Feeding the Dog with Liver Disease

In some instances, a change in diet will slow the progression of the illness.

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“A lot of owners want to change their dog’s diet if they see any signs” that something’s not right with the liver, says Tufts veterinary nutritionist Cailin Heinze, VMD, DACVM. “But a change in liver enzyme values on blood work does not necessarily mean that a dietary change is appropriate.” Indeed, there are only two main instances where dietary change has been shown to be beneficial for liver disease.

When the liver disease is severe and the dog has protein intolerance

One of the two reasons to change a dog’s diet in the event that she has liver disease is that the disease has become severe, meaning the dog has essentially gone into liver failure and that organ is no longer able to do what it’s supposed to — filter toxins from body tissues and serve as the “control panel” for metabolism.

Some dogs with advanced liver disease can show signs of “hepatic encephalopathy,” which basically means a problem with the brain related to the liver. They include the dog’s walking as if she is drunk, feeling really sleepy after meals — “kind of spacy or zoned out,” Dr. Heinze says — seizures, and staring at the wall or even pressing her head into the wall.

If you see any of those signs, it’s obviously an emergency, and the dog has to be evaluated right away. Frequently, a liver biopsy will be necessary to assess the exact nature of the situation as well as the extent of disease.

These concerning signs appear because the liver is less and less able to metabolize protein properly. Normally, the liver breaks down the amino acid building blocks of protein to separate out the nitrogen they contain. This process produces ammonia, which is eventually excreted in the urine as urea. But if the liver substantially loses its ability to function normally, the ammonia remains in the bloodstream with other toxins, and that’s what causes all the neurological issues.

“We can adjust the diet to help reduce the levels of some of those toxins,” Dr. Heinze says, “and one of the ways that we do that is by reducing the total amount of protein in the diet. Every dog has a minimum amount of protein she has to ingest to have normal body function. But in dogs with really severe liver disease, if you give them a lot more than they need, you’re fueling the fire.”

The type of protein counts, too. “Certain types of protein seem to cause worse issues,” comments Dr. Heinze. “Things like organ meats and fish contain higher levels of certain compounds (purines, some of the amino acids) that can be particularly harmful for dogs with bad liver disease. Many do better on plant-based protein or egg- and dairy-based proteins, both because of differences in the amino acid composition and differences in the tissues that the protein is coming from.”

Fortunately, there are therapeutic diets for dogs available by prescription from veterinarians that provide the right kinds of protein in the right amounts. These products are generally egg or soy-based. Owners needn’t worry about the quality of the protein. Both eggs and soy contain high-quality proteins that will provide the necessary nutrition at the same time that they prove more gentle to a failing liver.

Even so, pet owners should note that for a dog in the later stages of disease, there’s a lot of trial and error. “The amount of protein that is tolerated is individual to the patient,” Dr. Heinze says. “How much protein is tolerated depends on the degree of disease, what’s causing it, and also the medications the pet is on.” The aim is to maintain blood protein levels in the normal range and to feed the highest level of protein that is tolerated without causing abnormal blood ammonia or clinical signs. Diet is typically not used alone, however. Medications are frequently used along with diet to improve a dog’s protein tolerance. The combination is what will help control the clinical symptoms.

It is important to stress that most dogs who have problems with the liver based solely on increased liver enzyme levels on bloodwork have reasonably normal overall liver function and do not show signs of hepatic encephalopathy. For dogs with no clinical signs, such as a dog who had increased liver enzyme levels on a blood panel taken before going under anesthesia for something routine like dental work, no dietary change is indicated. Typically the abnormal values are monitored, and if they continue to fall outside the normal range, a biopsy is likely called for to understand the nature of the liver problem.

To emphasize the point, dietary modification using a veterinary therapeutic diet will likely not help a dog with mildly elevated liver enzymes (which can very well go back to normal on their own) or even with mid-stage liver disease. The disease has to be quite far along for a special low-protein diet to have a beneficial effect. The evidence is simply not there to change a dog’s diet in the case of mild or even moderate liver problems.

Excess copper in the liver

The other reason to change the diet of a dog with liver disease is if the disease is caused by an excess copper build-up. Over time, if a dog is unable to clear excess copper from her liver (it is a genetic condition in some breeds such as Bedlington terriers), it damages the liver cells, and she can develop severe liver disease and even liver failure. As with liver disease in general, a biopsy may be performed even if the dog seems fine if blood liver enzymes are found on a routine exam to be much higher than they should be and do not improve with conservative treatment. If it’s found via biopsy that excess copper in the liver is the problem, dietary changes should be instituted immediately — you don’t want to wait for the dog to reach the point of liver failure to make a difference. Dogs with excess copper in their liver can act completely normally, be mildly sick, or even go into full-blown acute liver failure, depending on the severity of the copper accumulation and how long it has taken to build up.

