Did you know that the liver is among the largest organs of the body? The liver is an organ that serves a variety of important functions that are essential to a dog’s overall health and well-being.
Functions of the liver
- Filtration -- The liver filters the blood coming from the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and removes toxins from the blood.
- Produces bile -- Bile is necessary for the emulsification of fats and oils so they can be properly digested and used in the body.
- Storage organ -- The liver is a ‘storehouse’ of vitamins, minerals, as well as glycogen and fat which are important sources of back-up energy for the body.
- Helps in the metabolism of drugs in the body.
- Synthesizes protein components that are involved in the body’s blood clotting mechanism and essential for maintaining appropriate blood pressure.
Important Causes of Liver Problems
- Genetic -- Some breeds are more predisposed to liver diseases, like Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, Skye terriers, Bedlington terriers, and West Highland terriers among others.
- Illness or disease -- Common issues include acute liver disease caused by exposure to excessive heat (hyperthermia or heat stroke) or a toxic substance. An obstruction in the bile duct can also lead to infection (cholecystitis).
- Medications - Liver problems can be a side effect of long-term use of steroids, antibiotics, painkillers, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), barbiturates, etc.
- Plants -- blue-green algae, ragwort, and certain types of mushrooms to name a few
- Molds (aflatoxins)
- Parasitic infections -- Untreated heartworm infestations
- Issues affecting the pancreas
- Fatty foods
Can supplements help support the function and integrity of a dog’s liver?
While many pet owners believe that supplements can help dogs suffering from impaired liver function, healthy dogs do benefit from these supplements, too.
The liver is a hub of major physiological processes. Having to deal with medications, parasites, toxins, infections, and stress can overwork and eventually overcome the liver if it does not have any back-up support. As dogs age, years of wear and tear can have a significant impact on the liver which can significantly affect its efficiency in detoxifying the blood.
How to support your dog’s liver
- Proper diet -- There are prescription diets that are specially formulated for dogs with liver disease.
- Regular physical activity
- Liver supplements - There are herbal and nutritional supplements that are known to support and strengthen the liver
Benefits of Liver Supplements In Dogs
Liver supplements help boost the nutritional support of dogs with liver problems. This can go a long way in supporting the dog’s healing process while he is under treatment and/or surgery for a liver problem. Liver supplements for dogs can help in the repair and regeneration of the liver’s cells. Supplements facilitate and enhance healing through the beneficial effects of antioxidants, detoxification while boosting protein synthesis. Giving the right supplements also help slow down the progress of the liver disease. These products can also help break down fats and proteins while supporting the detoxification process and improving liver function.
Liver Supplements For Dogs
Probiotics are believed to have a positive impact on liver disease and digestive function. An ideal probiotic “helps restore normal digestive function in dogs by increasing the number of probiotics, locking and removing harmful bacteria and toxins”.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids -- Their anti-inflammatory properties help alleviate anti-inflammatory conditions affecting the liver while promoting cellular health. NHV PetOmega 3 Supplement for Pets is a daily supplement that you can give to your pet dog.
Co-Enzyme Q10 - Enhances cellular metabolism and prevents the formation of free radicals that cause damage to cells and tissues.
- Milk Thistle -- It is a powerful antioxidant. It contains silymarin which is known to block toxins from entering the liver by removing them at the cellular level. Without the insult associated with toxins, the cells of the liver can regenerate leading to improved liver function. A popular supplement that contains milk thistle is NHV Milk Thistle Supplement for Pets.
- Curcumin/turmeric extract -- It possesses potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric Supplement for Pets is packed with anti-inflammatory and nutritive properties that can help support liver health and function.
- Artichoke -- The leaf of artichoke supports the normal metabolism of the liver and promotes the flow of bile through the bile duct to the gastrointestinal tract.
- Dandelion -- Supplements that contain Dandelion leaf supports liver function by inhibiting the accumulation of fat in the liver.
S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) -- Supports the function of the liver through the formation of glutathione.
Glutathione -- is a powerful antioxidant that is often called the ‘king of antioxidants’.
- Vitamin E -- Helps protect the liver from the accumulation of copper. It is also a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and protects the liver from fibrosis.
- Vitamin B12 -- Supports proper digestion and absorption of food.
Zinc -- supports the integrity and function of liver cells.
- Dimethylglycine (DMG) -- A type of amino acid that supports the regeneration of liver cells and helps facilitate the elimination of toxins from the dog’s body.
- Methionine -- Supports the proper detoxification process in the liver. Methionine also helps in fat metabolism which prevents their build-up in the liver. It possesses powerful antioxidant properties and supports glutathione which is the most important detoxifier of the liver.
- N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine -- Aids in the elimination of toxins from the liver.
Silybin (Silibinin) -- It’s a flavonoid of silymarin which is an extract from the seeds of milk thistle. It has been shown to possesses protective properties against damage to the cell membrane and act synergistically with SAMe to increase the levels of glutathione in the liver. It also possess anti-inflamamtory and cholerectic properties.