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Treatment for Elevated Liver Enzymes and Liver Disease in Dogs

Has your dog been diagnosed with elevated liver enzymes, liver disease, or gallbladder disease? Liver problems in dogs often respond well to holistic treatments. The liver is vital for nutrient digestion, toxin removal, and vitamin storage. With aging, medications, and chemicals in our environment and food, the liver can become overloaded. High liver enzymes in dogs are common, but the liver can regenerate healthy tissue. Pets with compromised liver function, especially senior dogs with liver problems, can show significant improvement with a modified diet and natural remedies.

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What Does Your Dog's Liver Do?

The liver is the main filtering system for your pet's body since all blood supply travels thought it to be detoxified. Everything your dog eats, breathes or comes into contact with is filtered through your dog's liver to be processed and eliminated.

Your dog's liver performs many critical functions:

  • Metabolism of fats, protein and carbohydrates
  • Filtering of harmful substances from the blood (e.g. toxins and/or medications)
  • Storage of vitamins and minerals
  • Production of bile, which aids in digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Glycogen storage (involved in blood sugar regulation)
  • Synthesis of important proteins such as albumin and clotting factors
  • Red blood cell maintenance, in conjunction with the spleen

How Do You Know If Your Dog's Liver Is Healthy?

Many dogs do not show any outward signs of liver disease. Liver disease (elevated liver enzymes) may only be discovered in a laboratory test and/or a physical exam by your veterinarian.

The following are signs of liver disease in dogs:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the gums, whites of the eyes, or skin)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Changes in behavior (pacing, circling or even seizures)
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of energy
  • Ascites (buildup of fluid in the abdomen)

Dogs with liver disease may also have gallbladder problems. Symptoms of an inflamed gallbladder or bile duct are similar to those produced by liver disease and can include a loss of appetite, jaundice and vomiting.

Yorkie's Pancreatitis Improves Naturally!

"Layla is a 3 year old Yorkshire Terrier who was diagnosed with pancreatitis in October of 2008. Our vet wanted Layla to be put on canned prescription formula to manage this and I knew I couldn't do that because I didn't agree with the ingredients in these foods. I talked to a friend who had used Ask Ariel in the past for her Yorkie with great success. Our vet was quite sure that Layla's issues could not be managed with a home cooked diet but we were determined to try. From the moment I talked with Ask Ariel, I knew that Layla was in good hands and that through her help, everything would be fine. Layla was put on a strict diet, along with LypoZyme and Power Probiotic. Layla's Spec numbers went from 740 (under 400 is considered normal) in October, down to 164 in February. Our family is beyond thankful to Ask Ariel and all that they have done to save our girl from a lifetime of horrible canned food. I recommend Ask Ariel to anyone I meet who is considering home cooking or who is dealing with a dog with health issues. I just can't say enough about how knowledgeable the staff at Ask Ariel is and how deeply they care." - The Pluss Family

Elevated Liver Enzymes in Dogs

Why do elevated liver enzymes in dogs matter? Your dog's liver performs numerous essential functions to maintain overall health, filter blood, and regulate metabolism. Veterinarians often conduct a "hepatic panel" to ensure that your dog's liver enzymes are in balance. When a vet mentions that a dog's liver values are high, it's important to determine the underlying cause of the high liver enzyme diagnosis.

The hepatic panel includes values for the following liver enzymes:

  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
  • Alanine transaminase (ALT)
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
  • Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)
When your dog has high liver enzymes, your vet will often recommend some additional tests to determine the cause of elevated enzyme levels, but there are things you can do at home to help keep your dog's liver functioning properly.

Diagnosing Liver Disease in Dogs

Liver disease in dogs can be caught early with regular blood work. It is important to have an annual physical exam and laboratory testing done at your vet, especially as your dog ages. Young dogs may have a congenital liver conditions such as microvascular dysplasia or a liver shunt and the symptoms may not be apparent until the pet is one or two years old. A blood test may be the only way to know.

