Following a natural diet for a dog with liver disease can be extremely beneficial to improving liver function.
General dog food and diet must be considered to cut down on toxins found in processed dog foods, but in this article we’ll specifically focus on which treats that are natural and safe for your dog with liver issues and canine liver disease.
What’s in your dog’s diet is vitally important to healthy liver function so let’s first go over how important this organ is…
Overview of Liver Problems and Liver Failure in Dogs
The liver is one of the largest organs in a dog’s body. In fact, a dog’s liver is responsible for over 500 life-sustaining functions from things like breaking down toxins, regulating blood clotting and creating important nutrients.
If your dog suffers from any liver problems, change in diet is vital to help the liver regenerate and restore overall liver function.
The important jobs of your dogs liver
Some of the many vital functions it has:
- Synthesis of enzymes, proteins and metabolites
- Blood detoxification / eliminating toxins. One of the toxins that the liver metabolizes is ammonia, it is turned into a chemical called urea which is then eliminated in the urine.
- Generates energy, transforming glucose into glycogen
- Storage of important vitamins, like vitamin e – which is stored in fatty tissue, beneficial to cell health and healthy liver function.
As you can see, the liver’s job is extensive, so liver failure can make your dog very sick.
It’s important to tackle liver issues as soon as they arise as liver problems can also affect other systems, such as the heart or brain.
How do I know if my dog suffers from liver disease or liver failure?
Early Sign & Symptoms:
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Loss of apepetite
- Weight loss
- Drinking less or more than usual
- Shaking caused by discomfort
- Lethargy and fatigue
Symptoms of more advanced liver failure can be:
- Jaundice (accumulation of bile in the blood and tissues)
- Hepatic encephalopathy (brain inflammation caused by the presence of toxins in the blood)
- Ascites (accumulation of fluids in the abdomen)
- Spontaneous hemorrhage in the stomach, intestine or urinary tract. It occurs when the disease is advanced.
- Dependent edema
- Elevated liver enzymes: enzymes leak out of the liver cells when damaged
Most pets can recover from liver disease if the signs are mild and treated early.
If not dogs may also suffer from hepatic encephalopathy, associated in some cases with the presence of high levels of copper.
What is Hepatic Encephalopathy?
When liver disease is advanced it can no long properly filter ammonia (which in a healthy liver turns into urine) and affects the central nervous system. This causes a degenerative brain condition which leads to seizures, coma and altered consciousness.
Dog breeds more likely to suffer from liver disease
Any dog can suffer from a liver disease, although some breeds are more prone to it, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Bedlington Terrier, Schnauzer, West Highland White Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, Collie, German Shepherd, Dalmatian, Golden Retriever or Poodle, between others.
What causes liver disease in dogs?
Substances like antifreeze, xylitol (ingredient found in sugar-free candy), blue-green algae and human medications can cause initial liver damage and onset liver disease.
Dogs with liver disease are sometimes found to have an excessive build-up of copper in the liver. This is down to the liver not excreting copper properly and is known as copper storage hepatopathy.
Some breeds are more prone to this condition than others like Bedlington terriers, Labrador retrievers and Dalmatians.
Bacterial infection (Leptospirosis)
Puddles or bodies of water that carry urine from wildlife build up with bacteria that can spread through a dogs bloodstream.
Cases of leptospirosis have been on the rise in the US and Canada, mostly in the fall season and in tropical, subtropical and wet environments.
Some pet medications
Always discuss the risks of medications with your vet as some prescriptions are capable of causing liver damage that leads to disease. Some are especially dangerous for the liver if too high of a dose is administered.
Road traffic accidents that result in blunt trauma are a common cause of traumatic liver disease in dogs. Falls, gunshot wounds also fall into this category.
Some dog foods are high in alfatoxins, or mycotoxins – which are produced by a mold called ‘Aspergillus falvus’ – which grows on the corn and other grains used as ingredients in dog food. These toxins mainly effect the liver and can cause liver disease.
