The Best Diet for Dogs with Enlarged Livers

As a pet parent, you want what’s best for your pup. But finding the right diet when your dog is diagnosed with an enlarged liver can be daunting. Discover the best nutrition to keep your furry friend healthy and thriving.

Quick facts: Best Diet For Dog With Enlarged Liver

✅ A diet rich in fiber and low in fat helps to reduce fat accumulation in the liver, which is important for dogs with enlarged liver. (Pets WebMD)
✅ Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish oil and flaxseed oil, help to reduce inflammation and can benefit dogs with enlarged liver. (PetMD)
✅ High-quality protein sources, such as lean meats, fish, and eggs, are beneficial for dogs with enlarged liver as they help to support healthy liver function. (VetStreet)
✅ Probiotics are helpful for dogs with enlarged liver, as they help to improve digestion and reduce inflammation. (PetCoach)
✅ A low-sodium diet can help to reduce fluid retention in the body, which is beneficial for dogs with enlarged liver. (PetMD)


Dogs with enlarged livers suffer from a variety of health issues, including liver disease, jaundice and chronic illness. Because of this, providing them with the proper nutrition is essential for their wellbeing. A specifically designed diet for canines with an enlarged liver can help reduce symptoms and improve their quality of life.

The best diet for dogs with an enlarged or diseased liver should include:

  • High-quality protein
  • Plenty of carbohydrates
  • Healthy fats
  • Low salt and other additives or preservatives
  • Low-fat foods
  • A source of omega-3 fatty acids

In addition, it is important to regulate portion sizes so that your pup receives adequate amounts of nutrients without overloading their system with excess calories.

Causes of Enlarged Liver in Dogs

Enlarged liver in dogs is usually caused by liver disease, most commonly due to bile acid accumulation, toxins, and cirrhosis. Other causes include chronic inflammation, parasites, bacterial infections or parasites, and even cancer.

Diet can play an important role in helping to manage the condition, so it is important to know what could have caused the enlarged liver in the first place.


Genetics is a common cause of an enlarged liver in dogs and can often be traced back to a congenital disorder. These disorders can be caused by an inherited gene or by problems related to the structure of the liver itself. In some cases, an enlarged liver may be caused by abnormal cell growth, which can lead to the accumulation of fat droplets inside the organ and its enlargement.

Certain breeds that are prone to this condition are:

  • Giant Schnauzers
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Gordon Setters
  • Clumber Spaniels
  • Irish Wolfhounds

Signs of an enlarged liver due to genetics include weight loss, lethargy, abdominal pain or distention, and jaundice (yellow skin discoloration). If this type of enlargement is suspected in your dog’s case it’s important for them to receive veterinary treatment as soon as possible.


Infections in dogs are a common cause of an enlarged liver. Bacterial and viral infections can disrupt the liver’s normal functions and make it swell. A dog with an enlarged liver may have signs of fever, lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, or diarrhea due to an underlying infection. Depending on the severity of the infection, antibiotics or antiviral medications may be given to help treat it. In some cases, a dog’s enlarged liver may require surgery to remove infected tissue or drain accumulated fluids.

Diet plays an important role in dogs with an enlarged liver caused by infection, as certain foods can help boost their immune system and fight off the underlying cause of their enlarged liver. Owners should choose foods that are rich in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables as well as lean proteins that can help promote healing in their pup’s body.


Toxins are one of the main causes of an enlarged liver in dogs. Toxins damage the cells of a dog’s liver, and if left untreated can lead to long-term health issues.

The most common toxins that commonly cause an enlarged liver in dogs are acetominophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These toxins can be ingested directly, or indirectly by way of products such as flea treatments, dewormers and heartworm preventatives. Additionally, some types of mold and mushroom poisoning have been found to cause liver enlargement in dogs.

To prevent further damage to the liver, it is important for pet owners to follow all directions on these products, use them only when necessary, and consult with a veterinarian prior to use.


Medications are a common cause of an enlarged liver in dogs. Certain medications can cause damage to the cells and tissues in the liver, leading to inflammation, scarring, and potential long-term health problems.

The most commonly prescribed medication that can lead to an enlarged liver is corticosteroids. If a dog is taking these medications for an extended period of time, or if the dosage isn’t properly managed, it could lead to liver damage.