Elevated liver enzymes can indicate liver cell damage that has allowed enzymes to leak out of the liver and into the blood. High levels of the following enzymes may be seen in dogs with liver disease:

  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) - An enzyme found in liver cells. When cells are damaged, ALT can leak into the blood.
  • Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) - An enzyme produced by the biliary tract (liver) that can be elevated when something is damaging the liver. High levels can indicate bone disease, liver disease, Cushing's disease or bile flow blockage. Some ALKP elevation in older dogs is common.
  • Gamma Glutamyl transferase (GGT) - An enzyme produced in the liver, bile ducts, pancreas and kidneys. Elevations in GGT, especially along with elevations in alkaline phosphatase, can indicate impaired bile flow.
  • Total Bilirubin (TBIL) - Bilirubin is a yellowish brown byproduct from the breakdown of red blood cells. It gives color to jaundiced skin or eyes and to your dog's stool. Elevated bilirubin levels can be caused by a rapid destruction of red blood cells, a bile duct obstruction or liver damage.
  • Albumin (ALB) - Produced by the liver, albumin is a protein that helps control pressure in the tissues. When albumin is low, fluids can leak, resulting in a swollen abdomen. Low levels of albumin can indicate chronic liver or kidney disease, or parasitic infections. High levels indicate dehydration and loss of protein.

A urine analysis and X-rays can provide valuable information as well. If signs and symptoms indicate a dog’s liver is not functioning optimally, additional tests, such as a bile acid test, ultrasound and/or liver biopsy, may be used to determine the underlying cause. Your veterinarian will recommend medications, diet changes and potential surgical procedures upon determining the cause of your dog’s liver disease.

Miss Ladybug

"I wanted to share with you that last year Miss Ladybug was diagnosed with a possible Gallbladder Mucocele and the vet put her on Ursodiol but it made her very sick, so instead she has been taking the Liver & Gallbladder Supplement, Power Probiotic, and LypoZyme everyday faithfully. We just had another ultrasound check and this time they said everything looks good, that they wouldn’t even say that it's a Mucocele anymore - it just looks like a gallbladder and hasn't gotten bigger. Her blood work was also wonderful - kidneys and liver (everything actually) were in range. Not bad for a 13 year old puppy mill rescue :) They did find a little irritation in the intestines that they feel could be IBD so I knew right away that I would be getting your Soothing Digestive Relief formula this time too. Thank you so much for your amazing products because I truly believe they have extended my baby's life!" - Marissa, Colorado

Causes Of Liver Disease in Dogs

There are four main factors that increase the likelihood of your dog developing liver disease: age (more common in geriatrics), breed, obesity, and exposure to medications and/or chemicals. Conventional veterinary treatment for liver disease in pets depends on the cause of the illness. Common causes of liver disease in pets include:

  • Acute liver disease - due to an exposure to a toxic substance or excessive heat.
  • Bile duct obstruction - result of inflammation or infection of the duct; gallbladder mucocele or cholecystitis.
  • Hepatic lipidosis in cats - excessive accumulation of fat in the liver.
  • Side effect of medications - long term use of antibiotics, steroids, parasiticides (flea and tick control), barbiturates (to control seizure activity), NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
  • Viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections.
Certain dog breeds are more likely to be born with or develop liver disease. These breeds include Dobermans, rottweilers, Maltese, Yorkshire terriers and cocker spaniels. Bedlington terriers, Dobermans, West Highland terriers, Skye terriers, and Labrador retrievers are more susceptible to copper-storage hepatopathy. This condition results from the abnormal accumulation of copper in the pet's liver. It can lead to cell damage, chronic inflammation (hepatitis) and scarring of the liver (cirrhosis).

