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Acute Inflammation And Liver Failure In Dog / Cat: Symptoms And Treatment

Inflammation and liver failure in a dog

Acute hepatitis and liver failure it is a dangerous condition that threatens the life of the animal.

Every living organism, including the dog and cat, of course, is actually a very complex biological "machinery" in which countless metabolic processes that determine health, manifested in the maintenance of homeostasis, take place every second of life.

In order for everything to be done properly, i.e. our dog and cat to be really healthy, all organs must work efficiently and cooperate with each other.

The situation when one of them suddenly becomes damaged, which prevents him from performing his functions should always be of great concern to us due to the serious, life-threatening consequences.

As we all know well, there are organs without which one can live (e.g. spleen) and necessary for the functioning of the system.

Of course, they often have enormous regenerative abilities in nature or they are double (for example kidneys), which is a kind of security for the future, conditioning their longer functioning.

However, we must remember that all emerging emergencies are associated with a huge disturbance of the balance of the system and therefore require not only quick diagnostics but also intensive therapeutic treatment, which increases the chances of survival.

I am writing about all of this in context acute liver failure, to bring the reader closer to this extremely important, not uncommon clinical problem.

The liver, as I have already mentioned, is an organ necessary for life and cannot replace its function by delegating its tasks to another organ.

Therefore, let us consider the problem of acute liver failure, its causative factors, symptoms, diagnostics and possible therapeutic management.

  • What is the liver for?
  • Causes of liver damage and failure
  • Liver failure symptoms
  • Diagnosis of acute liver damage
  • Treatment of liver failure

What is the liver for?

Liver (pour. iecur gr. hepar) is the largest gland in the organism of dogs and cats, with a very different weight and size depending largely on their breed affiliation.

It is a multifunctional gland that is an extremely important part of the digestive system, without which no dog's or cat's body can function.

It belongs to the organs absolutely necessary and necessary for life, and its experimental removal always ends in death.

It performs various metabolic processes, which only proves its extremely important importance.

We could simply define acute liver failure as a condition when suddenly all these functions of the organ cease to be performed or are significantly impaired.

No other organ is able to take over its functions and work "as a substitute ".

Acute liver failure (insufficientia hepatis acuta) will occur whenever it is damaged for various reasons more than 80% of the organ parenchyma so there will be only approx 20% of active hepatocytes that is, liver cells.

The importance of this disease is evidenced by the fact that acute, extensive organ damage associated with significant damage to the liver cells leads to the death of the animal within a few days (usually 3-4 days).

Acute hepatitis will be associated with an inflammatory reaction and accompanying swelling.

It can occur with acute pancreatitis, which greatly complicates the prognosis.

Causes of liver damage and failure

The causes of liver failure

There are a whole host of substances and factors that seriously damage the liver cells.

Necrosis and irreversible damage can be caused by:

  • anxieties,
  • bacterial toxins,
  • fungal toxins (aflatoxins).

If the factor causing the gradual, slow destruction of hepatocytes takes longer, it leads to chronic inflammation which then progresses to cirrhosis.

We must also remember that liver damage may result from a phenomenon idiosyncrasy that is, "increased reaction of the organism to a specific chemical ", which will not occur in another individual.

What's worse, we never know how the body will react until we give the drug.

Liver damaging factors are definitely there heavy metals, headed by:

  • lead,
  • mercury,
  • arsenic,
  • selenium,
  • copper,
  • with iron.

It is obvious that such damage occurs as a result of poisoning and, for example, eating an old-type thermometer containing mercury.

Often there are also poisoning with other chemical compounds, often commonly available in our households, containing:

  • pesticides,
  • herbicides,
  • solvents,
  • biphenols,
  • naphthalenes,
  • phosphorus.

The universality of these compounds available in the open trade is really large and they pose a deadly threat to our pets.

Let us also remember about the toxic effects of certain drugs.

Some of them may be particularly dangerous when used by analogy in animals, according to the principle that if they do not harm people, they must be safe for animals as well.

A perfect example of this can be paracetamol, available everywhere without a prescription as a miracle cure for any aches and pains.

However, we must not forget about the different metabolism in the liver of the dog or cat of the same substance used in humans.

Hence, we should not self-administer human medications to animals without the consultation and explicit recommendation of a veterinarian.

Even in human medicine drug-induced liver injury accounts for a huge number of cases of liver damage.