Other medications that could potentially cause an enlarged liver include:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungals
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Additionally, if your dog has ingested something toxic or poisonous they may also experience an enlarged liver as a result. To ensure your pet’s safety it’s important to talk with your veterinarian about any medications you are giving them and make sure you are following dosing instructions properly.

Symptoms of Enlarged Liver in Dogs

Enlarged liver in dogs, or hepatomegaly, can lead to several health problems such as prolonged jaundice, poor appetite, anemia and reduced energy levels. As the condition progresses, other symptoms such as abdominal swelling, vomiting, diarrhea and an abdominal distension can be experienced.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms associated with enlarged liver in dogs so that you can take necessary actions to address the issues:

  • Prolonged jaundice
  • Poor appetite
  • Anemia
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal distension

Weight loss

Weight loss is one of the most common symptoms associated with an enlarged liver in dogs. An enlarged liver can cause a decrease in appetite and weight loss due to the lack of nutrients being absorbed by the body. Additionally, an enlarged liver can cause a decrease in the body’s metabolic rate, leading to further weight loss and weakened muscles. Vomiting, lethargy, and abdominal swelling may also indicate that your dog has an enlarged liver.

Depending on the severity of enlarged condition, some dogs may be unable to absorb necessary nutrients and will require a specialized diet plan. The best diet for dogs with enlarged livers typically includes foods that are low-fat and high in proteins to help support their digestive system while providing enough calories for energy requirements. Vitamins and supplements may be included as needed to ensure optimal health and wellness throughout their recovery period.

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms associated with an enlarged liver in dogs. Dogs suffering from this condition may lose their interest in food and even refuse to eat.

It is important to note that once any underlying cause for the enlarged liver has been addressed, appetite tends to return. Depending on the severity of the case, some owners may need to tempt their pets with strong-smelling or tasty treats in order to get them eating again.

If your dog continues to exhibit a loss of appetite over a period of days, consult your veterinarian immediately as this could be an indication that something else is wrong.


Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms of an enlarged liver in a dog and may be caused by liver disease or another digestive health problem.

If your dog is experiencing bouts of vomiting, it’s important to visit the vet for further investigation as there could be other underlying issues contributing to their condition. It’s also important to watch their eating and drinking habits carefully, as they may start eating and drinking less due to the discomfort associated with an enlarged liver.

Depending on the severity, your vet may prescribe medication or suggest changes to their diet. A low-fat diet rich in N-acetylcysteine may help reduce buildup of toxins in their liver, however be sure to consult a vet as each case is unique.


Canines with an enlarged liver often experience diarrhea as a symptom. This is usually caused by the inability of the liver to metabolize fat properly and digest food in their usual manner. Dogs with an enlarged liver may also display a yellowish tinge on their skin, and be losing weight due to a reduced appetite. If your pet is displaying these symptoms, it’s imperative that you seek help from your veterinarian as soon as possible.

A proper diet plays a very important role in managing diseases such as enlarged livers, and limiting fat intake can help improve digestion and liver function. The veterinarian might also prescribe nutritional supplements or medications to help support your dog’s liver function.


Weakness is one of the most common and noticeable symptoms of an enlarged liver in dogs. Dogs who suffer from enlarged livers often tire easily, have little or no energy, and are sluggish during activity. Other signs of weakness include panting, labored breathing, reluctance to exercise or move around, difficulty standing up after lying down for long periods of time, and slow recovery times following activity.

If you suspect your dog may have an enlarged liver, it’s a good idea to take her to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as possible. In severe cases, an enlarged liver can lead to weakness that could eventually be fatal if not treated properly.

Diagnosis of Enlarged Liver in Dogs

Enlarged liver in dogs can be diagnosed through a variety of diagnostic tests performed by a veterinarian. This includes:

  • Physical examinations
  • Abdominal ultrasounds
  • Laboratory tests
  • Biochemical analysis
  • Radiographs

These tests help identify if there are any underlying health issues that could be causing the enlarged liver and determine the treatment plan.

Blood tests

Blood tests play an important role in diagnosing enlarged liver in dogs. The most common tests are the Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Blood Chemistry Panel.

