Does your dog have liver disease or problems, and as a result, often turns their nose up at their food? Lack of appetite is a common symptom of liver disease in dogs and can be anxiety-inducing for a dog parent, who quite rightly wants them to eat for their health. If your pooch has a liver that’s somewhat dysfunctional, sourcing the most beneficial food for them - and making sure they want to eat it - is an essential part of their ongoing treatment.
So, what’s the best dog food for dogs with liver disease? In this article we’ll go through the attributes you’ll need to look for when planning the best diet for your liver-strained pooch, and go over some key foods they should and shouldn’t eat in order to stay fit and well.
Just as in humans, the liver is mightily important to a dog’s internal function - put simply, it helps digest food, filter toxins and regulate the blood. There’s lots of contributors to liver disease in dogs, and if you’re not sure if your dog has it, you can read more about its symptoms and causes here.
If you already know that your dog has liver disease, you’ll hopefully be aware that the right diet is essential to their daily functioning and needs to be carefully chosen. A diet that’s tailored to support a damaged liver is called a hepatic diet - and that’s a phrase you’ll want to remember. A hepatic diet contains easily digestible ingredients and a clever balance of food groups that will nourish your dog, and their liver, while putting as little pressure on the organ as possible.
So when your dog has liver disease or problems, you’ll want to find a high-quality hepatic dog food for their regular meals. But what exactly does this mean, and what should you look for when sourcing this food?
Let’s lay out the main attributes of a hepatic diet, i.e. the best food for your dog’s liver problems:
Usually, a hepatic dog food has:
Though protein-heavy food is usually recommended for dogs of standard health, for dogs with liver dysfunction it tends to be the opposite. The liver works especially hard to process protein, so reducing the amount it has to work with means your dog’s body isn’t being put under stress that it can’t handle.
Protein is still an essential food group however, so dog food for liver disease will usually derive protein from small amounts of fish, eggs or peas as an alternative to red meat or offal.
So exactly what kind of food should you go for that supports a liver-friendly, hepatic diet for dogs?
For dogs with liver issues who also have a grain allergy or who prefer a grain-free diet, Pooch & Mutt offers a vet recommended, specialist dog food for liver disease that contains zero grain. Our Veterinary Food for Liver Disease uses the specifications of a hepatic diet for healthy liver function and is entirely grain-free. What’s more, unlike other prescription hepatic foods, we’ve boosted flavour by adding delicious chicken skin and salmon oil - the perfect amount of succulent fats to make it irresistible to dogs who may have gone off their food. To top it off, we’ve added milk thistle - its nutrients are excellent for liver function.
If your vet has instructed that your pooch eat hepatic dog food, then a premium specialist hepatic food such as our Pooch & Mutt Vet range should be fine, but chat it over with your vet first to be sure.
Hepatic dog food is usually prescribed for dogs with the following conditions:
If your dog doesn’t have liver problems, do not feed them hepatic dog food as it doesn’t contain the right balance of ingredients to support a standard dog diet and they could become unwell.
Not only are blueberries deemed a ‘superfood’ for humans, in moderation they are packed full of benefits for dogs too - and are even recommended for boosting liver function in dogs. Blueberries contain anthocyanins - clever antioxidants that protect the liver from oxidative stress; and also Vitamin K, which is especially good for liver health.
Lots of dog owners feed their pooches peanut butter, but it’s always a risk - and likely too dangerous to feed to a dog with liver disease.
Not only is peanut butter high in harmful trans fats used to preserve its shelf life, it can also contain aflatoxins - a cancer-causing mycotoxin that often targets the liver. The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) warns that acute, prolonged exposure to aflatoxins “inhibit the normal functions of the liver, including carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and protein synthesis.”
Finally, any peanut butter brand that contains Xylitol - an artificial sweetener that is fine for humans, but toxic to dogs - should definitely be avoided, as Xylitol has also been reported to contribute to liver failure. In general, it’s probably a better idea to keep the peanut butter jar to yourself.
Bananas sometimes get a bad rep for being relatively high fat and high sugar, but they’re high in B vitamins and a safe snack for dogs with liver disease when given in moderation.
Eggs are one of the best sources of protein for dogs with liver disease. As they’re nutrient-rich and gentle on digestion, eggs are a tasty alternative to meat protein sources (especially red meat) as part of a hepatic diet.
Yummy sweet potatoes are packed with B vitamins which help support liver function, so it’s a great food option for a dog with liver disease. It’s also rich in starch and a good source of complex carbohydrates.
There’s lots of reasons dogs develop liver disease, and this can dictate what foods they should and shouldn’t eat. Some dogs have liver dysfunction due to copper build-up, for instance, so need to avoid foods rich in copper - but for other dogs, this may not be the case. Always talk to your vet to get specific recommendations over the needs of your pooch.
Usually, dogs with liver disease are recommended to avoid:
If your pooch has a poorly liver, you may be nervous over whether they’re eating the best food for their condition, especially as dogs with liver dysfunction suffer from a suppressed appetite. With the right specialist dog food, however, you needn’t worry - as they’ll be getting the exact right balance of food groups and nutrients to support their liver’s needs and boost their health and wellbeing overall.
Pooch & Mutt’s Veterinary Range has been developed for a variety of specific health conditions in dogs - including our Hepatic/Liver Veterinary Food which contains all the active ingredients and specifications of a prescription dog food on a tasty, grain-free base. With added chicken skin and salmon oil, your pooch will be licking the bowl clean every mealtime.
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