All the more so for our pupils, be careful about the use of:

  • potentiated sulfonamides,
  • ketoconazole,
  • mebendazole,
  • tetracycline antibiotics,
  • antiepileptic drugs.

It is extremely dangerous and lethal to the liver poisoning with fungal toxins that is aflatoxins, which can occur in spoiled food, moldy karma.

Liver necrosis and its degeneration can also cause bacterial toxins absorbed from the intestines of sick animals.

Besides, not only this way can lead to organ failure, but also direct bacterial or viral infections can damage the liver.

In dogs, it will be a pathogenic factor adenovirus impressive infectious hepatitis, and in cats infectious peritonitis caused by mutant coronaviruses.

Fortunately, bacterial background infections are not very common, but absolutely must not be forgotten.

We should always remember about leptospira bacteria calling leptospirosis, salmonellosis or Clostridium spp. and Bacillus pisiformis.

Acute liver failure is a problem that can affect animals of any age group, regardless of gender or race.

Young animals, puppies are obviously more exposed to infectious diseases (especially in the absence of appropriate prevention) or poisoning caused by eating something toxic.

They are more common in older animals neoplastic processes.

Liver failure symptoms

Liver failure symptoms

Many pet owners may be surprised, but the clinical symptoms associated with liver disease may not be specific and may be misleading.

It is not always known to all and commonly associated with the liver jaundice.

Often, the first symptom will be symptoms related to the gastrointestinal tract, that is:

  • sudden loss of appetite,
  • apathy,
  • weakness,
  • diarrhea,
  • vomiting.

Confusingly, such symptoms are common and practically always present in almost every gastrointestinal disease.

Therefore, an accurate diagnosis cannot be made on their basis.

An attentive caregiver will observe from time to time periods of increased thirst and polyuria.

In cases of liver damage occurring very suddenly at first glance, drastic neurological symptoms will appear, such as:

  • blindness,
  • seizures,
  • disturbance of consciousness with tetanus.

In most cases, however, we will not observe such severe symptoms, but only disturbances of consciousness leading to dementia, lethargy or changes in the behavior of the pet.

The color of urine may change and become dark yellow or even Brown which can confuse us and direct diagnostics towards, for example, some parasitic diseases (e.g. babesiosis).

By the way, I would like to add that with the mentioned tick-borne babesiosis, liver damage often occurs.

A more characteristic symptom of liver failure may be the jaundice already mentioned, which appears after 12-24 hours from organ damage.

Dogs and cats with acute liver damage also have blood coagulation disorders which works dark, tarry-colored faeces.

Symptoms gastrointestinal ulcers, which often accompany liver damage can be abdominal pain and affection as manifested by the animal's defense reactions during the test.

Diagnosis of acute liver damage

Diagnosis of acute liver damage

As already mentioned, the clinical symptoms accompanying acute liver failure are not very characteristic and it is impossible to make an accurate diagnosis on the basis of them.

So what to base on and what is reliable?

The liver, as we all know, is involved in numerous metabolic processes, hence it should not surprise anyone that additional, laboratory tests will play a decisive role in the diagnostic process.

Any patient with nonspecific clinical symptoms should, above all, be thoroughly investigated.

By writing this I mean a detailed clinical interview, medical examination and basic blood test with complete blood count and biochemistry at the forefront.

Only later do we move on to detailed research focused on a given disease.

In acute liver failure, we will observe a significant increase in activity:

  • liver enzymes, i.e. ALT and AST transaminases,
  • alkaline phosphatase (AP),
  • GGT (gamma-glutamyl transferase).

When ALT and AST levels rise very significantly this may be an indication damage to the liver parenchyma, in contrast to the increase in GGT and AP, which rather indicate damage to the biliary system and stagnation of bile.

Often, however, with a significant degree of liver damage, all liver enzymes grow, which indicates the general effect of toxic agents that destroy the entire liver and, unfortunately, extensive damage to it.

Other systemic disorders also occur in acute liver injury.

One of them is disorder in blood clotting because that is what takes place in the liver synthesis of coagulation factors.

This will result in gastrointestinal bleeding and the appearance of tarry stools.

In the laboratory, this will translate into increase in thrombin time (PT) and koalin-kephalin time (APTT).

These are the parameters that characterize the blood clotting process.

In more advanced cases, we can observe the symptoms characteristic of hepatic encephalopathy which will be expressed in the research increase in ammonia levels.

