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Dr Scott Nimmo
Dr Scott Nimmo, Small Animal Veterinarian.
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20421
Experience:  BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }
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Dog has extremely elevated liver enzymes

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My vet is gone for the weekend and my dog's blood panel came back with extremely elevated liver enzyme levels on both AST - 639 and ALT - 655 her BUN Creatinine Ratio was 30 Everything else was normal. She is a 6 year old Chihuahua. Here usual meal (twice a day) consists of about 1 Tablespoon of Evanger's pure beef / liver / duck or buffalo, a teaspoon of pumpkin and about two teaspoons of her Fromm's dried low fat kibble (Surf n Turf). Once a week she gets an egg with a teaspoon of pumpkin or I give her a bit of chicken or the odd green bean. When her blood results came in, my vet left Milk Thistle tincture for me to add to her food twice a day and Chinese Herbs called Xiao Yao Wan - (she is a holistic vet) to take twice a day. I'd like to alter my dog's diet, but I cannot find any guidelines to follow, other than Dr Dodd's liver cleansing diet for animals, which consists of cod or white chicken, beans, new potatoes and sweet potato. Can you advise me if this sounds right or if I need to make changes to her regular diet? How much and how often should I feed her if I do cook for her, as I don't want to over or under feed her.

I'd prefer if a conventional / holistic vet answered the question,

Thank you.

Hello, and welcome to Just Answer,

Sorry to hear about your Chihuahua's problem.

My name isXXXXX am an experienced small animal veterinary surgeon and I will be very pleased to work with you today and will try my best to answer your question to your satisfaction.

Please give me ten minutes or so to think through your particular problem, prepare an answer, and type things up. I will then get straight back to you and we can talk things over.


Hello again Arlene and thanks for waiting.

I have worked out an answer for you, please read it through and see what you think, ... lets get started.

1. Firstly I have to tell you that there is a commercial prescription diet for dogs with liver disease. { I/d Canine Hepatic Health } This has been specially formulated to reduce the workload on the liver and to help improve liver function. I have prescribed this to dogs with liver disease many times over the years and my experience is the it is very often of benefit.

I know that some owners may want to formulate their own food for their dogs and this is fine in healthy dogs but with dogs which unfortunately have a chronic disease of some sort this would rarely be good as the commercial prescription alternatives. What you would be doing is re-inventing the wheel and not a very good wheel at that!

If you were to put your dog on this type of diet and Milk Thistle then this could well help, this combination would be one of the best things you could do.

Link to Hills I/d Canine Hepatic Health : LINK

2. In the meantime until you can get supplies of the prescription diet following a bland diet such as Dr Dodd's liver cleansing diet would be a very good idea. Make any changes to diet gradually though.

I hope I have covered your question fully enough but if you would like further clarification or to talk things over a bit more then I will be on-line for the next hour or so and I will be more than pleased to continue working with you.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Scott,


Thanks for getting back to me.

This is the first time I have used this service, so I am not too familiar with the timeframe.


I am very much into complimentary medicine - prevention rather than cure and before I change my girl over to the Hill's diet, I have to find out what caused this.

More and more, our animals are getting our illnesses and I blame this in large, on commercial foods with additives and chemicals and chemical spraying - especially in Florida where I live. The yards are sprayed for weeds and insects and our animals ingest this when they chew the grass.

GMO foods which are known to kill livestock are used as fillers in a lot of these foods and there are quite a lot of holistic vets who are not fans of the Science Diet because of this.

Some of the ingredients I do not like are: corn starch, soybean meal, Menadione Dimethylpyrimidinol Bisulfite and corn gluten meal. Our animals do not need this and there is a site which explains why:


I will be re testing my dog in about 3 weeks to see if the milk thistle and the herbs have had any effect on her numbers.

If her numbers are still high, I suspect they might want to investigate further to see what is going on.

At that point, if my only option is the Hill's diet, then that is what I will give her. I am hoping and praying that at the age of 6, and with a lot of care over her diet and treatment, we are able to reverse the problem and avoid having to feed her the same canned food for the rest of her life.

I realize that you are not a holistic vet, which is why I specifically wanted to consult with one over the weekend. I also do not expect you to fully understand where I am coming from, but Hill's is full of additives - the sources of which are not fully explained.

If you have any further information on diet - which is not Hill's, I'd be most grateful to find out what it is.







Hello again Arlene,

I am not against alternative medicines or indeed the holistic approach to treating animals and indeed have done this many times in the past,perhaps more than the average vet. But you have to be careful which cases you use an alternative approach with and which ones you use mainstream medicine with. Take diabetes in the dog for example, insulin is the only way to go, while it has drawbacks it will save the dog's life.

I think you find yourself in much the same position with your Chihuahua, sure the Hills range of dog foods does have additives etc. and I know there is a body of opinion on the internet against Hills products but my experience is that if you use Hills I/d Canine Hepatic Health dog food then there is a very good chance it will over time help get the liver enzymes down and be beneficial to your dog.

It is all a matter or balance and weighing things up on an individual basis, for your dog, in your dog's situation then it could well be that the potential benefits would far outweigh any perceived risks.

Good luck,

Dr Scott Nimmo and other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Hello again Arlene,

Just a short note to thank you very much for the good rating, this is very much appreciated.

Kindest regards and good luck with your Chihuahua... ,

Hello again Arlene,

I am just getting back in touch to see how your dog is getting on with the liver problem.

How are things going now?


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Scott,


Thanks for checking up on Minky. She seems to be doing well, though we won't know until she has her follow up blood work on the 8th of July. She is not in liver failure, so I'm hoping that with the diet and supplements, her numbers will begin to normalise.


She has been on a balanced dehydrated diet from two commercial (holistic) food sources: Sojo's and Honest Kitchen together with Milk Thistle and Chinese Herbs - the last two have been prescribed by my vet.


I have kept her proteins to egg, wild cod, hormone free white chicken and turkey and sometimes fat free cottage cheese. The research that I have done - and it is quite extensive, seems to promote a similar short term diet of a high quality protein and the Sojo's and Honest Kitchen diets are both totally balanced. I guess I will have to see if this has had any effect on her numbers after the blood work.

I may keep her on the non processed diet indefinitely if this seems to be agreeing with her. It's a bit more planning and preparation, but she is worth it.


Thanks very much for checking in and I hope to report better numbers next time around.


Kind regards,



Hello again Arlene,

Thanks so much for the update, I was wondering how she was doing.

Hang on in there ...