The dog’s liver
The dog's liver has a major role, it allows the synthesis of different components including lipids, albumin and urea. It facilitates digestion of fats and regulation of the immune system. The liver acts as a reservoir for blood and vitamins, and removes toxins. The dog's liver is composed of four hepatic lobes.
Chronic hepatic diseases
Chronic hepatic diseases may be caused by:
- viral or bacterial infection (leptospirosis)
- vascular abnormalities
- inflammatory diseases
- biliary diseases
- genetic origin
Each chronic attack induces an inflammation which may lead to a fibrous scar: hepatic fibrosis. The severity of the illness depends on the fibrosis development and its progression towards cirrhosis, which occurs in 60% of cases.
The disease evolves in an insidious way. At the beginning, clinical signs are not specific: anorexia, weight loss, lethargy... Followed by jaundice, abdominal distension (ascites) and behavioural disorders ranging from depression to clear signs of hepatic encephalopathy.
Fibrosis is reversible up to a certain limit. To ensure efficient treatment, the animal must be taken care of early. Waiting for the onset of clinical signs may be life-threatening.
If a hepatic disease is confirmed, a biopsy is often necessary to define the diagnosis, determine the cause of the disease and choose the appropriate treatment. Biopsy is an invasive procedure requesting a general anesthesia. Although risk of complications are low, they still exist.
Although first clinical signs (gastrointestinal troubles, nervous disorders, urinary problems, lack of appetite) are not specific to chronic hepatitis, it is important to get early screening to ensure better response to treatment.
To ensure efficient treatment, the animal must be taken care of early
The liver acts as a reservoir for blood and vitamins, and removes toxins