Once copper toxicity is identified as the problem, medications are administered to help remove the excess from the liver. Instituting a low-copper diet is a complementary measure to help prevent further copper build-up. How do you find one?

The same low-protein therapeutic diets prescribed by veterinarians for dogs with severe liver disease are also low in copper. “It’s kind of one size fits all,” Dr. Heinze says.

The problem, however, is that one size doesn’t always fit all very well. “The challenge,” says Dr. Heinze, “is that many dogs with too much copper don’t need a low-protein diet because their livers aren’t that bad off. If what’s available commercially is not a good fit for the dog, I may recommend carefully adding protein to a therapeutic liver diet or recommend a home-cooked diet for which I’ll provide a specific recipe,” that is, higher in protein but low in copper. Alternatively, there may be non-liver focused commercial diets that are lower, but not the lowest, in copper that might work for a specific dog.

High-copper foods tend to be red meats and organ meats like liver. A lower-copper diet might contain, for example, chicken instead of beef. “We assess the individual patient,” Dr. Heinze says. “The hope is that the liver wasn’t so damaged by the copper that it can’t regenerate. Liver tissue can regenerate to a significant degree if the liver as a whole isn’t too far gone.”

Like for protein, a veterinary nutritionist may alter the copper intake to suit the individual dog — an important point because strictly speaking, the therapeutic low-copper foods available for dogs are so low in that mineral that they could theoretically make a pet deficient in copper, particularly if they are used for long periods of time along with copper-reducing medications. You have to look at the situation in front of you. “Imagine a 2-year-old dog with too much liver copper showing signs of clinical disease who has been eating a lower-copper diet already,” Dr. Heinze says. “Compare that to a dog who at age 10 is diagnosed with excess liver copper and has been eating a high-copper diet her whole life but has no clinical signs. The 2-year-old will have built up her copper levels much more quickly and will need more severe copper restriction, and copper-reducing medications as well.”

93 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the information, our 3 year old Labrador just had a biopsy of the liver and they think he may have copper storage disease.

  2. My, soon to be 16 year old, male Schipperke has been living with liver disease for the last 7 years. He came to us as a 9-year old rescue who had been in a shelter for about 2 years. The rescue group that brought Diggum into their fold treated him for advanced dental disease. The dental infection traveled to his liver. No amount of antibiotics cured his liver. With the blessing of my vet, I put him on a homemade diet along with two supplements daily. Diggum chases rabbits and squirrels, jumps up onto and down off of the furniture. and several times a week goes for a 1-1/2 mile walk. The onle evidence of his being ill is a thinning coat. My recipe: 4# red-skinned potatoes, 4# sweet potatoes, 4# fresh zucchini, 1# green beans 4# cod, all boiled and blended together. (This recipe feeds hime 2/3 c of food 3 times a day for 2 weeks.)

    • Hi Mariann. Has your boy had his liver enzymes retested? My 11yr old girl has had liver disease for 2 yrs and recent results have come back higher (1400 ALP 300ALT) keen to try your home cooked plan

      • Hi Jo, How’s your baby doing? My 12.5 year old lab was diagnosed with elevated liver enzymes (1000). The first vet said to out him down as he had no quality of life left. Other vet told me to keep feeding as I have been (oatmeal, chicken, egg, sweet potatoes/dinner) (rice, turkey, pumpkin/lunch), along with supplements (milk thistle, SAMee, liver pills). He is now 12.9 and seems to be doing better?! My heart goes out to all doggie parents who have to go through this with their animals. I hope my little man makes it for another year or 2.

        • Hi Peg,
          My 16 year lab has high liver enzymes also. Vet put her on denamarin. She tested last year and enzymes were off the charts but came back down with the meds. Once again they were elevated but not as high.. i just can’t get her to eat dry kibble. I have tried many brands. Vet did not recommend any diet. We take her for a 30 day recheck in a week. How much do you give your dog on either diet you make. My dog weighs about 93 lbs.
          Thank you in advance.
          Paula

    • My Schipperke 13 years old liver enzymes so high they are unreadable. She had a bad dental infection 2 years ok and had to have 32 teeth pulled. She came from a horrible person and I rescued her. Now 2 years later her liver enzymes are so high the lab can’t even read them. What supplements are you giving your Schipperke.

