The Best Diet for Dogs with Liver Disease

Are you worried about your dog’s health? Liver disease can be devastating, but with the right diet, it can be managed. You’ll learn the best diet to help your pup thrive.

Quick facts: Best Diet For Dogs With Liver Disease

  • ✅ Feeding a low-protein and low-fat diet can help reduce the workload of the liver and maintain healthy organ function in dogs with liver disease – Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
  • ✅ Dogs with liver disease should avoid high-fat foods, such as bacon, butter, and fatty meats – PetMD
  • ✅ Fresh Water is essential for a healthy liver in dogs – PetMD
  • ✅ Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and protect the liver from further damage – Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice
  • ✅ Fruits and Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet for dogs with liver disease – Animal Wellness Magazine

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Caring for a dog with liver disease can be a challenging endeavor. When caring for a dog with liver disease, it is important to ensure that their diet is properly balanced and tailored to meet their specific needs. Providing them with the correct nutrition can help support and maintain their liver health and even potentially improve or slow down the progression of the disease.

Protein sources should be of high quality and low in purines, and fats should be plant-based and restricted in order to prevent gastric issues. Furthermore, you should speak to your veterinarian before making any major changes to your pet’s diet; they can provide additional advice on what is best for your pup.

With these tips in mind, read on to learn more about the best diet for dogs with liver disease:

Causes of Liver Disease

Liver disease in dogs is typically caused by viral infections, liver inflammation, toxins, and nutritional deficiencies. Other possible causes include adverse reactions to drugs, genetics, congenital abnormalities, and cancer.

While these diseases may not seem common, they can be very serious and require the right treatments and diet to address.


Genetics are one of the primary causes of liver disease in dogs. Certain breeds, such as Maltese and Miniature Poodles, have a tendency to develop liver problems because of an inherited disorder. This genetic defect limits the ability of some breeds to absorb nutrients properly, leading to an impaired functioning liver and an increased risk for diseases. Additionally, due to their small size and delicate physiology, these same breeds tend to be more sensitive to various substances that may harm the liver.

It is important for pet owners to research their dog’s breed prior to adoption in order ensure that they are aware of any potential health risks and plan accordingly for preventative care or treatments should the pet develop any kind of health issue.


Toxins are among the leading causes of liver disease in dogs. They can be ingested through food, cleaning products, or other environmental sources. These toxins cause irritation and inflammation in the liver, leading to liver damage and deterioration. In long-term cases, this can lead to cirrhosis or cancer of the liver.

It is important to identify potential sources of toxins in your dog’s environment and take appropriate measures to keep them safe. Keeping your dog up-to-date on vaccines and regularly checked for parasites may help reduce their risk for toxic exposures as well.

Additionally, providing a balanced and nutrient-filled diet low in processed foods can help support healthy liver function. Lastly, supplementing your pup’s diet with essential fatty acids has been shown to have positive effects on the health of their liver.


Infections are the number one cause of liver disease in dogs, with the most common being Hepatitis. This is caused by a variety of viruses which can damage the cells of the liver, leading to inflammation and scarring. Coronavirus, Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus 2 (CAV-2), and Lyme disease are all examples of infections that can affect the liver in dogs.

Treatment for infections typically involves antibiotics or antivirals in addition to supportive care such as fluids and nutrition to help your pup stay healthy while their body recovers from the infection. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove any infected tissue that has built up due to chronic infection.

It is important to keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date and practice proper flea control measures as these two things can help prevent infections that lead to liver disease in dogs.


Cancer is one of the primary causes of liver disease in dogs. Liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is a type of cancer that affects the liver and can lead to further complications. This type of cancer occurs when abnormal cells rapidly grow and spread throughout the organ. There are various types and grades of liver cancer, ranging from benign to malignant tumors.

This form of liver disease can be caused by viruses, such as distemper virus and adenovirus type 2, which primarily affect young puppies. Other forms of cancer that may affect the liver include lymphoma or leukaemia and metastatic cancers (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body). Treatment typically involves surgery or chemotherapy depending on the severity and type of cancer.

