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Cirrhosis / Hepatic Cirrhosis / Liver Disease

Cirrhosis

Herbal remedies to help relieve cirrhosis (liver disease) and to support liver function in dogs and cats.

The liver is a complex organ that interacts with most other organs in the body, including the intestinal tract, cardiovascular system, kidneys, and autonomic nervous system. Herbal remedies provide support to the  liver and gallbladder, support liver metabolism, bile production and flow, hepatic circulation and immune function, kidney rehabilitation and support of the bladder and gall bladder.

The liver has a variety of functions in your pet’s body and it is responsible for building and breaking down fats, carbohydrates and proteins as well as storing vitamins, minerals, glycogen (a form of glucose) and triglycerides (the building blocks of fat). It plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells and produces factors important for the normal clotting of blood.

The liver is an essential part of the immune system. The immune system assists in digestion by producing bile and is essential for detoxification of a variety of toxic compounds that your pet’s body system encounters every day.

Because the liver is such an important organ in your pet’s body, it is important that any treatment that is undertaken is done at an early stage of the disease process. The liver has a remarkable capacity for regeneration but care must be taken to not do further damage to the liver during the treatment process.

The liver can also perform while under duress and is often subject to damage over a pet's lifetime. The liver can work silently until it becomes overly taxed and begins to malfunction. When your pet’s liver is not functioning properly, toxins will build up, digestion will be affected and there may be a shortage of essential substances such as glucose, vitamins and minerals.

Liver disease, also known as cirrhosis and hepatitis, describes a number of conditions affecting the liver. Liver disease can include bacterial infections, tumors, blockage of the bile ducts from the gall bladder, circulation disorders of the liver, viral diseases such as infectious canine and feline hepatitis and a variety of toxins that may damage the cells of the liver.

The causes of cirrhosis include:

Viral infections

Bacterial infections

Toxins such as pesticides

Drugs such as corticosteroids

Anorexia in cats (causes Feline Hepatic Lipidosis)

Leptospirosis

Gall bladder obstruction

Diabetes

Cushings

Hyperthyroidism

Tumors

Cancer

The symptoms of cirrhosis include:

Vomiting

Anorexia

Diarrhea

Stomach ulcers

Nervous signs

Fever

Blood clotting disorders

Jaundice (yellow gums and eyes)

Fluid build up in the abdomen

Excessive thirst and urination

Weight loss

Dementia

Seizures

Coma

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Nervous symptoms of cirrhosis include:

Circling

Head pressing

Aimless wandering

Weakness

Staggering gait

Blindness

Aggression

Dementia

Coma 

If your cat goes without food for more than 3 days, there may be an excessive build up of fat within the cells of the liver, which is referred to as lipidosis. Lipidosis occurs as a result of body’s normal response to a brief period of anorexia (not eating). The effects on the liver, however, can be devastating. The fat that builds up in the liver cells prevents the bile produced in the liver cells from leaving the cells. This build up of bile is toxic and causes marked damage to the liver cells, resulting in liver disease and failure.

Lipidosis is considered as a cause or contributing cause of liver failure when a cat or dog that was once overweight loses weight too quickly. Pet owners are not aware that rapid weight loss is dangerous for cats . By the time the cat actually stops eating and is clearly sick, the disease is well underway and will require more aggressive support to reverse.

Mixed breeds cats are more predisposed, although among the purebred cats, Persians and Himalayans most commonly develop liver problems.

Your pet may also stop eating due to dislike of food provided, pain, illness or environmental stress or anxiety. 

Certain breeds of dogs are genetically predisposed to liver problems, including Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Maltese, Scottish Terriers, Pugs, Irish Wolfhounds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, German Shepherds and Poodles have a higher incidence of liver disease.

Your pet may be born with a liver disorder. The most common disorder of this type is known as a porto systemic shunt and is a condition where blood flow is diverted away from the liver. When this happens, the liver cannot remove toxins from the blood and classic symptoms of liver disease appear.

Young pets suffering from porto systemic shunt will usually start showing symptoms between 6 months and 1 year of age.

Liver tumors can also cause liver disease and tends to occur in older pets, with most diagnosed after the age of 10 years.

Poisoning is another cause of cirrhosis.

