Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SF Bay Area
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Photo Submissions 3 Times in 3 Posts
Unfortunately, I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about liver disease in dogs. Our precious prior Havanese died not too long ago from it at the age of 8. First of all, there could be different causes for the elevated enzymes. If it is from toxicity (drugs, pesticides, etc.), the liver CAN recover if the toxin is removed from the dog's environment. The liver has regenerative capacity, so that's good. However, there are numerous other causes such as hepatitis, bacterial infections, portosystemic shunts, etc. If your Havanese is still a puppy, I'd suspect a portosystemic shunt. Many shunts can be fixed by surgery. My havanese's only symptom was that she started drinking alot of water. I took her to the vet thinking maybe it was diabetes or Cushings, and she ran a blood test which showed elevated liver enzymes. Later on, I noticed a darker orange color to her urine, which meant she was spilling birirubin which was confirmed by a urinalysis.
The only definitive way to diagnose liver disease is a liver biopsy. The vet had a specialist come in to do it, guided by ultrasound. Unfortunately for my dog, she had a fibrotic liver which meant her disease was quite advanced. There are multiple medicines that can be used to help liver dogs, but first you need to find out the cause of the elevated enzymes. A bile acid test is a good first step, but a biopsy would eventually be needed for a diagnosis. I found an excellent liver specialist for my dog, and I would recommend that a specialist be consulted, since vets don't have alot of the latest info on liver disease. There are 2 natural liver supportive drugs, Sam-e and Milk Thistle that were added by the specialist to my dog's drug and diet regimen. They can be bought in canine form (Denosyl and Marin). Plus, there is a specific low protein, low fat diet the dog must be on to support the liver.
Don't assume the worst. If the enzymes are elevated due to your dog taking a drug (such as prednisone or phenobarbitol), this can temporarily elevate the enzymes and your dog may recover fully. Or the elevated enzymes could be secondary to some other process such as Cushings. But I would urge you to not wait on a diagnosis, since you said your dog is "acting funny". One of the stages of liver disease is hepatic encepholopathy, which causes strange behavior. If you'd like, just PM me and I can give you alot of info that I gathered during my dog's illness.
I wish you the best with your Havanese!