      • Hello I have 14yr old beagle with high liver levels and she has pancritist I hade a altrasound aspiration done and it came out UNCONCLUSIVE I wanted to know if she had cancer .She had been in the hospital for 4 days thinking she had a gallbladder infection on Ivs of antibiotics they said they seen sluggish stuff in that her pancreas was still inflamed .She has lost 6 pounds in 20 days from the first time she was in the hospital for a day in a half and she was home for a week and eating and then no appreciate so I brought her back she was home for three days maybe hate a hand full of food tried everything even her favorite stuff may friend told me about this food called Dr Marty’s I gave it to her she loved it it was like candy and she was back to her self .I took her to doctors the next day she was happy and her self they did blood work and it had got worse from 3 days prior.Dr Marty’s is a freeze dried food but it has 37 percent protein. And I do not know if that is bad.But that is the only thing she will eat.Theyvtold me the only way to find out if she has pancreatic cancer is if they do surgery and if she does not something else is wrong .I am having a hard time.I know the right thing to do is put her to sleep but I do not know when she is not in any pain and we went to the park today and had a great day .

        • As long as she is comfortable and not in pain keep her at home and spoil the heck out of her❤️ Have you tried feeding her human chicken and rice or oatmeal? I also read that canned pumpkin is good. Make sure she gets plenty of liquids too. My prayers are with you and your baby❤️‍🩹🙏🏼

    • Hi, is the liver disease such as Cushionings? My Shih Tzu has been diagnosed with Cushionings and I’m at a loss what to feed him. He’s picky and lately hasn’t been acting himself. I do have to get him to the vet again soon

    • Hi Mariann,

      Thank you for sharing your recipe. My dog’s vet thinks he has vestibular or brain tumor: however, he keeps getting better then has another episode of confusion, pacing, and what looks like hallucinations. He was previously diagnosed with pancreatitis which could cause serious liver problems. I would love nothing more than to help him. My question is the green beans. You stated 1. One as in one pack or one piece. I know its probably a stupid question but i don’t want to give him too much and inadvertently hurt his liver.

      Any insight is appreciated.

      Thank you!

      • i believe what her recipes says is one pound green beans to 4 pounds each of cod, sweet potatoes, red skin potatoes, zucchini. i could also be mistaken, but the hashtag symbol in cooking or medicine indicates a pound. which makes sense in this instance as the total amount fed in a day is 6/3 cup or 1.5 cups total per day over 14 days. still….that seems like an awful lot of ingredients at first glance….hmmmm. perhaps the hashtag is indicating cups of each ingredient? yes, confusing.

        • Not confusing for those of us who are old enough to have used # as the pound symbol (or even number symbol) long before it was used as hashtag.
          In a recipe it means pound.
          In a sequence it means number: #1, #2, etc.
          hashtag: #versatlelittlebugger

      • Hi Iva,
        Has your vet checked for a liver shunt? My dog also had bouts of confusion, due to high ammonia levels. Best wishes

        • Have you had a dog with this condition? I have a 6 year old maltese chihuahua mix that is experiencing severe liver damage. No jaundice but is elevating in other symptoms. Confusion, lethargy, ascites, loss of appetite (thought I had that one fixed with homemade diet) and my vet and two specialists haven’t determined the underlying cause. Is a liver shunt easily identifiable? Are the symptoms the same?
          Thx.

    • MaryAnn, thank you for this Recipe. My 17-year-old Shihtzu is having an ultrasound Thursday for high liver Enzymes. Hopefully all serious things will be ruled out and we can treat with a diet. However, her age is also a complication.

  3. My 9.5-year-old, 170-pound Labradoodle was diagnosed with copper storage disease last summer. He has been on a low-dose of Penicillamine and on the only two prescription diet liver foods, which he now just hates. HIs last liver values were not good, in fact, worse than previous levels, so we have doubled the dose of Penicillamine to 350 mg two times per day on an empty stomach plus Denamarin. We will test again this week after the new dose for a month. My question is what can we give him to eat to entice him? He is now just refusing the two prescription kibble and canned foods. I would appreciate any other suggestions you have.
    Thank you!!

    • Hi
      We are in the same boat as you described. My doberman was diagnosed with copper storage disease in May. He’s on Penicillamine 2 times a day plus Denamarin at 5 am on empty stomach and my vet added urdisol twice a day. He’s on his third round of penicillamine and his numbers went up again. I feel like we are losing the battle. We have no vets that specialize in copper storage i’m on my third vet. I’ve reached out to a nutritionist from “just food for dogs” He has little interest in eating and it’s hard to keep weight on him. When we give him his medication it almost immediately makes him gag in upchuck. How’s things going at your house any better?

      • I also have a Doberman with copper storage disease. He is on penicillamine, denamarin and ursodiol. He eats a homemade diet prescribed by a vet nutritionist because he wouldn’t eat the commercial food. He is also taking cyclosporine for inflammation. His liver values are improving.