Symptoms of Liver Disease

Liver disease in dogs can range from mild to severe and can cause a variety of different symptoms. Common symptoms of liver disease include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Lethargy

It is important to recognize the symptoms of liver disease in your pet, as early detection and treatment can greatly improve the outcome.


Vomiting is one of the common symptoms of liver disease in dogs. The liver helps to filter out toxins and waste products from the body, and when it fails to do so, it can lead to vomiting. When vomiting occurs as a symptom of liver disease, it usually begins with a yellow-brown substance being expelled that is commonly referred to as “coffee grounds”.

This is due to the bile that is secreted by the liver not being filtered out properly. In addition, dogs with liver disease may also experience:

  • loss of appetite
  • pale gums due to decreased ability for their livers to properly process nutrients from food.

If your pet has these signs or symptoms, it should be taken for an exam by a veterinarian immediately in order for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of liver disease in dogs. It’s caused by a number of factors, including toxins that are produced as the liver struggles to process nutrients properly. Diarrhea in dogs with liver disease typically happens more than once and can be accompanied by other signs such as loss of appetite, vomiting, and changes in urination patterns.

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, it’s important to take them to the vet for a full examination so that any underlying diseases can be identified. Treatment for diarrhea will depend on the cause, but might include medication or dietary changes to support the liver function and reduce symptoms.

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms of liver disease in dogs. As the liver becomes increasingly impaired, it loses its ability to absorb and process nutrients, resulting in a decrease in the dog’s desire for food. A loss of appetite can also cause weight loss and dehydration if left untreated.

If a pet owner notices that their dog is eating less than usual, they should take them to the vet as soon as possible for a full examination and diagnosis. Additionally, there are specific diets that are designed for dogs with liver disease that may help stimulate their appetites.

  • For example, canned foods provide more moisture than dry food, which can be more appetizing for dogs with low appetite due to liver dysfunction.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the most common symptoms of liver disease in dogs. Animals with liver disease may experience a dramatic and rapid weight loss. This is because the liver’s functions are being compromised, causing the affected animal to not properly absorb nutrients from their food. Since the body is unable to absorb these essential vitamins, fats, and proteins, it is unable to store energy and lead to a rapid weight loss situation. Additionally, this poor absorption leads to malnutrition in dogs which can also contribute to further weight loss.

To diagnose liver disease in your dog, consulting a veterinarian for regular checkups and blood tests may be recommended.

Diagnosis of Liver Disease

A diagnosis of liver disease in dogs requires a full evaluation of blood tests and imaging studies, such as radiography and ultrasound. A liver biopsy is sometimes required for a definitive diagnosis. After diagnosis, your veterinarian will recommend the best diet for your dog’s liver health, which may include specific supplements and an appropriate food.

Let’s take a look at what that diet might include:

Blood Tests

Blood tests are a common way to diagnose liver disease in dogs. These tests may measure levels of enzymes, proteins, and minerals that can indicate an underlying problem with the liver. In addition to providing information about the health of the liver, these tests can also provide other information about your dog’s overall condition such as hormone levels and red blood cell count.

For example, if a dog has a high level of bile acids in their blood, it may be an indication of liver problems. Other blood tests include albumin levels as well as creatinine and bilirubin levels – both of which can be used to detect jaundice (yellowing of the skin). Generally speaking, abnormally high or low results on these tests can point to underlying issues with the liver that must be addressed in order for your pet to remain healthy.


Ultrasound is a common imaging technique used to diagnose liver diseases in dogs. An ultrasound scan uses sound waves to create two-dimensional images of the organs inside the dog’s body. It can be used to diagnose and track the progression of liver diseases and detect potential liver tumors or abnormalities.

