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Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19148
Experience:  15 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian
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What does a liver do for a dog I took my dog into the vet

Customer Question

What does a liver do for a dog? I took my dog into the vet this morning and the vet called and said he has a mass on his liver and it is only a matter of time before he dies. Is there anything that can be done? He is a pure golden lab. Sheila
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 8 years ago.

Sorry to hear about your dog. The liver is an important organ in helping dogs and us process foods we eat and metabolize drugs we take. It is also important for making clotting factors and is a storage unit for sugar. A mass on the liver does not mean the liver is no longer working though. Some types of cancer involving the liver can be bad but some can be benign and therefore removal of the mass can be curative. It all depends on the type of cancer it is... just as in people there are aggressive cancers that spread quickly and some that do not spread at all and are benign. Either type can be on the liver. If your dog is bleeding from the cancer, and has blood in the belly this is often a bad type of cancer and can spread fairly quickly.

If your vet did not do so already, some steps that can be taken to help determine what the prognosis is would be to have an abdominal ultrasound done to look at the mass and make sure it is on the liver. Also with the ultrasound they can see if there are other masses (metastasis) in the abdomen... this is not a good finding. Other helpful tests include blood work to evaluate how well the internal organs are functioning and to assess for anemia or low platelets and chest x-rays to look for spread of disease to the chest. If your vet is unable to perform these tests for you, he can give you a referral to a bigger hospital capable of these tests or to a university depending on where you live.

I'm sure this was a horrible shock for your family. If you need more information to make decisions for you lab know it is available. Whether you have your vet do further testing or have him refer you to someone who can.

Best of luck in any case. Let me know if I can be of further assistance.
Dr. Bruce