        • Hi Cheryl , you don’t know me. However I have read your article in tuftsyourdog.com . We have a golden retriever that has Hepatitis, recently in the last week she will not eat her hepatic royal canine dog food, but prefers human food. Whilst I am more than happy to prepare human food for her. It would be a big help if i could find a human/ dog recipe , that I could give her easily and know she was eating the right food for her condition. If you wouldn’t mind , please could you forward the recipe that you give to your dog. Many thanks in advance. King regard Ruth Silvera

      • Hi Cheryl,
        I am not sure if this might help, my dog has liver problems and she is on denamarian advanced and standard process brand hepatic support, with these two products our levels are down. Good luck!!!

    • Oh wow!! My dog has decided for about the last year that she does not want to eat her food either. My dog is 16 and she has liver problems. She was diagnosed about five years ago and has been on standard process brand canine hepatic support which is a powder and she hates it. She has also been on denamarin advanced for several years and kan herbs brand benefits hips and knees as well as carprofen. I had been adding three of these medications to her food but for the last year she has decided she wants to be picky eater now. I have tried everything, I have tried freeze dried toppings, I have tried human food toppings, I have tried feeding her better kibble, she is now on Fromm brand grain free and still gives me problems. The problem is the standard process powder she does not like it. The only thing that I have found that will mask the smell or taste is New Zealand green lamb tripe but she has now decided she is still not happy. I am now at the point where I am going to either have to cook her homemade food or buy it from the pet store. I recently found this brand called Just food for dogs. I have no idea anything about the company yet but I thought I would let you know about it and the lamb tripe as maybe it could help you out. The freeze dried products from stella and chewy seem to work sometimes as a topper. Good luck!!! there is one more product but I cant remember what it was , I am thinking it was maybe fermented fish or something, we purchased it at a boutique pet store not at a retail chain. my dog loved it, it masked the smell of the medication but I cant remember the brand or what exactly it was. It smelled horrific through, stunk up the whole refrigerator we stopped using it because of that reason but I may have to find it again.

        • I agree and believe this is why my poodle has liver disease. She had an knee ligament injury and was on it for nearly a year. After a few months we went every other day.

        • Also, wouldn’t tripe be problematic?? The article stated some severe liver patients need low protein and/or copper while organ meat contains high levels of both.

          • The # sign coming AFTER the numerical number itself indicates pounds, so it would be 4 pounds of Sweet Potatoes.
            If it were the quantity, as in 4 Sweet Potatoes, the # sign would come BEFORE the numerical number, so it would be # 4 Sweet Potatoes.
            It is confusing, because the # sign is rarely used anymore. Usually it’s referred to as lbs.

        • My vet said previcox could be the reason for my dogs elevated liver enzyme torn ligament cut back on previcox giving denamarin low protein diet

  4. You may try just food for dogs hepatic food. It is fresh frozen food. My dog does not like to eat the prescription canned or dry foods for liver support but will eat the just food for dogs hepatic Food which is low in copper . This food seams similar to the homemade recipe mentioned earlier.

    • HI Syd, I just contacted Just food for dogs today. I’m really hoping My Rico likes this food. He seems to like a certain food for a couple days then shuts down again.

  5. Hello, my 13 yr. old blue healer just came back from the vet yesterday after having blood work done & the vet said her blood work looked gorgeous. However, her belly is kind of pot bellied these days & he thought she might have liver or spleen cancer & prescribed her Prednisone 10 mg. for the rest of her life.

    I plan on researching to find a good homemade diet for her, & I greatly appreciate the article however, I have a question

    If it’s true that she has liver disease, from what I’ve read, wouldn’t this medicine be taxing on her liver.

    • Our 5 year old dog Rooney has liver disease. They say the liver doesn’t process copper out of his system.
      It seems the same medicine is given..its like all the dogs are in the same box. The one medicine is hard on the stomach. We were given medicine for nausea too.
      We were told..sweet potatoes are bad…red meats….not too much…..cooked chicken mashed potatoes or rice a vegetable, homemade baked oatmeal applesauce no sugar cookies, check the copper levels in all the foods. Also, what about the “Drinking Water” Distilled water i think is best..the chemicals they put in water may not be good. I hope i helped a little.

    • Hi Gayle,
      Has your pup had lab work done for Cushing’s disease?
      A pot belly is a classic symptom of it.
      Did he suggest an abdominal ultrasound?

