How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Gary Your Own Question
Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 19764
Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
Type Your Veterinary Question Here...
Dr. Gary is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hi, My mini Schnauzer, Violet, is 13 years old and has been

This answer was rated:

My mini Schnauzer, Violet, is 13 years old and has been diagnosed with polycystic liver disease. Her liver enzymes are highly elevated but she seems healthy and enjoys her food and always ready for a half hour walk. My Vet has recommended surgery on her liver to remove some of the cysts but I do not want to put her through such a painful and invasive procedure at her age when she seems healthy and happy. I would rather go with a more holistic approach first and have changed her drinking water to filtered, only give her free-range slightly cooked chicken with organic rice and vegetables, plus I add an organic crushed 'chlorophyll plus' tablet. Violet seems to be responding to this new diet and is full of energy. I have also read that polycystic liver disease goes hand in hand with polycystic kidney disease, is conjenital and is not uncommon in mini Schnauzers. How long can my dog live with this condition? Many thanks, Glenda
Hello, I'm Dr Gary. I've been practicing veterinary medicine since 2007. I look forward to helping with your questions/ concerns.

I would also not prefer to go to surgery with her. If there are cysts in multiple liver lobes, then you will end up having to remove multiple lobes of the liver. It's not easy to just remove the cysts. It would be ideal to get a liver biopsy of one of them- via ultrasound guided needle biopsy. This will tell you that it's benign lesions as opposed to a liver cancer. It would just give you a better idea of the prognosis. If it's benign cysts, then she can live a full and normal life with these. If it's cancer, then the prognosis is not very good.

As for treatment, I would use a liver supplement like Denosyl (aka SAMe). You can give 90 mg once daily. This can be given lifelong. You could also use Milk Thistle as a liver supplement. The dose range is pretty wide, anywhere from 50-250 mg per day. If you want to use a product that contains SAMe and Milk Thistle together, you can get it as a drug called Denamarin.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.

Dr. Gary and other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Dr. Gary,


Thank you for your response. Yes, Violet has had an ultrasound and liver biopsy which showed the cysts to be benign but several in her liver and also her intestines. Her abdomen was also quite full of fluid which makes me think her kidneys are also affected. My Vet has not answered my concerns and only wants to perform surgery stating that is the best option. My gut instinct is that it is NOT!


The supplements you mention, Denosyl and Denamarin, do I need a prescription for these? Because it might be easier to go with the Milk Thistle? I have also read that 'Vital Greens' are also very good for dogs with liver conditions?

Those supplements are all available over the counter at many human pharmacies or through a vet clinic. They do not require a prescription.

I have not used Vital Greens, so I can't really comment on their efficacy.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Dr. Gary. You have been most helpful. Many blessings, Glenda & Violet woof!

You, and Violet, are very welcome!