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Veterinary Diets for Liver Disease in Dogs and Cats
The liver is a vital organ that plays a key role in digestion, metabolism, detoxification, and protein/vitamin production. Liver disease can be caused by many things, including viral or bacterial infections, toxic chemicals or drugs, cancer, parasites, or metabolic disorders (eg, diabetes). In certain cases, your pet may benefit from a special diet to help maintain optimal liver health while helping to control the symptoms of their specific problem.

Diets that promote liver health typically contain high quality and highly digestible proteins in lower levels to help maintain liver function while helping to reduce the workload on this vital organ. Other characteristics these diets include are the addition of L-carnitine to help maintain normal fat metabolism in the liver. Many patients with liver disease can also retain excess fluid in their legs and abdomen. This is called ascites. Since excess dietary sodium can cause fluid retention, many liver diets restrict sodium which can help to manage your pet’s symptoms that may accompany his/her disorder.

Although medications, supplements, and other treatments are almost always necessary to help manage your pet’s disease, the food you are feeding can be an easy and beneficial way of helping to keep your pet as healthy and comfortable as possible. Since prescription diets that are formulated for liver health may not be ideal for every animal, it is important for your veterinarian to monitor your pet’s diet and disease carefully. Since there are a few foods that are commercially available to help with your pet’s liver problem, check with your veterinarian for the best option for you and your pet.

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