Ultrasound has many advantages when it comes to liver health including that it does not involve any radiation exposure, can be performed non-invasively, and is relatively inexpensive. A trained veterinarian will use an ultrasound scan and other tests to accurately diagnose a dog’s liver disease and suggest the best diet for treatment.


A biopsy is an important tool in the diagnosis of liver disease in dogs. This procedure involves the collection of liver tissue samples that are then examined to determine the type, cause, and extent of the disease present.

During a biopsy, a veterinarian will collect small pieces of liver using a fine needle or through a laparoscopic procedure. Once collected, sample tissue is usually sent to a laboratory for evaluation. The results can give veterinarians valuable insight into what is causing your pet’s liver problems, as well as how best to treat them. A diagnosis of liver disease may be made if there are any abnormalities or changes in the structure and composition of your pet’s liver tissue.

But it’s important to note that not all cases of suspected hepatobiliary disease require a biopsy; it is usually reserved for cases where other forms of testing have failed to provide clear answers about what is going on with your pet’s health.

Treatment of Liver Disease

When it comes to treating liver disease in dogs, nutrition is key. A specialized diet can help give them the nutrition they need while reducing the strain on their liver. We’ll discuss what the best diet looks like, what to avoid, and other treatment approaches.


If your dog has been diagnosed with liver disease, it is important to speak to your veterinarian about the best course of treatment. This may include both dietary changes and medications to help support the health and function of your pet’s liver.

Medications used to treat liver disease can be divided into two categories: those used to specifically treat liver disease, and those used to provide supportive care for other conditions that may be related or concurrent with the primary diagnosis of liver disease.

  • Liver-specific medications may include Denamarin, which is a combination of S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and silybin. SAMe helps to boost levels of glutathione, an important antioxidant in the body, while silybin helps protect healthy liver cells from damage caused by toxins.
  • Other medications used in treating liver disease include antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as medication that help the body absorb fat.
  • Supportive care medications are also available for other conditions such as seizure disorders or diabetes that might have been caused by or may be associated with liver disease.


Diet should be the first step taken to treat liver disease in dogs. A diet for a dog with liver disease should be low in fat and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help offset the damage being done by the disease. It should also contain lean sources of protein that are easily digestible. Dogs with liver issues should generally avoid red meat, poultry skin, gravy, fish and dairy products as these can put additional strain on the organ.

Foods such as boiled chicken or white tuna fish (without salt) should make up a major portion of the diet and can be given with cooked vegetables such as carrots or sweet potatoes for more nutrition. The food should be given several times throughout the day in small portions rather than two large meals. This will help to reduce stress on the liver from processing bigger meals all at once and also keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Vitamins and supplements may also be recommended by a veterinarian for a dog suffering from liver disease as well as medication for reducing inflammation of the organ.


Supplements can play an important role in the treatment of liver disease in dogs. Many multi-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics are beneficial for dogs in general, and may be especially helpful for dogs suffering from liver disease. In addition to providing essential nutrients, these supplements can help to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and protect the liver from future damage.

When selecting supplements for your dog with liver disease, be sure to speak with your veterinarian to ensure that they do not interact negatively with any medications your pup is taking. Popular supplements include:

  • Milk thistle (which helps reduce inflammation)
  • Dandelion root (which helps cleanse the liver)
  • Vitamin E (which helps protect cell membranes)

Additionally, some veterinarians may recommend additional specific vitamins or minerals depending on your pet’s specific needs.

The Best Diet for Dogs with Liver Disease

Diet can play an important role in managing liver diseases in dogs. A specialized diet that is balanced in proteins, carbohydrates, fat and minerals can help to reduce liver stress, support the liver and promote overall health.

Let’s look at the types of diet that can help maintain a healthy liver in dogs:

High-Quality Protein Sources

High-quality proteins are an essential part of a diet for dogs with liver disease. It is important to feed your dog high-quality proteins that are low in calorie or contain limited carbohydrate sources. These types of proteins are easily digested and help reduce the workload of the liver when metabolizing food.