      • My dog developed a pot belly and had started choking when trying to eat. Took her to an emergency vet when she couldn’t eat due to choking. She had been panting excessively for quite a while and took her to two vets previously to see why. They were not concerned and explained that dogs pant to cool down (which pet owners already know) and since we live in Arizona it’s expected. She was an inside dog and we never left her outside in the heat. Short story made long, the emergency vet did x-rays and blood tests. She had advanced lung cancer (and no, we don’t smoke). We had to put her down. Best dog I’ve ever had. She was a Black Lab mix.

    • My vet said steroids are the worst for any baby who has liver issues. They won’t give Chopper them anymore for allergies or anything.

  6. My 11 yr-old black lab mix (rescued as puppy) was found with high copper values after blood diagnostic prep for dental 5 yrs ago.. She was put on Penicillamine for about 4 weeks. Also started hepatic dog food. There were only two – the first she refused. The second, l/d heptic dry she loves (actually food smells decent). Two years later she had two mast cell tumors removed from hind left upper leg. Since she would be under, we had a biopsy of the liver. It came up negative. I have a blood draw every 6 months to monitor the levels and they have remained fairly constant – bit higher than normal range, but lower than when we discovered the problem. I’m lucky for each day that she is still with me. 🙂

  7. I too am desparate to find something my 12 yeAr old shih tzu will eat she has hepatic encephalopathy and refuses all prescription diets for liver and kidney disease. She has lost 3 pounds and grows weaker by the day
    I’ve also tried chicken and rice and eggs nothing appeals to her Help!!!! She is my Life.

    • Jackie- Just Food For Dogs has a hepatic food. My dog eats a custom diet from there and he loves it. It might be worth a try.

      • I signed up today $250 so they can review Rico’s medical records. I’m praying this works cause I’m running out of food ideas

    • Hi Jackie,
      My dog has liver problems and she is on standard process brand canine hepatic support and denamarian advanced, she is also on kan herbs benefits hips and knees and an advanced hip and joint formula called inflamaway, she is also on caraprofen. All these products together seem to be helping her condition maybe something here could be helpful for your dog.

    • Hi Jackie i went through the same with my 12 year old bichon baby Had tasting plates everywhere…. she started to eat dry liver then egg smoothies with milk thistle and now mainly chicken thigh sometimes cooked Good Luck

  8. Our toy poodle is 18 and rescued from an amish puppy mill where he lived in a wire cage for 6 years. We eventually had to get all teeth out. Lost hearing at 15, lost sight this year. Last week he vomited and wouldn’t eat. He was in the hospital 2 days with an IV with an anti antibiotic (clavamox) and a pill (Denamarin) for high enzymes (6000) been home 3 days doing well on special diet. (Rice & Chicken) today doesen’t want to eat. Had 2 seizures last night a minute a piece. May need to return to hospital, if no improvement.

  9. Larry Hundagen My 17 old chi whinny was given clavamox and Denmarin and both made her have seizures. I immediately took her off them it took me several days to get her walking again. We were worried that she was going to pass away. Didn’t think we would get her moving again. I only gave her 1/2 pill off Clavamox first day to try it and she had a seizure was suppose to give here 2 a day. Waited a few days to try the Denamarin and only 1/2 a pill and was suppose to give her 2 a day then she had another seizure. I threw all that medicine away immediately. I am going all natural way and she is walking and running again. I am not happy with these medications because they just made her health issues worst. We will not be taking her back to the Vet any more she is seeing a nutritionist and all homemade meals. What is sad is she was doing better before taking all these medications. Sometimes the body just needs a little help to get back on track. So do some research and learn there is a better way to help your little rescue puppy. Clavamox and Denamarin are very hard on them but we did not figure this out right away. It took trial and error but once we did we took her off it asap and she made it. She is doing great now and walking again we thought we were going to lose her or just have to carry her everywhere because it caused her to not be able to walk. But thanks to God Almighty we got her walking and playing again. Taking them to a Vet to see what the problem is not a bad idea but from there on its our job to find a way to help them heal naturally. So many books and people who have great knowledge to help you get past that stage. Cranberry juice works great for bladder infections that’s what got her well from her bladder infection. The Clavamox was given to her for the bladder infection but didn’t work just made her have a seizure. If she is going to pass away it would be nice to just let her be in peace instead of having seizures all day and all night long no fun for our puppies. It is sad that we pay all this money to the Vet and then have to deal with these situations but live and learn. God will direct us in a better way. Hope all is well..Blessing for you and your puppy!

    • Hi there. I have a 13y/o chihuahua with out of this world numbers and had an ultrasound. No tumors but suspicious spots on one area of her liver and her gall bladder, and a kidney stone. She was put on Clavamox (liquid) and seems to be tolerating it (when I can manage to sneak it in her food, and if she actually eats) and Demerol. I didn’t want to use the Demerol after reading the bad effects. So glad your baby got better. Can I ask… what did you end up feeding her in your homemade meals? Any advice is appreciated… thank you!

