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Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Dogs and Cats

Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Dogs and Cats

Herbal nutrition for Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (hepatic lipidosis) in cats and dogs.

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 and 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.

Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, also called fatty liver disease and hepatic lipidosis, is the most common cause of liver disease in cats, and is especially common in overweight or obese cats. Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease can also affect dogs of all ages and breeds. Your pet is at risk of developing this condition if he/she becomes anorexic (does not eat) for more than a few days. Cats stop eating for a multitude of reasons related to disliking food, they may be injured, in pain or may be affected by environmental stress or anxiety.

The liver has a host of critical functions in your cat’s body and 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 also essential component of the immune system. The liver assists in digestion by producing bile and is essential for getting rid of  variety of toxic compounds that your pet’s body encounters every day.

The liver is able to function under great duress for a long period of time, however, it can be damaged over time and result in dysfunction or lack of proper function. 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.

Purebred dogs such as 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. Mixed breeds are more predisposed, although Persians and Himalayans do develop liver problems.

Your pet may be born with a liver disorder. The most common disorder is called a portosystemic shunt. In this condition, blpod flow is diverted away from the liver, leaving it unable to remove toxins from the blood and classic symptoms of liver disease will appear.

Young pets with a portosystemic shunt will usually start showing symptoms between 6 months and 1 year of age.

Liver tumors tend to occur in older pets, with most animals with liver cancer being diagnosed after the age of 10 years.

The onset of the symptoms of liver disease may be very rapid in the case of a poisoning or may take some time to show if the liver is affected by a slow growing tumor.

Common symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease include: 




Stomach ulcers

Nervous signs


Blood clotting disorders

Jaundice (yellow gums and eyes)

Fluid build up in the abdomen

Excessive thirst and urination

Weight loss




Central Nervous System signs may also occur and commonly include circling, head pressing, aimless wandering, weakness, staggering gait, blindness, aggression, dementia and coma. Your vet may refer to these signs as hepatic encephalopathy.

These signs are due to the build up of toxins in your pet’s brain, especially ammonia which is normally broken down into harmless components by the liver. On blood tests, your pet may have too few red blood cells (anemia) and your vet will probably detect elevated liver enzymes.

Common causes of liver disease include:

Bacterial infections


Blockage of the bile ducts from the gall bladder

Circulation disorders of the liver

Viral infections and viral diseases such as infectious hepatitis

Toxins that damage liver cells 

Toxins such as pesticides

Certain drugs such as corticosteroids

Anorexia in cats (causes Feline Hepatic Lipidosis)


Obstructions of the gall bladder

Other diseases ex. Diabetes, Cushings and Hyperthyroidism


Common reasons animals stop eating related to Fatty Liver Disease:

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

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. This is referred to as lipidosis. This is the body’s normal response to a spell of anorexia but the effects on the liver can be devastating. The fat that builds up in the liver cells prevents the bile produced from leaving the cells. The 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. Often the owner is not aware that rapid weight loss is dangerous. 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.

Herbal Nutrition - (listed in order of relevance and recommendation by holistic vets - human grade meets/exceeds highest safety criteria for pets)

Herbal remedies provide natural and alternative therapies to help remedy and improve liver, pancreas & gallbladder health in cats and dogs; to help alleviate symptoms of liver disease; to help support; rehabilitate and repair proper liver function, metabolism, bile production and flow; to help normalize and regenerate liver cells; to help detoxify the liver, kidneys and gall bladder and to help 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; helps to protect red blood cell formation, useful in diseases such as ehrlichia, ehrlichiosis.

Love Your Liver - (learn more) promotes the performance, health and repair of the liver, kidneys and bladder; helps repair cellular dysfunction related to the liver; helps facilitate renal and digestive excretions,; helps provide protection and detoxification from insecticides, toxins, vaccinations, an inappropriate diet and an excess of food; helps relieve symptoms such as pressure, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and flatulence; helps regulate kidney acid/alkaline levels, for hepatic lipidosis, Fatty Liver Disease (FLD),  Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS) and Feline cholangiohepatitis.

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; helps to treat urinary tract infections (bladder and kidney 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. This product has been proven to be 90% effective at addressing urinary tract infections, and all types of stones, gravel, calculi and crystals in dogs and cats.

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 (liver) immune function, useful in regulating excess weight and fatty deposits and may help regenerate liver and pancreas cells and detoxify the liver and pancreas.

Conventional Remedies:

A diagnosis will be based on a history of not eating 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 cat starts eating on its own again. If the cause for the anorexia can be determined this must be treated e.g. a course of antibiotics for an 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 be necessary to put your cat onto intravenous fluids.



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