Chronic Liver Diseases In Dogs

Glycogen Storage Disease

Glycogen is a form of stored sugar that is found in animals. When the body needs energy, glycogen can be converted to glucose. Glycogen storage disease is caused when the animal has a deficiency of certain enzymes. This deficiency means the the glycogen is not released from the cells and accumulates in the liver and other organs. It is, therefore, not available to convert to glucose. The symptoms include weakness due to low blood sugar levels, enlarged liver, and retarded growth. Liver samples, skin samples and muscle sample need to be analyzed for a diagnosis. The treatment program is based on the symptoms of the individual animals. It generally includes small meals of a high carbohydrate diet which are fed frequently. The prognosis of the affected dog is poor and most dogs who suffer from glycogen storage disease die at a young age.

Hepatic Amyloidosis

Amyloid is the term used for a protein that is not folded in the correct shape. The incorrectly shaped protein can cause damage by displacing the normal cells. Amyloidosis is a genetic disease found in Chines Shar-peis but it does not always affect the liver. It is possible for some dogs with this condition to show no symptoms but generally symptoms include excessive thirst, enlarged liver, vomiting, jaundice, excessive urination, and appetite loss. The dog may collapse and the mucous membranes may be pale due to the rupture of the liver and internal bleeding which would follow. Hepatic amyloidosis is diagnosed by taking biopsy samples to identify amyloid deposits in the liver. There are drugs which may slow the progression of the disease but the prognosis is poor, particularly if the diagnosis is made in the later stages of the disease.

Idiopathic Liver Fibrosis

Idiopathic Liver or hepatic fibrosis is liver fibrosis in young dogs that is not associated with an underlying inflammatory condition. Fibrosis is the accumulation of scar tissue that replaces normal healthy tissue in the liver. Affected dogs are generally under two years old. The symptoms include ascites which is an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, and hepatic encephalopathy. The animal may also present with vomiting, weight loss, and diarrhea. Abdominal x-rays may show that the liver size has decreased and there be blood vessel abnormalities between the liver and the intestines which may be seen by ultrasound. The treatment usually consist of management of the symptoms, especially hepatic encephalopathy and ascites.

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