  • A CBC measures the types of cells in the blood and can help identify anemia, infections, or other chronic diseases that may be causing the liver to be enlarged.
  • The Blood Chemistry Panel looks at levels of electrolytes, enzymes and hormones, which can help determine more specific causes. It also evaluates kidney function, since kidney and liver problems often occur together.

If a diagnosis is unclear after these tests have been done, your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic tests such as a bile acid test or abdominal ultrasound. While these tests can provide valuable information about your pet’s condition, a diagnosis of an enlarged liver does not always require additional testing.


Ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic technique that can be used to identify an enlarged liver in dogs. This method is painless and relatively inexpensive compared to other imaging techniques. It has the benefit of providing accurate images in real time, allowing the veterinarian to observe changes in the organ as they occur.

Ultrasound imaging also provides important information about the composition of tissues, which can help differentiate between normal and cancerous cells. By examining the shape and size of liver cells, a veterinarian may be able to diagnose an enlarged liver due to diseases such as cirrhosis, cancer, or congenital defects. In some cases, ultrasound may also be able to detect fluid accumulation around the organ that could indicate liver failure due to infection or toxicity.

Ultrasound imaging is often used in conjunction with other diagnostic tests such as:

  • Blood work
  • Urine analysis

for a more accurate diagnosis of enlarged liver in dogs.


Biopsy is a procedure used to diagnose the underlying cause of an enlarged liver in dogs. During this procedure, tissue samples from the affected dog’s liver are taken and examined under a microscope for further examination. This helps to identify if there are any unusual cells present, if any viruses or bacteria are present and if the liver cell structure appears normal.

Biopsy may be used alone or in conjunction with other tests such as blood tests, urine tests and imaging studies. It is important to note that biopsy is not always necessary as other methods may be more suitable in some cases. Additionally, biopsy results can take up to several weeks so it is important to prepare both mentally and emotionally for this potential delay before undergoing the procedure.

Treatment of Enlarged Liver in Dogs

If your dog has been diagnosed with an enlarged liver, it is important to make dietary changes to support their condition. An appropriate diet can help reduce liver inflammation, improve liver function and support overall health.

Let’s look at the best dietary options for dogs with enlarged livers:


Medications may be prescribed to treat an enlarged liver in dogs. These medications can help reduce inflammation and prevent further damage to the liver. Common medications prescribed include prednisone, ursodiol, vitamins, antibiotics, and anticonvulsants.

In addition, diet may be altered with a focus on low calorie density and increased levels of protein. Fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to help reduce inflammation in the liver.

Lastly, if the underlying cause is due to a virus or other infection, then antibiotics may be prescribed as well. A veterinarian should be consulted before any medication is given as some drugs can have adverse effects on the body if not taken correctly.


Surgery is a viable option for treating enlarged livers in dogs. Depending on the underlying cause, surgical procedures can repair or remove part of the liver, as well as relocate the organ to better improve its functioning. If cancer is the culprit behind the enlarged liver, surgery may be necessary to remove affected areas of tissue.

In some cases of non-cancerous enlargements, liver shunts – which are channels that form between blood vessels – can develop. While antibiotics may temporarily alleviate symptoms in these cases, surgery is usually needed to repair the shunts and improve long-term health of the dog’s liver.

This treatment should generally be used with caution and must be accompanied by dietary changes to make sure your pet is receiving all necessary nutrients while they recover from their procedure. If your vet has recommended surgery as an option for treating an enlarged liver in your dog, it’s important to research thoroughly and understand exactly what to expect before moving forward with this treatment plan.


The diet of a dog suffering from an enlarged liver should be tailored to the individual needs of the pet. Generally, a diet high in proteins and moderate in carbohydrates is recommended as proteins have been found to support liver function. Dogs with an enlarged liver may benefit from low-fat meals that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in salmon, anchovies, mackerel, and sardines.

Carbohydrates should be limited and some sources of carbohydrates may need to be completely removed from the diet depending on what is causing the enlargement. It is important for a dog’s diet to be balanced with all essential vitamins and minerals and so supplements may also need to be included. If a dog’s enlarged liver is caused by cancer, then specific veterinary diets may need to be prescribed by a veterinarian.

