Pets liver disease diet tips

What is the best diet for cats and dogs with liver disease?

Diet plays an important role in pets’ recovery from (or management of) any liver disease. The best liver disease diet for your pet depends on the condition your pet is suffering from and its severity. For example, if your dog suffers from copper storage disease, then he needs to be put on a diet that is low in copper.

The best cat liver disease diet is not necessarily the best dog liver disease diet. However, there are some common dietary adjustments and nutritional supplements that are generally recommended for pets recovering, or suffering, from liver diseases. 

This article contains some general diet advice for pets with liver disease but... always consult with your Vet about the appropriate diet for your pet's specific liver condition.

Dog and cats eating together

What cat and dog liver disease diet should contain… and what not

It is common that cats and dogs with liver disease have reduced appetite. They may even refuse to eat at all. In those cases, force feeding with a syringe or feeding tube may be necessary to make sure the animal gets the right nutrition and calories.

When the initial condition has been brought under control it is important to start feeding again but some dietary adjustment is normally recommended to help the liver to recover. Even when the liver is damaged beyond repair, the diet still plays an important role in the management / supportive care of the disease.

Protein

What is the ideal protein intake for your pet depends on what liver disease your pet is suffering from and what stage it is.

It is important to bear in mind that not all protein is equal. High quality protein reduces the workload on the liver and studies have shown that non-meat protein sources (dairy, soy, and eggs) work better than meat sources for pets with liver diseases.

Protein restriction is sometimes recommended.

However, recent studies indicate that protein requirements are greater for pets that are recovering from hepatic disease. Dietary protein should therefore only be reduced if there is a sign of protein intolerance.

"The source of protein is important to survival and clinical signs in dogs with hepatic insufficiency. Dogs with experimentally produced disease and fed commercial dog food develop signs of hepatic encephalopathy and die within two to three months. Dogs with similar diseases and fed diets with protein from milk or soy beans develop no clinical signs and survive many months.3,4 This study is similar to others showing survival time and clinical signs to be worse when meat rather than milk protein is fed" (Dog Cat Home Prepared Diet)

Carbohydrates

Pets with hepatic disease need carefully regulated portions of high quality and highly digestible carbohydrates. White rice, potatoes, and vegetables are good source of simple and complex carbohydrates for pets with liver diseases.

Simple carbohydrates are easily digested and absorbed. While vegetables provide fiber (non-digestible complex carbohydrates) but fibre reduces the availability and absorption of toxins like endotoxin, bacterial toxins, and some bile acids.

Fats

High quality fats are important part of our pet's diet. Fat is good source of calories and essential fatty acids (that must be obtained through the diet). Fats also enhance the food palatability.

Numbers of studies have shown that cats and dogs with hepatic disease do well on diets containing 20 – 25% fat (Dog Cat Home Prepared Diet).

Sodium (salt)

The salt content should always be carefully monitored in feline & canine liver disease diet. Low sodium diet helps with ascites (extra fluid in the abdomen) but ascites is common in many hepatic diseases.

Diet tips for pets with liver disease

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Diet plays an important role in maintaining good liver health. It is also important in helping pets to recover from all forms of liver diseases.


Some dietary adjustments and nutritional supplements are generally recommended for pets suffering from liver diseases. These tips contain some general dietary advice for pets with liver disease but always consult with your Vet about the appropriate diet for your pet's specific liver condition.

Vitamins & minerals that support pets liver health

To help prevent deficiencies, the diet for pets with hepatic disease needs to be balanced with selection of daily vitamin and mineral supplements. The vitamin requirements of dogs and cats varies somewhat.

Dog and cat sleeping together

Vitamin K helps to control bleeding disorders in both cats and dogs (damaged liver produces and stores less of Vitamin K but it is needed for the liver to produce clotting factors)

Vitamin E as an antioxidant helps to remove free radicals and prevents continued oxidative damage to the liver (water soluble form is preferable for dogs and cats with liver disease)

Vitamin C may be needed for dogs as important part of the ascorbic acid is produced in the liver and it can be lower than normal if the dog suffers from hepatic insufficiency

B Vitamins are essential for the liver to perform its multitude of metabolic functions. Vitamin B and especially Thiamine supplementation is strongly recommended for cats as they become deficient quite quickly if they suffer from anorexia

Zinc reduces copper absorption but many dogs with hepatic disease also suffer from zinc deficiency

SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) is naturally produced by the liver and necessary for many functions of the liver cells but SAM-e synthesis is depressed in both cats and dogs with chronic liver disease

Vitamins to avoid, as they can worsen liver damage, are Vitamin A and Copper. Vitamin A can be hepatotoxic and can interact synergistically with other substances and damage the liver. Excess copper is also hepatotoxic and should be kept to minimal for pets with hepatic disease.

Recipes for pets with liver disease

Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD who is Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as an honorary member of the College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dr. Strombeck has practiced small animal medicine for over 50 years and is widely published.

On his website, he offers some recipes for homemade hepatic diet for dogs and cats that you may find helpful.

Finally again…

Always consult with your Vet about what is the best liver disease diet for your pet

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Supports your cat where and when they need it most

As cats grow older, they can face many of the same age-related health conditions as humans. Our unique stabilized SAM-e powder boosts liver and cognitive functions while easing joint discomfort and improves mood at the same time.

While maxxiSAMe is hard at work within your beloved cat’s liver and brain, expect marked improvements in attitude, energy, and the behavior of your cat.


The benefits

  • Effective support for liver and cognitive functions while easing joint discomfort
  • Boosted with additional valuable antioxidants and vitamins
  • Easy administration, can be given with food