  10. My 10 yr old Spaniel Sophie has bright gold runny stools. My Vet has been treating her with
    antibiotics to no avail as a matter of fact its made it worse They are not equipped to do Blood and Liver cultures so I am trying to find the best way to try treating her as though she has Liver disease. She has a good appetite and I’ve been feeding her Chicken & Rice which does not seem to change the problem. I am at a loss what to try

    • Sandra Evans: How is your dog now? Would suggest you get an ultrasound. It would tell you a lot about the health of all her internal organs. Gold stools may be a sign of liver or biliary disease. To confirm, search “yellow stool” or “shades of dog poop” on internet. (My 13 year old 10 lb mix just had a liver tumor removed and is recovering. Wish I’d gotten an ultrasound sooner, in July, one year after his second one, which was fine. Tumor was found in September; so it seems to have grown during the last 15 months. It was large, 5 X 6 cm.) Best of luck to you.

  11. Hello. My 14 y girl just had blood tests lasts week and they told me her liver was bad, high levels of enzymes. I am devastated. They mentioned a liver biopsy, which she might not survive, risk of bleeding. And the other suggestion was caned food and dry food, specific for liver disease, plus Denamarin( pills) for the rest of her life. I went with the option number 2, because I am afraid of the biopsy. Did anyone have the same situation ? I hope it is the right choice.

    • Hi Rodica, first stop giving your dog commercial grade food please. And don’t rely on prescription drugs. Vets only know how to prescribe medication. They don’t know about nutrition. Start cooking for your dog. Boil veggies and blend it in a processor. You can boil chicken breast add to the veggies as protein. Save the water from the boiled chicken. Your dog would love drinking it. Your dog may not like the veggies at first but she will eat it when she’s hungry. Very soon she will get used to eating veggies. I also give my dog human grade supplements such as probiotic, enzymes and algae. They are expensive but alot cheaper than meds, prescription can food, surgery, and visits to the vet. Also supplements good for your dogs health. Email me if you have any questions

      • Hello Kevin, I have a 6 year old 4lb morkie whose liver enzymes are extremely high. Do you have a good home made food recipe and what about milk thistle? What other supplements may help her?

      • Hello Kevin – thank you for your info on feeding a dog with high (I think) liver enzymes. My 12 yr. old Bichon who I love far too much is having a hard time liking hde prescribed canned dog food from the vet. What do you think is the best to feed him, that he would actually “like”?
        Joan

      • Hi Kevin My 10 year old shih tzu has a 10 cm mass on his liver, after doing ultrasound, CT scan, Electrocardiogram, and the surgeon told me can’t be removed because it compromised one of the major vessels, he is at home , some days is very letargy no eating as usual, does not want to eat his prescription dry food, i started cooking steam veggies and turkey, but he is bored, now I am giving him veggies with quinoa, zucchini , sweet potato , and PORK ( cooked ) and he loves pork, he eats the whole thing, i removed all the fat as much as i can. but he loves it, some vet told me that he may only live 6 months, i hope and pray to God that he stays with me more time, so he drinks lots of water because of the liver condition. if you have any other suggestion for his diet, please let me know. and if pork is fine. don’t know what else to give him, he was on Denamarin and clavamox the first time he started vomiting and with diarrhea , and that medication after a while I noticed that he was not eating as usual and I stopped that medicine, and he started eating and acting normal.

    • Please get a liver biospy where they actually take a piece of her liver – they did a specific blood tes before the surgery to make sure her b lood clots properly – anyway doing the biospy her liver was totally abnormal color then did a panel to see why – turns out she has high level of copper – she will have to be on SAM-E LQ and a medication called Penccillamine plus special royal can heptic food – Been doing things since August because her levels were so high – antibotics – bile acid test Ultrasound – I didnt want to do it but had to find why nothing was working – please get it done

  12. Any recommendations for a Labrador diagnosed at about her first birthday with copper storage disease? She is completely a symptomatic, but has had alkaline phosphatase levels of 700-1200 her entire life. Other liver enzymes are and have always been completely normal. The plan is to start Royal Canin Hepatic dry food, along with Denamarin. But there is very little I can find beyond this, and the long-term prognosis seems VERY unclear.

  13. My 6 year old Jack Russell mix family member who has been on for years whole earth farms grain/poultry free due to allergies. It was a huge red flag when Maizie who consumes a meal in 5 seconds didn’t want to eat. Blood test confirmed high liver enzymes. #1 It’s very confusing to me why dog foods for this condition would contain liver which his high in copper and from my reading we do not want. Fast forward shes on SAMe and can spit out the smallest amount of pill I cut up in doge food. I have no choice but to crush pill and sprinkle on small amount of food before waiting the hour to give the entire meal. I’m going to start making her food. Any suggestions with her grain/poultry allergies? So far I have white fish with rice. I’m sure she can’t have chicken eggs and I’m not ready to hop on the pumpkin bandwagon. Any suggestions I would greatly appreciate! Thank you!

