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Acute Liver Failure in Pets: Signs and Seeking Immediate Care

A white dog with black spots who has a bandage around its arm.

The liver is a vital organ responsible for numerous essential functions in a pet’s body, including detoxification, metabolism, and nutrient storage. However, when the liver experiences sudden and severe dysfunction, it leads to a condition known as acute liver failure, posing a significant threat to the pet’s health and well-being. This condition can develop rapidly and requires immediate attention to prevent further complications. In this blog post, we will explore the signs, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for acute liver failure in pets, emphasizing the importance of early detection and prompt veterinary care in ensuring the best possible outcome for our furry companions.

Symptoms & Causes of Acute Liver Failure in Pets

Recognizing the signs of acute liver failure is vital for pet owners. Symptoms may manifest as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), vomiting, lethargy, seizures, loss of appetite, and abdominal swelling. Acute liver failure can have various underlying causes, including exposure to toxins such as certain medications, plants (like blue-green algae), and chemicals (such as pesticides). Infections, metabolic disorders (like diabetes), and genetic predispositions can also contribute to liver failure.

Diagnosing acute liver failure involves a comprehensive evaluation by a veterinarian. This typically includes a thorough physical examination, blood tests to assess liver enzymes and bilirubin levels, as well as imaging tests like ultrasound or X-rays to visualize the liver’s condition. Additionally, liver function tests may be conducted to determine the extent of liver damage. Treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the condition but may include hospitalization for intensive care, administration of intravenous fluids to maintain hydration and support liver function, medications to manage symptoms and address underlying causes, detoxification procedures to remove toxins from the body, and dietary adjustments to support liver health.