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Chronic Liver Disease in Dogs; Biopsy Early

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

Chronic liver can present a diagnostic challenge, with different types of chronic hepatic disease being associated with similar clinical and laboratory findings.

Clinical signs of chronic liver disease in dogs are often non-specific; therefore, this disease is frequently diagnosed in an advanced stage that makes successful intervention less likely.

Differentiating dogs with primary liver disease from those with acquired acquired liver disease is often difficult requiring invasive diagnostic procedures such as laparoscopic liver biopsy but it is currently, the only way to establish a definitive diagnosis of liver disease in dogs through the histopathological assessment of a liver biopsy specimen. The acquisition of a liver biopsy specimen, although considered the gold standard, is invasive and has limitations and risks though comparatively small when faced with the alternative.

Since dogs with chronic liver disease are often asymptomatic the tendency is to monitor these cases in perpetuity with no diagnostic plan or treatment plan. Please be advised that ursodiol and denamarin are not treatments. There is yet no evidence that they cure or treat any chronic liver disease in the dog and these expensive supplements provide clients with the false sense that they are treating their companion animal and may prevent them from obtaining a diagnosis.

The following article discusses the most common form of chronic liver disease in dogs.


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