  14. My 12.5 year old Codie was just diagnosed in November with Liver cancer, 2 maligment tumors, no surgery, since they were hard to get to. I suspect that this has been going on for awhile yet not detected. Had pancreatitis which lead to an ultrasound. She is on Demamarian and prednisone 20mg daily.
    Her appetite is huge. Not sure that she is in any pain, very active and playful. I deed her the L/D Liver Hills Prescription and mix with sweet potatoes,boiled chicken, green beans. Vary lean beef/and veggies. I have cut out all treats yet just bought some freeze dried ones. Any recommendation for healthy treats. she is a bone lover too, yet stopped all non rawhide chews. The vet said 3-4 months she has yet have not seen any decline in 6 weeks. Hopeful to make her comfortable.

    • Diane, have you looked into giving your dog human grade probiotics, enzymes and algae supplements? My dog has been taking it for over a year and his health had improved. We also cut off commercial grade food, no vet prescriptions food either. We cook for our little guy. Boiled veggies and chicken breast and blend it in a food processor. Save the broth from the boiled chicken, my dog loves to drink the broth. We would also save the chicken as topper on his veggies.

      Email me if you have other question. I would love to share my experience.

      • Hi Kevin! My lab mix also has elevated liver enzymes and gallbladder sludge. My vet had him on denamarin and ursodial
        for the gallbladder. I cook for him as well and he seems to be doing better but I wanted to ask you what is the veggies and chicken ratio you feed your dog and what probiotics and algae do you use?
        Thank you for your help!
        Suzanne

      • Hello Kevin,
        My 10 year old shorkie’s liver enzymes are off the charts and his liver is inflamed. The vet isn’t offering any plan of action except “to start Hepatosyl-LQ (a supplement) and maybe to come back in a months time for repeat bloodwork.” He currently eats Royal Canin Yorker formula and I plan to take him off and make homemade meals for him. I expressed this to my vet and he offered zero guidance. I feel so overwhelmed and stressed as I don’t know which direction to go – I think chicken and rice but I know that’s not enough so I don’t know what to do.. I need recipes with portions..anything you can share would greatly appreciated!

  15. My dog Loki has liver issues and possibly copper storage as well. His blood work was off the charts which made us very concerned. We took loki to two different vets and all they did was prescribe medications and prescription dog food. Prescription dog food is a fancy name for commercial grade dog food with Vet stamp of approval.. nothing more.
    We didn’t want our loki to be medicine dependent. We believe there is something better for him. We started by taking him completely off commercial goodm We did alot of research and started cooking for our dog and we started giving him human grade supplements of probiotic, enzymes, and algae. The improvements to his health was night and day.

    I would love to share our story and findings and hope that we can help other dogs and their owners.

  16. Hi Kevin..
    thank you so much for your informative healthy ideas for helping the liver on our doggies..
    that is definitely the way I want to go holistic… not chemicals and drugs… they seem to make my dog sicker…can you tell me what algae you are using? I do have dr. Mercola’s probiotics for dogs and have a human enzyme formula I was going to use…also dr. Marty has liver bites which i was thinking of ordering..my Yorkie has enlarged liver and still trying to get an u/s …he is 12 and I usually cook every night for them…thank you for any advice you have!!
    B:)

  17. My 8 yr old poodle after having normal liver enzymes in Nov and then April 1 extremely elevated. She was on Rovera for almost a year with knee injury. Vet started on regimen of antibiotics, and other meds which at Day 9 Bailee would not take in any form and would pick out of food. New blood test and ALT went up 15 times. She had an ultrasound and confirmed liver disease, nodes in liver, hepatitis. Next step is biopsy. We are scheduled with Internal medical Vet next week.
    I did start her on Milk Thistle which cleanses the liver and putting 2 tablespoons of organic pumpkin to her food. She is only eating half her food now. She had not been put on special diet until biopsy. Her normal diet is Science Diet wet and I add baked chicken breast to it.

  18. Can someone leave their homemade recipes and supplements they are using. My girl has been thru ultrasound, cat scan, fine needle biopsy, no real answers of what it is.

  19. Let me share an anecdote of my former neighbor:

    Her dog was getting sick all the time. She constantly changed its food and took it to the vet all the time. Finally, after trying prescription diets of all sorts, her vet suggested just chicken and rice.

