What Do You Feed A Dog With Liver Failure

Like so many other medical conditions in dogs, liver disease requires a special diet. A proper diet can offer your dog longevity and help them feel their best throughout the process. So what do you feed a dog with liver failure?

In this article we will go into the details of liver failure in dogs and offer you tips on what to feed your furry friend when their liver fails.

Liver Disease In Dogs

What Do You Feed A Dog With Liver Failure

Liver disease in dogs is a tricky diagnosis that can deeply impact your dog’s life. With the liver having so many important roles in metabolism and other body processes, a decline in liver function can lead to serious decline in your dog’s health.

Though the liver is an impressive organ when it comes to repairing itself, sometimes even the liver can’t bounce back from certain damage. Some of the most common factors that lead to liver failure in dogs include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Trauma to the liver
  • Endocrine diseases
  • Ingestion of toxic substances
  • Heat stroke
  • Congenital conditions
  • & more

When your dog experiences symptoms of possible liver disease, your veterinarian will likely perform a few diagnostics. Diagnostics for liver disease in dogs often include blood work, ultrasound, biopsy, and any other tests that your veterinarian finds necessary. Not only can these tests diagnose liver disease, but they can also determine the stage of your dog’s disease. 

Diet Needs For Liver Failure In Dogs

Once your dog is diagnosed with liver failure, your veterinarian will likely recommend a special diet to help prolong their life. Not only can a special diet help to control their symptoms as their disease progresses, but it can also prevent liver crisis when used in addition to therapeutic medications.

So what are the dietary needs of a dog with liver failure? An ideal therapeutic diet for dogs with liver failure includes:

  • Easily digestible and high quality protein
  • Lower protein levels than average food
  • Appropriate levels of sodium, chloride, and potassium
  • Low levels of copper
  • Antioxidants
  • High L-carnitine & L-arginine levels

Prescription Diets For Liver Failure

Now that you understand the dietary needs of dogs with liver failure, it’s time to discuss the trusted options of prescription diets. Once your veterinarian determines that your dog’s liver enzyme levels indicate a need for a diet switch, they will likely mention the diets below.

  • Hills Prescription Liver Care (Dry & Wet)
  • Royal Canin Hepatic Diet (Dry & Wet)
  • A Homemade diet that is approved by your veterinarian

Supplements For Dogs With Liver Failure

When it comes to offering your dog longevity in their liver failure diagnosis, daily supplements can offer them extra support. Though you should always talk to your vet about which supplements are safe for your furry friend, these are the ingredients you should look for in a quality liver supplement. 

  • SAMe (Adenosylmethionine)
  • Milk Thistle
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K

Since there are so many dogs that struggle with liver failure, there are many liver support treats and supplements on the market. Just be sure to check with your vet before offering any new treats.

Foods To Avoid For Dogs With Liver Failure

While each case will vary based on the stage of your dog’s liver disease, there are a few food items that you should always avoid. Since their liver can’t metabolize ingredients to the same ability as a healthy pup, there are some food items that don’t sit well with these furry friends.

Some of the food that you should avoid in a dog with liver failure include:

  • Protein high in copper such as duck, salmon, lamb, and pork
  • Food that is high in sodium
  • Low quality food that is high in fat, or any other fatty food items

Do Dogs With Liver Failure & Kidney Failure Need The Same Diet?

While there are some similarities in proper diets for dogs with liver and kidney disease, it’s not safe to lump the two together.

Kidney and liver disease have completely different effects on the body, resulting in many different dietary needs. Though both liver and kidney disease can benefit from low protein diets in the later stages, dogs with kidney failure have many different requirements that need to be met. 

For example, dogs with kidney disease require high water intake, limited phosphorus, low sodium food, and specific daily supplements. Kidney disease has such a different dietary requirement, that there are multiple lines of kidney friendly diets in veterinary grade dog food. Before assuming that dogs with liver failure have the same requirements as dogs with kidney failure, it’s best to speak with your veterinarian about the differences.  

As you can see, a dog with liver failure has different dietary needs than that of a healthy pup. Be sure to review the information we discussed above, and you can better understand your dog’s liver failure going forward. 

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