Holistic Approach to Treating High Liver Enzymes In Dogs

A holistic approach to treating elevated liver enzymes can significantly improve liver function and overall health. Treatment often involves a combination of dietary changes, the best liver supplements for dogs, and medications. Ensuring a fresh, low-fat diet rich in fibrous vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids helps support liver detoxification and reduce inflammation. Supplements such as milk thistle, SAMe, and dandelion root can help protect your dog's liver cells and enhance liver function. These supplements can help detoxify the liver, reduce inflammation, and promote the regeneration of liver cells. It's essential to work closely with your vet to monitor your dog's progress after introducing liver supplements and diet changes. This collaboration will give your dog the best chance for improved liver health and overall recovery.

ingredients in dog liver supplements

What To Look For In The Best Liver Supplements For Dogs

Most dog liver supplements contain ingredients like milk thistle, artichoke, beets, dandelion and S-adenosylmethionine. They help to cleanse, detoxify and protect liver tissue. At Ask Ariel, we use only human-grade ingredients so that you can feel confident about what you are giving your pup. All of our products are GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified ensuring stringent quality standards and guaranteeing the potency and purity. Many of these ingredients have been extensively studied in human and animal research.

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Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, can help support the immune system, provides anti-inflammatory effects and its antioxidant properties help to protect against free radical damage. Milk thistle has been recommended by holistic veterinarians for many years to support liver function and promote cellular regeneration. A recent animal study [1] showed that supplementing with silybin decreased liver enzymes and improved liver function of the dogs in the research group. Milk thistle should be used along with S-adenosylmethionine for dogs that are using NSAIDs and/or anticonvulsants, as long term use of these medications can affect the liver. Silymarin can help the liver flush out chemicals and toxins more effectively.

Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

Artichoke is scientifically proven to support liver metabolism and bile flow through the liver. A compromised gallbladder can lead to difficulty digesting fats, as the bile excreted from the gallbladder helps with digestion and the elimination of solid waste. Artichoke has been used in traditional medicine for diseases of the biliary and digestive tracts. It has antioxidant and hepatoprotective properties. Research suggests that artichoke may help maintain proper liver enzyme levels and protect liver cells from toxicity [2].

Beet Powder (Beta vulgaris L.)

Beets are packed with antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective properties. They are an excellent source of betaine, an amino acid that supports detoxification and the digestion of fats. Supplementing with beet root powder has been shown in studies [3] to improve liver structure and prevent liver damage.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion has been used since ancient times to prevent or treat liver diseases. It is loaded with phytochemicals (like carotenoids and terpenoids), vitamins and antioxidants. Dandelion also contain inulin, a prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your pet’s gut. Dandelion may help increase bile flow and prevent liver disease. A recent academic article [4] concludes that Taraxacum officinale should be considered as a natural therapeutic agent for chronic liver disease.


S-adenosylmethionine helps support liver health by supplementing metabolic activity, helping maintain glutathione levels (which is known to be protective and detoxifying for the liver) and supporting cell regeneration. S-Adenosyl methionine (SAM) is a biologically active metabolite derived from amino acids (ATP and methionine) during a methylation reaction. There is evidence [5] that SAMe is naturally depleted during liver disease and supplementing can support liver function and help to detoxify the liver and promote cell regeneration. SAM-e is widely recommended by veterinarians for dogs because it is safe and effective.

What To Feed A Dog With High Liver Enzymes?

Dogs with elevated liver enzymes fare best on a reduced fat diet rich in fibrous vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Vegetables can help naturally detoxify your pet's liver. Green vegetables contain not only valuable vitamins and minerals, but they also contain fresh enzymes and prebiotic fibers to cleanse the gut and support liver health.
  • Colorful vegetables such as squash, carrots, and beets contain antioxidants and beta-carotene. Adding assorted vegetables such as asparagus, green beans, carrots, okra, leafy greens and a few shreds of grated raw beet can help improve your dog's digestion and liver health.
  • Dandelion leaves contain Vitamin A, B, C, D and K, support bile flow and are a liver detoxifier, making them especially beneficial for pets with elevated liver enzymes.
  • Omega 3s in the form of fish oil and baked fish are also helpful.