    So my neighbor started giving her sick dog home cooked chicken and rice. At around that time she adopted a Golden Retriever puppy. She told me that she just gave the puppy the same food.

    Well, it was too late to save her sick and it passed away. She kept her puppy on chicken and rice – AND 12 YEARS LATER, that Golden Retriever had the most beautiful full coat and such bouncy energy that I thought he was a puppy when I met her. She told me that she never had to bring him to vet except for vaccinations and checkups. Super healthy dog – and all she does is this:

    Every Saturday roast chicken breasts or legs in the oven and cook rice. She portioned out his daily servings for the whole week in the fridge.

  20. My lab had two seizures . Took her to vet for extensive testing. Only thing we know is Alt 700 ast also elevated . Vet believes she needs liver biopsy. She is on kempra for seizures and denamarin. She does not have symptoms of copperage disease. I only feed her broiled chicken and not vet added hepatic dry food. Not sure where to do biopsy because I will not let her be cut… trying to figure out what homemade meals and supplements I can give to help out…

  21. I’ve read through this entire thread and wanted to share what I was looking for: a liver-friendly recipe.

    My vet recommended BalanceIt.com where you can use generated recipes that are low in copper and sensitive to liver issues, or you can design your own recipe with the limitations in mind. You ensure your dog is maintaining his or her nutrition by purchasing a copper-free multivitamin from BalanceIt. You will need vet approval, but aside from the vitamin purchase, there aren’t any other charges. I’m currently feeing my 13-year-old pug the following:

    • 3 lb. organic sweet potatoes
    • 1.5 c. organic rolled oats
    • 24 eggs, scrambled in a teaspoon of coconut oil
    • 7 teaspoons flaxseed oil

    I divide this into four meals each day over the course of a week. Sunday meal prep has taken on a new meaning in our house!

    I have had my pugger on a powdered SAM-E supplement for about 2 months, which wasn’t very palatable for him, before switching to Denamarin, which we’ve been on for about 2 weeks. There’s a manufacturer’s shortage on Denamarin at the moment, so it’s hard to come by, but we just found out his liver enzymes (ALT, ALKP) went up 75 and 120 points each, respectively. I trust our vet, and she said that although they’ve gone up, she considers them static. His levels are currently at 400 and 528. I wasn’t thrilled, which is why I took to the internet for some more information and new avenues to explore.

    I hope this helps future readers, and I wish you direction, confidence, and hope in your journey with your fur babies. I encourage the next posts to share detailed information regarding what you’re feeding your dog and what supplements you have them on (name, brand, dosage, link to Amazon/Chewy/etc.).

  22. Its been a yr.my Mya takes denamarin n ursidol.vet wanted 2 hospitalized her with fluids.said it would cost $2000. Well it already was over 550 for the visit that confirmed liver disease.lucky we had got our stimulus $. Anyway I spent weeks it seems research EVERYTHING I could about liver diseaes.I got a sams card so I could buy a box of ground turkey packages for $42. Thats got several pages. Of meat in there.I gave her ground turkey n pasta n an omega 3 oil in it like fish, salmon, coconut oil..all good.n I also bought sample pages. Of dr.martys mixture that has variety of dried veggies to add to the meal.I also put little xtras in like turmeric; 1tsp. N other stuff..natural supplaments.also I added a pre n probiotic.to it.and ground up eggshell too for calcium.theres vitamins too..like the b vitamins.also dr.marty has dried fruits in it also.anyway..like I said..alot of research…also ground chicken.these days shes gotten real picky.there is something called ” nutrical” u can buy on amazon( n alot of natural supplements n dr.martys stuff too.) Anyway nutracal is 4 when she won’t eat..its got all the nutrients when ur dog isn’t eating right n it can also give her an appetite.nowadays it seems I will eat with her to stimulate her appetite.she has a gut( bushes bony) that’s also sign of liver disease. I could go on n on.I worry each day about what to feed her..so I try anything as long as its not 2 sweet, salty, n not greasy.hell today I gave her a peanut butter n jelly sandwich n oatmeal with peaches this morning! Good luck everyone n be creative if u got to..also I got these ” yak” bones , all natural n great for chewing on..hard n all( yes I have another 3 gerariac doggies)my pets absolutely love them.

      • This article has great information. However the comment section…. People are giving their medical diagnosis based on a paragraph of what said person has written. Please speak to your veterinarian about what tests to run, what medication and supplements to take and most importantly what to feed your pet. Not some random thread with people recommending a poorly balanced “home made” diet. This site should not allow these types of comments – “recommendations”

  23. Absolutely! Liver disease has so many causes and each cause requires different restrictions. Please be careful.

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