What’s the best dog food for liver disease?

Updated 09 November 2023
Read time: 9 mins
article author
Written by Corinne Homer

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.


Nutritional requirements for dog food for liver disease 

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.



Best dog food for liver disease and problems

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:

  • Low protein. Unlike regular dog food, an effective dog food for liver disease won’t contain high levels of protein, as processing protein presents a challenge for a damaged or struggling liver. The protein that is present will come from gently digestible ingredients such as cod, peas or eggs. Occasionally meat such as chicken or ostrich may be used - but red meat should be avoided.
  • Easily digestible. Everything in a hepatic dog food should be as gentle as possible for a dog’s body to digest.
  • Low levels of copper. In some instances, copper build-up can cause the liver to dysfunction. For this reason, hepatic food avoids high levels of copper.
  • High zinc content. Zinc helps to further counteract any copper build-up in the liver. 
  • Delicious flavours. As dogs with liver function have a decreased appetite, it’s important for their food to taste irresistible.  


Is low protein dog food good for liver disease?

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.


​​What food can I give my dog with liver disease?

So exactly what kind of food should you go for that supports a liver-friendly, hepatic diet for dogs? 


  • It’s important to avoid cheap commercial dog food if your pooch has special dietary needs for liver function, as it often contains preservatives, sugars and filler ingredients that serve no value to your dog’s liver. Commercial dog foods have to pass certain standards to be deemed a complete and balanced diet, but most cheap brands simply won’t have a suitable option for your pooch’s niche requirements.


  • If you’re a fan of homemade or raw food for dogs (sometimes called the BARF diet) things can be tricky, as preparing a hepatic diet can be more time-consuming and harder to balance than choosing a high-quality, ready-made dog food. Some pooch parents like to know exactly what’s in their dog’s meals however, so if you’d like to stick to homemade or raw food, chat to a pet nutritionist first to ensure you get meals exactly right. 


  • If your dog has liver issues, going for a premium-quality, specialist dog food that comes recommended by vets is the best way to go. The right food should be an integral part of your dog’s treatment - boosting their energy and protecting them from sickness, stomach upsets and any low mood that might come from their liver problems. It should also be extra appetising so that your dog is enticed to eat it, even when they don’t feel hungry. 


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.


dog food comparison inforgraphic


Can my dog eat hepatic dog food for liver disease and problems? 

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:


  • Chronic liver (hepatic) insufficiency 
  • Portosystemic shunt (PSS)
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Convalescence following intoxication

    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. 



    Are blueberries good for dogs with liver disease?

    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. 



    Is peanut butter good for dogs with liver disease?

    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. 


    Are bananas good for dogs with liver disease?

    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. 


    Are eggs good for dogs with liver disease?

    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.


    Are sweet potatoes good for dogs with liver disease?

    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.


    What foods should dogs with liver disease avoid?

    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:


    • Foods high in copper or salt, such as lamb, duck, pork and offal 
    • Red meats high in protein, such as beef
    • Dog food containing meat meal, preservatives, artificial ingredients and high sugar
    • Table scraps and human leftovers
    • Xylitol, the artificial sweetener (this should always be avoided by all dogs).


    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. 




    husky with a vet on a yellow background


    If you're worried your pooch might be suffering with liver problems, take a look at our blog post all about liver disease in dogs.



    Comments (23)

    Our 12 year old dog suffers from high liver enzymes. She’s been on medication for 4 years. We have changed to Royal Cainn Hepatic diet 4 years ago. Nothing has changed in her liver enzymes levels. We read the information in your article, that pork is not good for dogs with liver disease.
    The Hepatic dog we are feeding her have ingredients such as pork, chicken livers, and fillers. Should we switch to your Hepatic formula dog food?

    Linda Yee - Jul 26 2023

    Hi Linda, when looking to switch to our vet food we would always advise checking with your vet first, just to be sure they are happy with your pup being on our food. As there could be a reason your vet has advised this diet and particular brand. If you have any other questions, please reach out to the team on :)

    Team Pooch - Jul 26 2023

    Our mini heeler has started having massive poops, smelly and light tan. We took all but one ingredient out and he seemed better. Then we added a cancer diet dog food that we make at home back in with a squirt of fish oil, and it all started again. So its back to just one comercial dog food, and see what happens. We’re afraid to take him to the vet as they say the tests would run between 500 and 1000$. We have 8 dogs and would like to solve this ourselves. Suggestions?

    scott davison - Aug 18 2023

    Hi Scott, our team will reach out to you directly with this and help as best we can :)

    Team Pooch - Aug 18 2023

    My dogs liver # are up I feed her fresh pet food is that ok

    KAREN - Aug 22 2023

    Hi Karen, we would advise consulting your vet about this, as some pooches do need a specific diet with their liver disease.