The Best Diet for Dogs with Enlarged Livers

If your dog has been diagnosed with an enlarged liver, it is important to provide them with a special diet that is high in nutrients but low in fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

A diet high in fiber content and low in phosphorus will help to reduce any further damage to the liver. Knowing which nutrition options to provide your dog can be difficult to figure out, so let’s look into the details:

Low-fat, low-protein diet

Dogs with enlarged livers often struggle to process nutrients from their diets, so it is important to provide them with the best nutrition possible. A low-fat, low-protein diet can help dogs with enlarged livers better manage their condition as it decreases the amount of fat and protein that needs to be processed by their livers. This type of diet should not be used as a permanent solution for dogs with enlarged livers, but can instead be used in conjunction with other treatments and therapies.

In addition to a low-fat, low protein diet, experts suggest increasing fiber content in the dog’s diet. This will help slow down digestion which will help keep the liver from working overtime and reduce any discomfort or discomfort that could come from digesting high fat foods. Additionally, certain dietary supplements such as omega fatty acid supplements are recommended for supporting a healthy liver in dogs.

High-fiber diet

If your dog has been diagnosed with an enlarged liver, it is important to provide proper nutrition for them. An appropriate diet can help reduce the strain on the liver, and ultimately improve your pup’s quality of life. One of the best diets for dogs with enlarged livers is a high-fiber diet.

High-fiber foods benefit a dog’s health in many ways. Fibers are indigestible complex carbohydrates that the body doesn’t break down into glucose or other nutrients. But these fibers have many other benefits including helping to maintain regularity, controlling blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol levels, and helping to keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy and functioning properly. A high-fiber diet is also beneficial for dogs with an enlarged liver because fiber can help slow down digestion and prevent rapid swings in blood sugar levels, making them easier on the liver.

The best sources of fiber for dogs with an enlarged liver are:

  • Lean meats (especially chicken)
  • Legumes such as split peas or lentils
  • High-fiber vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots
  • Whole grains like oats or brown rice

Home-prepared meals

For dogs suffering from liver disease, home-prepared meals may be the best choice when it comes to creating a diet plan. Home-cooked meals can provide more control over what your dog gets, allowing you to customize the meal to fit their needs. When creating a home-cooked meal plan for your pet, make sure that it is balanced and provides all of the essential nutrients. Additionally, consider using small amounts of low-sodium beef or chicken broth to make the meal more palatable and enjoyable for your pet.

When considering ingredients for home-prepared meals, look for low sodium items and those with a high nutrient content such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other sources of dietary fiber like brown rice or barley. Additionally, adding beneficial fats such as flaxseed oil or fish oil helps provide essential fatty acids for their overall health.

Finally, always consult with your veterinarian before preparing any meals as they can provide valuable advice on how to best create a diet that will benefit your pet’s liver health.


Ultimately, the best diet for dogs with enlarged livers is one that is low in fat and high in nutrient-rich foods. Low fat diets can help reduce the workload on the liver while providing essential nutrients. Additionally, reducing processed treats and adding fresh ingredients to meals can help ensure that the food your dog is consuming is of optimal quality.

Last but not least, speaking with your veterinarian about supplements or medications that could help support your pup’s particular nutritional needs is an important part of managing an enlarged liver in dogs. With proper nutrition, exercise, veterinary guidance and love, you can help to improve your pup’s quality of life for years to come.

FAQs about: Best Diet For Dog With Enlarged Liver

Question 1: What is the best diet for a dog with an enlarged liver?

Answer 1: The best diet for a dog with an enlarged liver is a low-fat, moderate-protein diet. Foods that are high in fiber, such as vegetables and oats, can also be beneficial. Avoiding processed foods and treats is also important, as they often contain high amounts of fat, sugar, and salt.

Question 2: How much protein should a dog with an enlarged liver have?

Answer 2: A dog with an enlarged liver should have a moderate amount of protein in their diet. This can vary depending on age and size, but a good rule of thumb is to feed your dog about 25-30% protein from animal sources. Plant-based proteins can also be beneficial.

Question 3: What foods should be avoided for a dog with an enlarged liver?

Answer 3: Foods that should be avoided for a dog with an enlarged liver include processed foods and treats, which often contain high amounts of fat, sugar, and salt. Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as organ meats, should also be avoided. Additionally, foods that are high in phosphorus such as dairy products should be avoided.

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