Lebererkrankung bei deinem Vierbeiner? Ursachen, Symptome und Tipps zur Vorbeugung

Liver disease in your four-legged friend? Causes, symptoms and tips for prevention

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Liver disease and functional impairment in dogs is common but often remains undetected until advanced stages. The liver has an amazing ability to heal itself, meaning that damage can often be repaired without any obvious symptoms. Early detection is hampered by non-specific initial symptoms, which makes diagnosis in the early stages complicated. Signs such as increased susceptibility to parasite infestation, food intolerances or frequent skin problems can indicate possible liver dysfunction. An accurate diagnosis usually occurs when specific symptoms of severe impairment occur and are confirmed by blood tests.

Main causes and types of liver diseases

Infectious diseases such as leptospirosis or contagious canine hepatitis (hepatitis contagiosa canis) are among the common liver problems. Furthermore, various triggers cause acute inflammation of the liver, including poisoning through the use of chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides and pesticides, but also through the intake of xylitol or certain medications. Overexertion can also lead to liver inflammation.

However, the range of liver diseases in dogs is wide and includes:

Other liver diseases include liver cancer, the formation of abscesses in the liver, cirrhosis of the liver, and fatty liver disease, which is characterized by excessive accumulation of fat in the liver. Genetic disorders, such as copper storage disease, also affect liver health. Liver shunts, i.e. portosystemic vascular anomalies that can be either congenital or acquired, and liver congestion, which is caused by cardiovascular diseases such as right heart failure, pose further challenges. There are also acute and chronic liver dysfunctions, including chronic liver failure .

  • acute and chronic liver dysfunction
  • chronic liver failure
  • Infections, including leptospirosis and hepatitis
  • Acute liver inflammation caused by toxins
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver abscesses and cirrhosis
  • Fatty liver (lipidosis)
  • genetic disorders e.g. copper storage disease
  • Portosystemic shunts, usually congenital or acquired vascular anomaly
  • Liver congestion caused by cardiovascular problems (e.g. right heart failure)

Race-specific predispositions

Some dog breeds are genetically more susceptible to certain types of liver disease. These include Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers and West Highland White Terriers for idiopathic chronic hepatitis, and Bedlington Terriers, Skye Terriers and other spaniel breeds for copper storage diseases. Preventive measures to minimize liver strain are particularly important for owners of these breeds.

Cocker Spaniel liver disease

Early detection and symptoms

Early detection of liver disease can be challenging because symptoms are often nonspecific. Signs include:

  • Loss of appetite and occasional vomiting or diarrhea
  • Changes in stool color
  • Decrease in general vitality and skin problems
  • Progressive symptoms include weight loss, jaundice and, in severe cases, neurological disorders and ascites

Causes and risk factors

Liver disease can be caused by genetic predispositions , medication side effects, overexertion , and environmental toxins . Diet-related causes include poor quality food, poorly digestible proteins and an excess of proteins .

Excessive protein intake is a known cause of liver disease in dogs. This overnutrition often results from feed with a high crude protein content or from additional feeding of protein-rich products. Such diets put a strain on the liver and can quickly lead to liver problems. In the event of protein intake exceeding the dog's needs, the liver must convert excess proteins into carbohydrates. These conversion processes place a heavy burden on the liver and result in the formation of large amounts of metabolites, including ammonia. Such substances can not only put a strain on the liver, but also other organs such as the kidneys and, in high concentrations, can trigger central nervous disorders.

Inferior and difficult-to-digest protein components :

Excerpt from REGULATION (EU) 2020/354 on "Feed for special nutritional purposes":

Support of liver function in chronic liver insufficiency:

—Average protein content: Crude protein ≤ 279 g/kg complete feed with a moisture content of 12%

for dogs raw protein ≤ 370 g/kg complete feed with a moisture content of 12%

— for cats and selected protein sources and recommended digestibility of dietary protein ≥ 85%

Support liver health through nutritional supplements

The following dietary supplements can be helpful to support liver function:

  • Milk thistle : Protects and promotes the regeneration of liver cells
  • Turmeric : With curcumin, promotes liver function through its anti-inflammatory properties
  • Antioxidants : Protect the liver from free radical damage
  • Omega-3 fatty acids : have an anti-inflammatory effect and promote liver health
  • B vitamins : Vitamin B12 and B6 in particular play an important role in metabolism and can support liver function by helping to reduce fatigue and provide energy.
  • Green Tea Extract : Contains polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties and may promote liver health.
  • Dandelion (Dandelion Root) : Traditionally used to support liver health as it stimulates bile flow and aids in detoxification.

How BugBell helps

Diet plays a crucial role in the health of a dog's liver. Too high a fat or protein content in the feed can overload the liver and lead to metabolic disorders.

With our dog biscuits for healthy intestinal flora, you can help your furry friend detoxify and strengthen the immune and digestive systems in a balanced way.

All of our insect-based products have an average protein content of less than 25% crude protein with a digestibility of ≥ 80% required.

The ingredients are precisely tailored to detoxify and stabilize the liver and kidneys in particular.


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