Causes of Liver Disease in Dogs and Cats
The potential causes of liver disease are numerous and include viral infections such as infectious canine hepatitis or feline infectious peritonitis virus, bacterial infections such as leptospirosis, certain parasites, toxins including pesticides or vaccinations, cancerous processes, and drugs such as Phenobarbitol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and steroids. Obstruction of the bile ducts from the gall bladder may also lead to liver disease. In many cases, abnormal immune system responses may affect the liver potentially leading to liver disease. Other diseases, including diabetes, Cushing's Disease, hyperthyroidism, and pancreatitis all may cause secondary liver changes. Stress and obesity may predispose certain cats to hepatic lipidosis.
Pets Most at Risk for Liver Disease
All pets are susceptible to liver disease. There are certain breeds, however, that are at increased risk. These breeds include Yorkshire Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Scottish Terriers, Schnauzers, Malteses, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, and German Shepherds. There does not appear to be a breed predilection in cats, although obese cats are more prone to fatty liver disease, known as hepatic lipidosis. Younger pets are predisposed to a specific genetic circulatory problem of the liver known as a portosystemic shunt. This may lead to nervous system signs in severe cases.