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Hepatic Lipidosis in Dogs and Cats

Hepatic Lipidosis in Dogs and Cats

Herbal nutrition to help address hepatic lipidosis and help support and detoxify the liver in dogs and cats. 

The liver is a complex organ that is critically linked to many other organs in the body,  including the intestinal tract, cardiovascular system, kidneys, and autonomic nervous system. The liver also provides systemic support to the gallbladder, helps 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 tasks 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. It also supports immunity, and digestion by producing bile and is essential for detoxification of a variety of toxic compounds that your pet encounters daily. When your liver doesn't function properly, toxins will build up, digestion will be affected and there may be a shortage of essential substances such as glucose, vitamins and minerals.

Hepatic Lipidosisalso known as fatty liver disease, is a condition in which excessive fat accumulates in the liver cells, causing abnormal bile flow in the liver and reducing proper liver (hepatic) function.

A number of conditions can affect the liver, including bacterial infections, tumors, blockage of the bile ducts from the gall bladder, circulation disorders of the liver, viral diseases such as infectious canine hepatitis and a variety of toxins that may damage the cells of the liver.

Liver disease is the most common type of disease in cats, with Himalayan and Persian breeds at greater risk. It is especially common in overweight cats. Your cat or dog 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: they may dislike the food provided, they may be in pain, ill or might suffer from environmental stress or anxiety.

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. Conversely, in cats, mixed breeds are more predisposed. 

The onset of the symptoms of liver disease can be quick (acute) or ongoing (chronic). 

Symptoms of Hepatic Lipidosis 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




The causes of liver disease include:
Viral infections
Bacterial infections
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, Cushing’s, Hyperthyroidism, tumors, cancer

Other reasons animals stop eating related to hepatic lipidosis:
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 dog or 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 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. Often the owner is not aware that such a thing is dangerous and is pleased to see the obese cat trimming down. 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 for this disease or condition (Human Grade meets highest safety criteria for pets)

Herbal remedies provide natural and alternative therapies to help provide critical nutrition to cells, organs and tissues in the body; may help alleviate symptoms of liver disease; may help support, rehabilitate and repair proper liver function, metabolism, bile production and flow; may help normalize and regenerate liver cells; may help detoxify the liver, kidneys and gall bladder; may help unburden the body be releasing toxic load build up and may help support healthy immunity.

Hepa Protect – (learn more) supports proper liver function, metabolism, bile production and flow, rehabilitates the performance, health and repair of the liver, kidneys, bladder and gall bladder, 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, reduces uric acid, for gall bladder inflammation, gall stones and gallbladder infections, for renal colic and renal calculi.

Stix & Stones – (learn more) promotes 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 oxalate, 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.

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 also be necessary to put your cat onto intravenous fluids.

As a conscientious pet owner you obviously wish to do all you can to restore your pet to health and vitality. Seeing your cat so ill will be very distressing and certainly all options for treatment should be investigated.
Depending on the cause of the liver disease, treatment may or may not be possible.

Treatment options might include:
Intravenous fluids
Blood transfusions
Ursodeoxycholic acid
Vitamin and mineral supplements
Force feeding a high calorie diet



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