It's important to remember that proteins are very important to revive the liver. You will have people telling you all sorts of things ; that a sick dog will not be able to consume high quantities of protein and that they must be placed on a low protein diet. In fact, it's the opposite. Reduced quantities of protein or poor quality of proteins might actually harm the liver. Your dogs liver needs protein to heal so if someone tells you that a dog with liver disease will not be able to digest protein, please do not listen to them. In fact, it is important to give them high quality protein in the form of RAW, natural meat. Why? Well because these meats will have natural minerals, healthy omega-3s, balanced fat levels, vitamins and the right quantities of amino acids. 3: One of the scariest after effects of liver disease is Brain Disorder in our dogs. Hepatopathy or Hepatic encephalopathy is a disorder that affects the nervous system. Why does it occur? It happens because while your pet has liver disease, the liver is unable to remove the ammonia from it. Normally the liver is supposed to convert ammonia into urea which is less toxic, but if your pet is suffering with liver disease, it might not be able to effectively do that thus leading to an altered mental function. So while you cannot completely eliminate red meat or organs ( which have high levels of ammonia) from your dogs diet at this time, make sure that the quality of food you're feeding him is the best. 4: Jaundice: We all know that Jaundice is a sickness due to impaired liver function. Watch your pet for signs of yellow in the eyes, gums, tongue and even in their ears. Their urine might be almost red and the color of their stools might be very dark. Ensure that you do not feed your dog too much fat while he has liver disease. Don't cut it off completely but reduce the quantity. Too much fat will put a significant strain on your dogs liver. Some foods that are high in fat content are : Low quality beef, buffalo and even marrow bones. Reduce duck and lamb too. 5: In one of our previous posts, we spoke about probiotics. These are good bacteria, remember? You could, with appropriate guidance ensure that your pet gets a healthy supplement in the form of probiotics and other supplements like amino acids, Vitamin C and B complex. It's important to know that pets with advanced stage or last stage liver disease might experience internal bleeding . Liver disease hampers clotting of the blood. So you could supplement your dog with prothrombin which is a protein and clotting factor. It is also known as Vitamin K. Have you ever heard of Mary thistle or Holy thistle? If not, you must know that it's a herb which has been used for years as a solution to numerous health problems. Is is extremely beneficial for the digestive system. It is also more commonly known as Milk Thistle and can be given in small doses not exceeding 3 doses everyday. Give your pet a quarter teaspoon. Add a quarter teaspoon apple cider vinegar to your pets food too. It will help cleaning out the liver. You could feed your pet all the above but if they do not have access to clean drinking water, all purposes are defeated. Just like us, our pets need filtered, clean water so make sure their bowls are refilled every few hours. Additionally, get all required medical tests done to ensure that you do not miss out on important aspects of their disease and that you are updated with how far gone the disease it. Most importantly you need to be aware of everything about the disease in order to be able to take the necessary precautions for your pet. Read up , join some communities and most importantly, don't give up hope. Here's wishing you and your beloved pet the best of health!!!!