What Toxins Cause Liver Failure In Dogs

Xylitol and paracetamol are two frequently used drugs that can harm a dog’s liver. Compounds from some mushrooms and blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) can harm the liver. Some plants, especially cycads, can cause liver failure in dogs when consumed quickly.

What results in a dog’s liver failing suddenly?

The most frequent causes of acute liver failure are infectious diseases or poisons, poor perfusion of fluids into the liver and surrounding tissues, hypoxia (inability to breathe), hepatotoxic medicines or chemicals, and prolonged exposure to heat. The onset of necrosis (tissue death), loss of liver enzymes, and reduced liver function eventually result in total organ failure.

Acute liver failure can also result from widespread metabolic problems that affect glucose absorption, protein synthesis (albumin, transport protein, procoagulant and anticoagulant protein factors), and protein synthesis (albumin). This illness can cause death if it is not addressed right away.

The first step of this disorder is abnormal inflammation, which is typically treatable with medication or dietary adjustments.

Fibrosis is the second stage, which starts when the liver starts to scar and harden. When liver disease is discovered at this point or earlier, it can be treated and reversed.

The third stage, known as cirrhosis, is characterized by the liver developing irreversible scarring.

Liver failure, the fourth stage of liver illness, results in the dog’s liver’s improper operation. The major objective at this point will be to give your dog the best possible quality of life throughout their final weeks or months.

Since the liver can regenerate, if liver illness is detected early enough, dogs can recover and resume their normal, happy lives. However, in more serious cases, your dog would need more intensive care, and in the worst cases, the liver disease might potentially be too far along to be treated.

What symptoms do dogs show when their livers are toxic?

The liver is an organ that serves a variety of purposes. It can regenerate, has a substantial storage capacity, and a working reserve. These characteristics offer some defense against long-term harm. However, due to its function in metabolizing, detoxifying, and storing numerous harmful substances, the liver is also vulnerable to damage.

Loss of appetite, vomiting, stomach ulcers, diarrhea, seizures or other neurological issues, fever, blood clotting issues, jaundice (a yellow tint visible in the skin, mucous membranes, and eyes), fluid accumulation in the abdomen, excessive urination and thirst, changes in liver size, and weight loss are all indications that a dog has liver disease. Animals with liver disease may experience gastrointestinal bleeding from ulcers or issues with blood coagulation. Understanding the various causes of each of these symptoms aids the veterinarian in making a proper diagnosis and administering the necessary care.

The detection and diagnosis of liver disease can be accomplished using a range of blood tests. Your veterinarian can use x-rays and ultrasonography to measure the liver and look for abnormalities, gallstones, and gallbladder problems. To obtain samples for bacterial culture, cell and tissue examination, and, if necessary, toxicologic analysis, aspiration or biopsy methods might be utilized. To detect portosystemic shunts (see below) and other blood vessel anomalies, other, less frequent procedures such nuclear scintigraphy may occasionally be employed.

The liver, gallbladder, and pancreas of a dog

For dogs with acute liver failure, early treatment is essential. If an underlying cause is discovered, your veterinarian will recommend a specific course of action. Supportive treatment is used to delay the progression of the disease, reduce complications, and give the liver time to repair and compensate in situations of chronic or end-stage liver disease, as well as in cases of acute liver disease when no underlying cause has been found.

Dogs with liver illness are typically advised to follow a diet that contains enough calories to keep them at a healthy weight. Usually, only dogs that are at risk of developing hepatic encephalopathy need to have their protein intake restricted. Observe the particular recommendations made by your veterinarian. Perhaps feeding little, frequent meals is better. Dogs who won’t eat may need to be tube-fed.

Functions of the Liver

Detoxifies dangerous substances produced by the body (like ammonia) or ingested by the animal (such as poisons)

Vitamin K, vitamin E, and the B vitamins are examples of prescribed supplements. The common repercussions of liver illness include low potassium levels and decreasing amounts of B vitamins, and supplementation is frequently advised. In dogs with liver disease, vitamin C does not appear to get depleted, and supplementation is not advised in canines with copper storage liver disease. Sometimes, dogs with bleeding tendencies receive vitamin K injections. Because some vitamins might be hazardous in excess, heed your veterinarian’s advice when it comes to vitamin supplementation.

What substances can harm the liver?

Liver damage might result from chemicals to which you may be exposed at work. The herbicide paraquat, the plasticizer vinyl chloride, the dry cleaning solvent carbon tetrachloride, and a class of industrial chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls are examples of substances that are frequently known to induce liver damage.

What kind of poison destroys the liver?

Toxins. The deadly wild mushroom Amanita phalloides, which is occasionally mistaken for one that is safe to consume, is one of the toxins that can result in abrupt liver failure. Another poison that can cause abrupt liver failure is carbon tetrachloride.

How quickly do dogs experience liver failure?

Within 5 to 10 days after therapy, clinical symptoms, such as anorexia and lethargy, are frequently noticed, and fatality rates might reach 90%.

Can dogs develop liver illness suddenly?