    Team Pooch - Aug 22 2023

    Hi, I just wondered if your food was ok for the function of the kidneys too?

    Leanne - Aug 23 2023

    Hi Leanne, our Hepatic/Liver food is aimed at those with liver disease or liver issues, if your pooch has additional kidney trouble we would advise consulting your vet to see if this food would be suitable for them. Alternatively, if they have kidney problems only, you could look at our Renal/Kidney veterinary food instead. If you have any questions please reach out to the team on :)

    Team Pooch - Aug 23 2023

    Hi. What kind of biscuits can I give my dog if she has too much copper in her liver? The Vet just suggested that I give my dog prescription dog food because of the liver disease

    Adela - Sep 01 2023

    Hi Adela, If your vet has advised your dog has liver disease, then our Hepatic / Liver disease veterinary food may be a good option for her. We would always advise consulting your vet first, to ensure they are happy for you to feed our food. :)

    Team Pooch - Sep 01 2023

    Hello. Can we buy your food in Spain? My little dog has just been diagnosed with liver disease. Thank you

    Linda Brand - Sep 04 2023

    My mini dachshund was diagnosed with Cushing .her liver enzymes are 1700 what can I give her to bring down her enzymes

    Mildred - Sep 04 2023

    Hi Mildred, we would advise speaking with your vet about this and they will be best to advise what might help bring down the liver enzymes. :)

    Team Pooch - Sep 04 2023

    Hi Linda, Apple4 pets / Applecore do stock our products, but we can’t guarantee that they will have our new vet range unfortunately and we really apologise about this

    Team Pooch - Sep 04 2023

    I took my little Shih Tzu Allie to the emergency veterinarian and he diagnosed her with UTI and gave her antibiotic for seven days. They Gave her seven days of antibiotic and took blood and her liver enzymes were a little over 500. After two pills she seen much better but of course finished all of them and gets her liver enzymes checked in two more weeks. He did not know for sure what was wrong with her is there anything that you can think of that it might be? There were many test you wanted to do but I do not have the money and they will not do anything without money upfront. Thank you for any help. You can give me as far as diagnosis or possible diagnosis.

    Freda Dilks - Oct 03 2023

    Hi Freda,
    I am really sorry but we are unable to help with a diagnosis and your own vet would be best placed to advise as they know your pets history. If they have requested to run several tests, it might be that there are a few possibilities and might be worth discussing further with them.

    Team Pooch - Oct 03 2023

    Freda. I have experienced the same issue with my yorkie. The vets will not do anything with money. I took my yorkie to Tijuana Mexico. To my surprise, they took care my dog. My total bill there was less than my one visit here in California. I hoped this helps.

    Melissa - Oct 25 2023

    My 10yr mixed breed was diagnosed with SARDS in May .
    A blood test has revealed very high enzyme liver levels .
    She is allergic to chicken-
    I am trying to find a food that will help her liver function??

    Laurie Merola - Oct 25 2023

    Today I found out that my Pooch dog at 10 years have high ALT 305!
    She eats mostly Vegetarian diet( Hindu) cooked beans and steam cooked Vegetables & waffle (120 Cal) in the morning. She is Obese per Vet ! Any suggestions for high ALT? Can it be Fatty liver? She likes fresh warm homemade food only. What else I can feel her? Thanks.

    Hema - Oct 25 2023

    Hi Laurie, we do sell a Hepatic Dry Food which helps improve Live Function, however this does contain Chicken Fat so this wouldn’t be appropriate I’m afraid, you may need to contact your Vet and ask them to prescribe a food for you :)

    Team Pooch - Oct 25 2023

    Hi Hema, High ALT is not a specific sign and is something your vet should look into further.

    While it can indicate liver disease, we can also see it with e.g. Cushing’s disease, heart disease or intestinal inflammation.

    So further tests are needed to determine why the ALT is raised. This could include e.g. a Bile Acid Stimulation Blood test, urine analysis and/or abdominal scan.

    As she is obese, for now I’d consider our slim and slender diet.
    Reducing her weight is really important, both to prevent disease but also to ensure she gets the best quality of life.

    She may need to be moved onto a veterinary diet (such as our hepatic food), depending on further test results going forward.

    Team Pooch - Oct 25 2023

    I have been feeding your food to my Chihuahua with Liver problems, the vet is happy with Barkley being on your food… But the problem is he has gained 1 kg , when he’s only having 50 grams a day.. Barkley walks 2 miles a day, any help appreciated because it is not good to have a over weight animal

    Pauline Tompkins - Nov 08 2023

    Hi Pauline, If you would like to reach out to the team on with your dogs breed, age and ideal weight, we would be more than happy to double check the feeding guidelines for you :)

    Team Pooch - Nov 08 2023

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