A dog’s liver rests against the diaphragm, next to the stomach in the abdominal cavity. The liver performs many necessary functions to prevent illness:
- filters and detoxifies blood coming from the intestinal tract and other parts of the body
- aids in fat and sugar metabolism
- production of bile (to be later stored in the gall bladder), proteins, and vitamins
Young dogs with liver dysfunction often have abnormal blood flow through the liver (portosystemic shunts). Older dogs may develop inflammation, infections, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and cancer. Symptoms of liver disease may be obvious, such as jaundice (yellow tint to the skin); however, many liver diseases are insidious in onset and may be found incidentally with routine laboratory testing. Regular wellness testing allows early detection of liver disease to begin treatment before irreversible damage has been done to the liver.