The high heat used in processing some dog foods results in toxic byproducts like acrylamides and heterocyclic amines. These cause extra stress on your dogs liver as they work harder to detox them.
Important ingredients a dog’s diet for liver health
It is important that the proteins are high quality and easy to digest. Depending on the liver disorder, it may be necessary to reduce the amount of protein to a greater or lesser extent, but don’t fully exclude protein from your dog’s diet.
Yet, you must reduce or even avoid in some cases any proteins of meat origin, especially the red meat, because it is a high-fat, which is rich in nitrogen that is then turned into ammonia (a toxic substance that the liver is forced to detoxify it).
It’s worth noting that a healthy liver is capable of detoxifying it, but the last thing you want to do is to force a sick one cope with it.
Please, provide your pooch with the right protein through a small percentage of poultry or fish, dairy and eggs as these are more beneficial. In the most extreme cases it makes sense to opt for only plant-based proteins.
The diet for dogs with liver disease has to be with a moderate / low fat content. The bile is produced by the liver to digest and absorb fats in the intestine. It is also responsible for regulating the cholesterol.
This means that if the diet you introduce has much fats and the liver is not working well, then it creates extra work.
Restrict the consumption of excess fat to support the function of the liver and avoid liver problems
According to some studies, the soluble fiber reduces the absorption of toxins at the intestinal level. This means that less toxins reach the liver through the blood.
Ensure that your canine has a good supply of fiber, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
Consumption of cereals such as oats and brown rice can be beneficial. It’s an extra energy source in diets, because proteins are decreased through eating less meat and we need to balance the nutrients in the custom diet for a liver disease.
What should dogs with liver problems not eat?
Things such as fish and organ meat are high in certain chemicals containing certain amino acids which are potentially toxic to dogs.
Is white rice good for dogs with liver disease?
Pet owners need to eat regulated portions of nutritious carbohydrates. Rice, potatoes and vegetables provide healthy food for animals with liver disease. Simple carbohydrate is easily digestible by the body.
Some dogs will require a specific diet for the rest of their lives
However, others can recover thanks to the great capacity of the liver to regenerate with the appropriate treatment plus nutritional support, even a special diet can fully restore its functions.
Other liver diseases require a low copper diet and in that case the best choice is the personalized diet with the right amount of copper. All told, canine liver disease benefits greatly with a focus on diet, that goes for those much needed treats too!
[Reviews] Best treats for dog liver problems
When you look for snacks for dogs with a liver disease, you should always opt for natural ingredients that protect your dog from developing further liver issues.
There are many products that protect the liver through complex antioxidants which help protect this important organ.
We’ve gathered for you the best suggestions for natural and healthy treats to add to your dog’s diet for liver care
4Legz Organic Sweet Potato All Natural Crunchy Dog Treats
These yummy treats are my top recommendation! Not just because Kimcho loves them! They are composed of 100% sweet potato puree and non-GMO organic human-grade ingredients.
These are ideal for liver problems due to their low sodium, protein, and copper levels.
The healthy treats are baked and your dog will love their crunchy texture. Zero salt, corn, wheat, animal by-products, chemicals, or preservatives are the top highlights in the formula. They are also made entirely in the USA.
Hill’s Science Diet Dog Treats, Crunchy Fruity Snacks
Made with real apples and oatmeal, these Hill’s Science Diet Dog Treats are a good choice for dogs with liver disease as they are low in protein and copper. They aren’t artificially preserved or flavored, which is a plus.
The treats are baked, which gives them a tasty crunchy texture that your furry friend is sure to love.
- Baked and tasty
- Crunchy texture
- Oats, good source of nutrients
- Veterinarian approved
Crunchy, so may not be good choice for senior dogs.
Crunchy, so may not be good choice for senior dogs.
The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Organic Dog Treats
- Treats made with chicken and turkey protein.
- Include vitamin E and Zinc.
- It does NOT have sodium.
- Human-grade recipe.
- All natural.
- Made in USA.