Dog Liver Supplements

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Liver Support Kit - Contains three gentle supplements that work together synergistically to improve digestion of fats and protein, relieve pain and digestive discomfort and reduce ascites (swelling of the abdomen). Helps to optimize liver function while detoxifying from conventional veterinary medications and treatments.

Liver Support - A broad-spectrum product that is effective for pets with elevated liver enzymes and liver disease. It can help detoxify the liver when you are giving your pet medications, especially NSAIDs given for pain. It supports bile flow and healthy liver function.

Special SAMe - The single most important supplement to use if your dog has liver disease. Special SAMe supplements metabolic activity, helps maintain glutathione levels (which is known to be protective and detoxifying for the liver) and supports cell regeneration. An excellent liver protector for dogs.

Need Help?

We understand how hard it is when your dog is suffering from liver disease and we will do all we can to help. It can be confusing to know which supplements would be appropriate for your pet. Please email us at [email protected]. Please note that we cannot provide consultative advice due to veterinary regulations, but we will be happy to provide articles and information so that you can make an informed decision about what's best for your dog.

1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34174886/
2. https://doi.org/10.3109/13880209.2014.913066
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8698622/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8063808/
5. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/76.5.1177S

Originally published Dec 11, 2023
Updated Feb 15, 2024
Written by: Susan Davis, Pet Health Nutritionist, CCN
All pet treatment protocols and pet treatment supplements have been reviewed and approved by a veterinarian

Dog Liver Disease Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best liver supplement for dogs?

A high quality dog liver supplement should include natural ingredients such as milk thistle, SAMe, antioxidants and vitamins that help detoxify the liver. Ask Ariel’s dog liver supplements are made with ingredients that are scientifically proven to support liver function and promote cellular regeneration.

How can liver supplements for dogs help?

Natural dog liver supplements can help to detoxify the liver and support the liver as it regenerates healthy tissue. The liver cleans the body by removing harmful chemicals and waste products. When the liver becomes overloaded, toxins and waste can build up. This can cause many dogs with liver disease to have low energy and low appetite. Holistic dog liver treatments, especially when combined with a reduced fat, all natural diet can help repair and regenerate your pet’s liver cells.

How can I detox my dog’s liver?

High liver enzymes in dogs is quite common, but the liver is one of the few organs in the body that can regenerate healthy tissue. Detox your dog’s liver by using the best natural liver support supplements, feeding a liver friendly diet and reducing environmental toxins. Ask Ariel’s liver support supplements contain premium quality, human-grade ingredients that are scientifically proven to support both phases of liver detoxification. Our Liver & Gallbladder Support and Special SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine for dogs) are recommended by veterinarians nationwide because they are safe and effective products to detoxify your dog’s liver.

What do you feed a dog with high liver enzymes?

Pets with high liver enzymes and liver disease can benefit from a liver-friendly diet. Avoid treats containing chemical preservatives, fillers or artificial food colorings. A reduced fat diet with added omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and fish oil) along with freshly steamed vegetables can be helpful for dogs with elevated liver enzymes or liver disease. Colorful root vegetables, such as beets and carrots, contain antioxidants and carotenoids (beta-carotene) which can help to stimulate bile flow and help eliminate wastes. At Ask Ariel, we will include free liver diet tips on the packing slip that comes with your order.

How can SAMe and milk thistle support my dog’s liver?

SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine) and milk thistle are the most popular natural dog liver remedies to promote healthy liver function and support detoxification. Special SAMe is scientifically proven to reduce elevated liver enzymes. SAM-e also supplements metabolic activity by maintaining glutathione levels and supporting cell regeneration. Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, can prevent toxins from entering the liver, promotes cellular regeneration and improves liver function. Milk thistle contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can help to support the immune system. Ask Ariel’s Liver & Gallbladder Support contains amino acids, Vitamin A, ox bile and inositol to promote fat metabolism and an herbal blend of milk thistle, artichoke and beet powder to support detoxification and improve bile flow. SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine) and milk thistle have been recommended by holistic veterinarians nationwide to support liver function and detoxification.