We can also do a urine test, which for many seems to be seemingly completely unrelated to the liver.

Well, you can even detect in it ammonium urate crystals, which may point to portal collateral anastomosis, and cystine crystals and tyrosine point us to acute toxic liver injury.

Finally, it is worth carrying out imaging tests With ultrasound at the forefront.

This study will assess:

  • organ size and structure,
  • echogenicity,
  • the presence of focal anomalies,
  • condition of the ducts and gallbladder,
  • course of the veins and vessels of the liver.

It can also be of great help when exercising biopsy that is, downloading the snip to histopathological examination.

Sometimes it is necessary to perform a puncture in the abdominal cavity to find fluid in the peritoneal cavity.

Although it can be visualized on ultrasound, it is not always successful, hence the need to perform the puncture.

Of course, each time you can perform other tests, not limited to those listed, which is probably the best decision by the attending physician.

Treatment of liver failure

Treatment of liver failure

As I wrote before, there is acute liver failure life-threatening condition and therefore requires very intensive, quick and specific medical help, i.e. very special care.

Our actions at the time of organ failure are to create the best conditions for liver regeneration and allow it to survive until the diseased organ begins to perform its physiological tasks.

So many theories, as it is not always possible to do it and many animals, unfortunately, die earlier

We should first eliminate all damaging factors, i.e. causing failure.

It is not always possible because it involves their exact identification, recognition, i.e. naming everything that causes damage.

Only then do we create the most optimal conditions for organ regeneration and prevent complications.

We often carry out both activities in parallel.

Sometimes we can use causal treatment aimed at the damaging factor.

This is the case, for example, in leptospirosis (appropriate antibiotic) or paracetamol poisoning when can we order detoxification acetylcysteine.

A patient with acute organ failure must be properly hydrated using for this purpose NaCl with 5% glucose and addition potassium chloride.

Proper hydration of the animal:

  • dilutes the toxins that damage the liver,
  • ensures adequate microcirculation,
  • reduces the risk of shock,
  • reduces the risk of disseminated intravascular coagulation,
  • reduces the risk of kidney failure.

Administering glucose prevents the onset of a life-threatening condition hypoglycemia.

Most drugs should be administered intravenously.

We avoid anticonvulsants, which metabolized in the liver additionally burden it and force it to work intensively.

Giving lacticosis and orally antibiotic (e.g. neomycin) we reduce the amount of produced ammonia, which minimizes the risk of hepatic encephalopathy.

Ulcers in the stomach and intestines we counteract with drugs H2 receptor inhibitors that is ranitidine, famotidine or omeprazole in standard doses.

Supplementation is also recommended vitamin K in dose up to 20 mg i.m. 2 times a day.

We should also supplement the level B vitamins giving them, for example, in an available preparation Combivit.

We also use antibiotics in general, safe for the liver, an example of which can be:

  • amoxicillin (12-20 mg / kg twice a day),
  • enrofloxacin (5-10 mg / kg 1-2 times a day),
  • metronidazole (10 mg / kg i.v. 2-3 times a day).

Administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics is designed to fight bacteria that enter the liver from the intestines and cause sepsis.

Animals suffering from acute liver failure are often in a very bad general condition and have impaired consciousness (coma) and therefore require very careful nursing care.

So we have to make sure to change their arrangement from time to time, which will prevent the formation of bedsores.

The conjunctiva should be artificially moistened by giving a preparation that replaces tears.

We also check if the animal produces urine correctly (sometimes catheterization is necessary) and we do not allow it to lie on a wet surface.

There is a risk when animals vomit greedy pneumonia as a complication after gastric acid enters the respiratory tract, hence the need to properly position the animal with its head slightly lowered.


Do not allow liver failure to develop, it is a deadly condition

Acute liver damage is always an extremely dangerous and dangerous condition that results in very serious consequences, including fatalities.

In each case, it requires intensive medical treatment, which increases the chances of recovery and cure.

It is best to never allow its development through reasonable use of prophylaxis.

Therefore, we prevent animals from accessing all medicines and plant protection products, eliminating the risk of poisoning.

We do not treat even minor disease symptoms on our own and we always go to the veterinarian in the event of gastrointestinal disorders.

Because quick diagnostics allows you to introduce faster and more accurate treatment, which increases the chances of final success.

It is impossible to live without a healthy liver, so let's do everything so that it never gets sick, which I sincerely wish you all.

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