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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 9452
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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I recently lost my little 8 yr old chihuahua to liver failure.

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I recently lost my little 8 yr old chihuahua to liver failure. He was gone within a week, only symptoms were poor appetite, acting tired, and fever. No vomiting, diarrhea, etc. They did lots of tests, xrays, blood work and everything looked ok. A few days later, liver enz were elevated. We went to the vet 5 days, then emergency vet clinic and passed away, the vet said he developed DIC. I have 3 other chihs. I had the 2nd oldest, 6 yr old liver enz tested. Her liver enz are also elevated, double the normal values. I sent her to a IM vet and had an us of the liver which was normal. I am waiting the vets call for repeat liver enz. and had other 2 chihs tested. Could it be something in their food, viral, bacterial? I didn't know anything was wrong, took Spike to the vet the first day he acted ill and still we had such a bad outcome. I don't want a repeat of the first but just don't know what to do. My vet said sometimes slightly high liver enz could be normal for my dog. Is this true. I worry about their food, treats- if all have elevated liver enz, could I be poisoning them with their food?
Hi, I'm Dr. Deb. I recently came online and see that your question about Sadie, Sasha and Rudy hasn't been answered. I'm sorry that you've had to wait for a response but if you still need assistance, I'd like to help if I can.

First, let me express my condolences on losing Spike; I know this must have been heartbreaking for you.

I agree with your vet that mildly elevated liver changes can be normal for some dogs as they age but I would need to see the exact values in order to say more than this.

Often we don't have a good explanation for why dogs develop liver disease although food is rarely, if ever, the underlying cause, especially if the food and treats you're feeding haven't been on a recall list.

Liver disease can be secondary to bacterial infections such as Leptospiroris (LINK) or inflammation or cancer or certain drugs or toxins (mold or mushroom toxicity).
If multiple dogs develop liver issues, then we'd want to examine the environment for possible sources of contamination such as toxins or access to stagnant water in which wildlife might have urinated (a common source of Leptospirosis).

And sometimes there can be acute insults to the liver such that enzymes might be elevated but then return to normal. We seldom have a good explanation for why this happens, either.

If your 6 year old's values are normal when retested, then just such an acute injury might have occurred. But if they're still mildly elevated and the ultrasound was normal, then without a biopsy, we wouldn't know for sure the underlying cause. And, sometimes, even with a biopsy, we won't know the underlying cause. In cases like this, I might suggest Denamarin as a liver supplement and then monitor the values every 3-4 months if the dogs are otherwise healthy.

But, I hope I can reassure you that your food has little to do with these elevations. I also hope that the values will be within the normal range when the tests are redone.

Again, my apologies for the delayed response to you. Deb

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Thank you for the rating and bonus; they are greatly appreciated.

Good luck with this situaiton.

Please kindly ignore the information request. Regards, Deb