Although it appears to be a basic brown mass, the liver is a fascinating and complicated organ that performs a variety of vital tasks. These consist of:

  • metabolizing carbs, lipids, and proteins
  • Keeping vital nutrients, minerals, and vitamins
  • producing digestion-supporting enzymes
  • removing poisons, including prescription drugs
  • removing toxins from the body

Due to the fact that all of the liver’s cells have the same capabilities, it also possesses a significant reserve capacity. One component of the liver can be replaced with another if it stops functioning adequately in one. In addition, given enough time and the correct conditions, the liver can repair tissue.

Types of Liver Disease

Acute and chronic liver diseases fall into two categories. Chronic liver disease develops gradually and can be brought on by a chronic illness like diabetes or cancer. Acute liver failure manifests abruptly and necessitates prompt medical care. One of the most frequent causes of acute liver failure is poisoning.


There are numerous potential causes of liver disease, including:

  • bacterial or viral infection
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (hepatocellular carcinoma)
  • Gallstones or cysts may block the bile duct.
  • Diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or hyperthyroidism are endocrine disorders.
  • hepatic damage brought on by an incident or heatstroke
  • taking a harmful chemical in

Congenital disorders can potentially result in liver disease. Breeds including Yorkshire Terriers, Schnauzers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, and German Shepherds, for example, are prone to copper storage disease, in which copper accumulates in the liver and harms the organ. A genetic disorder called hepatic shunt, which alters the blood flow in the liver, can also be present at birth in puppies.

Do dogs with liver dysfunction experience pain?

  • production of bile, which helps the body absorb certain vitamins and lipids
  • the body’s main sugar (glucose) is stored as glycogen and released into the bloodstream when necessary.
  • Toxic compounds, such as chemicals and some drugs, are neutralized and broken down in preparation for subsequent disposal in the bile or by the kidneys in the urine.

Long-term liver damage results in chronic liver failure, which is a malfunctioning liver. Chronic exposure to chemicals, heavy metals (copper, iron, and zinc), chronic infections, chronic inflammation/irritation, cancer, abnormalities of the blood vessels, immunological disorders, and feline fatty liver syndrome are some of the things that might cause it.

Contrary to other organs like the kidneys, the liver is excellent at self-regeneration; yet, severe, persistent damage can result in chronic liver failure, a long-term breakdown of the liver’s function. Before liver failure develops, the liver normally has about 75% of its tissue destroyed. A failing liver can manifest as a neurological issue since the liver is responsible for removing many poisons, including those that have an impact on mental abilities (falling over, stupor, fits etc.).

Blood tests are used to diagnose liver failure. In some circumstances, further tests like CT scans, blood and urine cultures, urine cultures, and ultrasound scans may be necessary. Samples of the liver may be taken using a needle inserted into the liver while being guided by an ultrasound scan, keyhole surgery (laparoscopy), or a full surgical procedure. Samples of the liver are frequently needed to determine the cause of liver failure.

If biopsies are necessary, a variety of parameters that will be explained will determine the approach that is used. When a patient’s condition is being investigated, it’s possible that the original cause of the issue is no longer there, but the disease itself may still be causing symptoms and liver damage.

  • diminished appetite
  • Lethargy
  • heightened thirst
  • Unusual behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Symptoms of diarrhea may include black, tarry, or even bloody feces.
  • stomach bloating as a result of fluid retention
  • Yellow urine, gums, and skin (jaundice)
  • Loss of weight

A multimodal strategy is needed to treat chronic liver failure, including dietary changes, drug prescriptions, and increased physical activity. Sometimes an underlying cause is found during diagnostics, allowing tailored therapy to remove the initial cause (e.g. toxins, infections, cancer etc.). In other cases, this is not possible, and the liver’s remaining functions are supported as part of the therapy. Although liver illness is not unpleasant, dogs and cats can experience neurological symptoms, nausea, or fluid buildup in the belly, all of which must be treated with medication.

Chronic liver failure may require the following treatments:

  • Dietary changes that increase calories, cut down on protein, or remove minerals or poisons that the liver typically digests. Sometimes, especially when there are additional medical issues, our specialist nutritionist will recommend and create a custom diet for the patient.
  • If the liver’s production of proteins drops drastically, fluid may build up in the abdomen and need to be drained to keep the patient comfortable.
  • Antacids to prevent gastrointestinal ulcers, nausea medicines, and treatment for diarrhea are all examples of supportive therapy for gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Specific drugs are used in dogs with neurological symptoms brought on by hepatic encephalopathy to lower the level of neurotoxins in the blood.
  • All liver failure sufferers receive general supportive therapy, which includes oxidants and other organic supplements to support liver functioning.
  • For some patients with underlying conditions, specialized treatments are required, such as copper-binding medications for canines with copper-associated hepatitis.

Treatment for chronic liver failure might be difficult. When the damage is not too serious, early intervention and aggressive treatment can be effective. Liver transplants are not currently offered in veterinary medicine.

If your pet develops chronic liver failure, the various treatment choices will be thoroughly explored, and guidance will be provided to help you decide what kind of care you want to give your pet. Our Specialists heavily rely on an owner’s description of a pet’s development at home, including appetite, weight, and overall form, in the long-term care of patients with chronic liver disease. The main goal of therapy in these circumstances is to ensure an adequate quality of life.