Examples of high-quality protein sources are:

  • White fish, such as cod, salmon, and sardines.
  • Chicken or turkey with skin/bone removed.
  • Egg whites (cooked or raw).
  • Plain Greek yogurt.

For variety you can also rotate between different protein sources in order to keep your dog’s diet diverse and interesting but remember to always check with your vet before making dietary changes.

Low-Fat Foods

Low-fat foods are essential for dogs with liver disease. A low-fat diet helps the liver process fat, reduce inflammation, and provide the dog with essential nutrients. Some of the best sources of low-fat proteins for dogs with liver disease include skinless chicken and fish, cottage cheese, egg whites, and boiled green beans.

You should always consult your vet before changing your dog’s diet due to their medical condition. Low-fat diets may also require some adjustment to be complete, including supplements for vitamins or minerals that may be lacking due to the diet change. It’s important to pay attention to calorie count as well and be sure your pet is not consuming too much of any one nutrient while they adjust to their new diet:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Calorie Count

Low-Salt Foods

Low-Salt Foods are an important part of feeding your pet who is suffering from liver disease. The liver’s primary function is to filter out toxins from the body and salt can be toxic for the organ. Eliminating as much salt as possible from a dog’s diet can help to reduce inflammation and slow down the progression of deteriorating liver health.

Some of the best low-salt foods for dogs with liver disease are:

  • Fresh meats
  • Fish
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

Although these items may contain some salt naturally, it is much lower than processed foods and should be consumed in moderation. Also, there are some grain-free kibbles on the market that are specifically designed for dogs with certain diseases or conditions. These formulas work to minimize inflammation while providing all of the nutrition they need without harsh additives or excessive sodium.

Low-Sugar Foods

Low-sugar foods are recommended for dogs with liver disease since they have a lesser effect on the liver than high-sugar foods. Low-sugar foods also help to regulate blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and improve digestion.

The ideal diet for dogs with liver disease should include:

  • Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, and fish;
  • Complex carbohydrates like brown rice and sweet potatoes;
  • Low-fat dairy products;
  • Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Avoid feeding your dog any processed food or treats that contain added sugar, as it can be hard for the liver to process these types of foods. Additionally, limit treats as much as possible, as even healthy treats can be too high in sugar content to be beneficial for a dog with liver disease.


Diet is one of the most important aspects of life when it comes to liver disease in dogs. A healthy, low-protein diet has been found to be the optimal choice for dogs suffering from liver issues. Low-protein diets are known to reduce the stress on the liver, while at the same time providing all of the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy life. Additionally, adding supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, lactobacillus acidophilus, and other probiotics may help to maintain a balanced gut flora and promote optimal digestion.

When deciding on a diet for your dog with liver disease, it is important to consult with your veterinarian first before making any changes so that you can be sure you are providing them with all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need. Additionally, regular blood tests should be done in order to monitor how your dog is progressing. By following these steps and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your pup, you can help ensure their overall wellbeing for years to come.

FAQs about: Best Diet For Dogs With Liver Disease

Q: What is the best diet for dogs with liver disease?

A: The best diet for dogs with liver disease is low in protein, moderate in fat, and high in carbohydrates. It should also include vitamins and minerals to help the liver function properly. Avoid foods high in sodium and phosphorus, as these can be detrimental to a dog’s liver health.

Q: What types of food should I feed my dog with liver disease?

A: It is important to feed your dog a nutritionally balanced diet that is tailored to their individual needs. For dogs with liver disease, look for foods that are low in protein, moderate in fat, and high in carbohydrates. It should also include vitamins and minerals to help the liver function properly. Avoid foods high in sodium and phosphorus, as these can be detrimental to a dog’s liver health.

Q: Are there any supplements I should give my dog with liver disease?

A: Yes, certain supplements may be beneficial for dogs with liver disease. These include milk thistle, dandelion root, and SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine). Speak to your veterinarian about the best supplements for your pet, as they will be able to recommend the right products for their individual needs.

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