Its ingredients are human-grade and do not contain by-products, preservatives or transgenic ingredients. Please, note that the recipe contains chicken or beef, depending on the type that you choose.
So make sure that you check the protein content first and buy only if your dog doesn’t have serious liver problems.
Doglovely Top Pick: Zesty Paws Liver Support Tasty Bites for Dogs
The natural grain-free formula of these soft bites promotes the liver health and it’s my top pick due to the curcumin. Its holistic ingredients support the liver detox.
- Grain-free chewable supplement with natural ingredients
- Healthy and soft chews that support the liver health of your pooch
- Curcumin content. The curcumin is a powerful natural antioxidant.
- Healthy cocktail of fruits to support the liver function. These treats contain fruits such as cranberry, dandelion root powder and blueberry that promote healthy liver function.
- These tiny bites give your pup an extra metabolic boost that it needs when the liver doesn’t metabolize the energy sources.
- BioPerine (patented extract from black pepper) which increases the curcumin absorption for your four-legged buddy.
Zesty Paws contains high quality, natural ingredients, including curcumin
- Not good for furry friends that cannot eat meat at all (contains chicken).
- A bit pricey.
Loving Pets Natural Value Chicken Sticks
These chicken sticks from Loving Pets make ideal treats for dogs with liver disease as they are low in copper and sodium. 100% natural ingredients are used, including chicken (which is the first ingredient!) and rosemary extract. No-by-products, soy, grain, gluten, or wheat is used in the treats, which is a bonus. They’re also made in the USA!
- The liver is involved in the absorption and digestion of food, in addition to eliminating toxins from the blood.
- Liver diseases can cause serious problems for your dog.
- Although any breed can suffer liver disease, some are more prone than others.
- For any symptoms that may suggest liver problems in your dog, consult the veterinarian.
- The diet for a dog with liver disease should contain easily digestible high-quality protein, in addition to being low in fat, high in fiber and omega 3 and various vitamins and antioxidants.
- The diet for a dog with liver problems should be low in sodium, potassium and copper.
Consult your veterinarian before choosing one of the specific feeds for dogs with existing liver problems in the market.
Do not forget that this article is informative and you should always ask your veterinarian before making drastic diet changes.
5 thoughts on “Yummy & Natural Treats for Dogs with Liver Problems”
I would buy this product, if I knew my dog would eat then. I’ve tried everything to get him to take his Denamarin and he spots them out. Is there any way to get a sample of Therese liver support treats
Thank you for your comment. For Denamarin (and any dog supplements or vitamins in general), I can share my experience how to trick to trick your dog to eat it 🙂 My dog is picky as it comes to pills, so Denamarin and any vitamin is difficult. We treat him into eating it by putting into a piece of meat that he likes. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but 95% of the cases he happily eats his supplement. Now back to your question in regards to the treats, unfortunately, I don’t have a sample. Otherwise I’d happily offer it. My bet would be either 4legz treats or Zesty Paws, because they are nutritious and dogs love the sweet potato flavor. Zesty Paws are softer chews actually and act as a treat and a supplement. 4legz is more a treat 🙂 To see how your dog reacts, you may get 7 Ounce, 1 pack which is 8.99$ with shipping included in Amazon. In conclusion, my advice would be 4Legz or Zesty Paws as even picky dogs with a liver disease love them. Zesty Paws is more expensive, but all their products are good. The rest of the recommendations are all still valid, but I recommend these two brands for dogs who sniff it all 🙂 Hope this helps. Annie
My girls, two mini schnauzers, love the zesty paws. I am researching these recipes to see if I can come up with a treat solution. Less of a vitamin and more of a treat. Thanks for the reviews! Very helpful.
Thank you, Michele! Glad that we helped 🙂 We at Doglovely are big fans of Zesty Paws, natural and nutritious 🙂 Let me know how it goes with the recipes and what you recommend (I’m quite into the carrot and pumpkin flavor if we want more a treat than a vitamin :)). Hugs