Your pet may also experience hepatic encephalopathy, due to  the build up of toxins in the brain, especially ammonia which is normally broken down into harmless components by the liver. Your pet will likely be anemic, have too few red blood cells and present elevated liver enzymes.

Other reasons animals stop eating related to cirrhosis:

28% had inflammatory bowel disease

20% had a second type of liver disease (usually cholangiohepatitis)

14% had cancer

11% had pancreatitis

5% had social problems (new cat, new home, threatening other pet or person at home)

4% had some kind of respiratory disease

2% were diabetic

Herbal Remedies:

Herbal remedies provide natural and alternative therapies to alleviate symptoms of liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatic cirrhosis, hepatic lipidosis and porto systemic shunts; to support, rehabilitate and repair proper liver function, metabolism, bile production and flow; to normalize and regenerate liver cells; to detoxify the liver, kidneys and gall bladder and to support healthy immunity.

Hepa Protect – (learn more) supports proper liver function and metabolism, bile production and flow, rehabilitates the performance, health and repair of the liver, kidneys, bladder and gall bladder, rehabilitates and detoxifies the kidneys and liver; tones and balances the connective tissue of the liver, kidneys and bladder, normalizes liver enzyme levels, regulates kidney acid/alkaline levels, for all types of stones and gravel of the liver, kidneys, bladder and gallbladder, including oxalate and struvite crystals and stones; reduces uric acid, for gall bladder inflammation, gall stones and gallbladder infections, for renal colic and renal calculi. 

Stix & Stones – (learn more) promotes improved kidney function, helps to break up kidney, liver, gallbladder and bladder stones and gravel (active stones, crystals and as a preventative), helps to safely remove stones from the body; treats urinary infections, for kidney and liver disease, tones and balances kidney, liver, intestine, pancreas, gall bladder function and health, reduces uric acid levels in urine, increases urination, blocks the formation of calcium crystals such as calcium oxalate and prevents them from entering kidney and bladder cells, provides pH modulation, for urinary system disorders and pathologies and for hepatic insufficiency. 

Love Your Liver - (learn more) promotes the performance, health and repair of the liver, kidneys and bladder, facilitates rental and digestive excretions, provides protection and detoxification from insecticides, toxins, vaccinations, an inappropriate diet and an excess of food, relieves symptoms such as pressure, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and flatulence, regulates kidney acid/alkaline levels, for hepatic lipidosis, Fatty Liver Disease (FLD),  Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS) and Feline cholangiohepatitis.

I’m Allergic to Needles – (learn more) is used for proper pancreatic support, health and function, charged with producing proper insulin levels, for all types of diabetes I and II, to reduce glucose levels in blood and for insulin resistance, to improve the glycemic index in pets with diabetes, to regulate metabolic stress, and maintain proper liver metabolism, circulation, bile production and flow, for hepatic immune function, useful in regulating excess weight and fatty deposits.

Other helpful suggestions:

Ensure regular, adequate exercise

Do not feed your pet chocolate

Avoid unnecessary use of pesticides, herbicides and flea collars

Don’t smoke around your pet (in fact don’t smoke at all)

Feed a balanced, organic diet that is free of preservatives and colorants

Ensure that your pet always has plenty of fresh, filtered water

Make time to have fun with your pet which relieves stress

Visit your vet once a year for your pet’s annual health check

Conventional Remedies:

A diagnosis will be based on health history as well as the clinical symptoms of weight loss, jaundice and lethargy. Blood tests will confirm the diagnosis although additional tests such as an ultrasound or biopsy of the liver may be needed.

It is important to distinguish tests of liver damage (like enzymes) versus tests of liver function (like bile acids). The enzymes ALT and AST are normally held inside liver cells; when their presence is detected free in the bloodstream, this is an indicator of liver cell death. A liver can have damage without any decrease in its overall function.

Treatment is purely supportive with the aim of providing nutrition until your pet begins eating on its own again. Antibiotics may be prescribed for infection. It may be necessary to force feed a high calorie diet and your vet might need to put a feeding tube into your cat’s stomach. It may also be necessary to put your cat onto intravenous fluids.

Seeing your pet so ill is very distressing and certainly all options for treatment should be investigated.

Treatment options might include intravenous fluids, antibiotics, laxatives, blood transfusions, corticosteroids, ursodeoxycholic acid, colchicine, vitamin and mineral supplements, force feeding a high calorie diet and chemotherapy.

 

 

 

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