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Utilizing CBD For Liver Disease In Dogs 

Utilizing CBD for Liver Disease in Dogs 

The liver is a vital organ in canine biology. It is the second largest organ in a dog’s body (second only to the skin). The liver is involved in approximately 1,500 different processes that allow a dog to function and be healthy. This includes metabolizing various types of nutrients as well as breaking down toxins. Liver disease refers to any number of underlying conditions that cause the liver to malfunction. There are various avenues of treatment depending on the underlying condition. One viable option is using cannabidiol, or CBD. Using CBD for liver disease is a safe and natural remedy that treats the symptoms of liver disease.


What Are The Symptoms Of Liver Disease In Dogs?

Liver disease (also known as hepatic disease) in dogs is a potentially fatal condition, particularly if it is not treated promptly. Because of the liver’s vital role in canine biology, there are numerous symptoms present when it is not functioning properly. These include: 

  • Jaundice
  • Weakness and/or lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea  
  • Decrease in appetite
  • A swollen and/or bloated stomach
  • Seizures 
  • Loss in balance and/or unsteady walking
  • Fever


Jaundice is by far the most common symptom. It is characterized by a yellowing of the eyes or tongue and is caused by the body’s inability to metabolize bilirubin. This compound is yellow (hence the yellow color in the eyes and tongue) and is a byproduct of the body’s breakdown of red blood cells. It is usually excreted in urine and bile. If a dog is showing signs of jaundice, it is absolutely essential to get them to a veterinarian as it is almost certainly a sign of liver failure, bile duct obstruction, or both. 


Types Of Liver Disease In Dogs

In fact, “liver disease” is a general term that may refer to any number of underlying conditions.


The Five Basic Types Of Liver Disease Are: 

1) Infections

This refers to bacteria, funguses, parasites, and/or viruses that infect the liver and cause damage. Leptospirosis is a bacterium that is transmitted through urine. Adenovirus is a virus that causes hepatitis in dogs. Flukes are a type of parasite that can cause extensive damage to a dog’s liver. 


2. Toxic Plants & Chemicals

This refers to outside poisons or toxic elements that can harm a dog if ingested. Various plants, like groundsel, tulips, and daffodils can poison a dog’s liver. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener frequently found in human food, is extremely toxic for a dog’s liver. Chocolate contains two compounds, caffeine and theobromine, that will cause liver toxicity if ingested by the dog. 


3. Medications & Drugs

Even if prescribed by a veterinarian, there are certain drugs that can cause hepatic disease in dogs, including prednisone, phenobarbital, and tetracycline. 


4. Congenital Liver Disease

Certain dogs may have a genetic predisposition to developing liver disease. The two most common are portal systemic shunt (PSS) and copper storage disease. Both result in elevated levels of toxins in the body. 


5. Cancer & Tumors

The cancer can originate in the liver or spread (metastasize) into other parts of the body. The most common causes of liver cancer in dogs are parasites, exposure to toxins, and old age. 


There are also certain dysfunctions of the endocrine glands that can develop in to hepatic disease. The endocrine glands are part of a system in mammalian biology that secretes hormones throughout the body to control various functions. Diabetes (due to poor diet), hyper-adrenocorticism (also known as “Cushing’s disease”), and hyperthyroidism can all negatively affect the liver. In these cases, it is necessary to treat the underlying endocrine disease in order to restore proper function of the organ.


The liver is composed of cells known as hepatocytes. Hepatic disease damages these cells. If the disease progresses far enough it will result in necrosis (death of the hepatocytes) and eventual liver failure. 


How Can I Help My Dog With Liver Problems?

If any of the tell-tale symptoms are present in a dog, then it is absolutely crucial to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. The veterinarian will first order blood tests. This is to check if there are high proportions of certain toxins in the blood. For example, if the dog has copper storage disease, then levels of copper will be elevated. If liver enzymes like aspartate transaminase (AST), alanine transaminase (ALT), and/or alkaline phosphatase (ALP) appear in high levels, there is likely some form of liver dysfunction. Furthermore, if bilirubin (present in bile) and albumin (a kind of protein produced by the liver) have elevated levels in the blood, there is probably some form of liver disease. 


If the blood tests show any abnormal results, the veterinarian will likely order other procedures. These may include blood clotting tests, serum bile levels, a liver biopsy, and/or x-rays. Furthermore, certain conditions may necessitate surgical intervention. For example, dogs suffering from PSS have an extra vessel that bypasses the liver and causes ammonia to accumulate. If surgery is not possible, then various medications and supplements (including Denamarin) may have to be administered.  


Proper nutrition is also vital in treating liver disease in dogs. Generally, a low-protein diet is the best. This is because proteins are large, complex molecules that require a fully-functioning liver to properly metabolize. By limiting protein intake, the diseased liver is effectively spared the additional work it takes to break down these proteins. Furthermore, supplementing oxygen, high levels of fluids and electrolytes, and limited activity are also helpful for a dog suffering from liver problems. 



What Exactly Is Cannabidiol?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a derivative of the cannabis plant. It is an extracted component of industrial cannabis, also referred to as hemp. CBD oil is produced by applying tremendous pressure to the stalks, flowers, and leaves of hemp. 


CBD belongs to a group of compounds known as cannabinoids. These attach to cannabinoid receptors all over the dog’s body and have a multitude of positive effects. Because CBD is a cannabinoid that comes from a plant, it is known as a phytocannabinoid. The cannabis plant has over 80 different phytocannabinoids. 


CBD is very easily metabolized and has virtually no side effects for the dog. It is also not psychoactive like THC (the most well-known phytocannabinoid) so the dog will not become intoxicated or confused. It also has an excellent “safety profile” as it is impossible to overdose from CBD dog treats. 


CBD & Its Benefits For Dogs With Liver Disease

If the owner decides to administer CBD to their dog, it is important they do so under the guidance of a veterinarian.  Vets can monitor your dog’s condition as you are treating it. This is because CBD inhibits the function of cytochrome P450 liver enzymes. These liver enzymes are crucial in the metabolism of many veterinary medications. However, if the CBD is administered at a low enough dose, then it will not inhibit cytochrome P450. It will continuously provide therapeutic relief for the dog itself.  


Most veterinarians will instruct the owners to “go low and go slow” when starting CBD treatment for their dogs. This means that the owner can start at a low dose and slowly increase the dosage until the symptoms subside in their pet.  IT is advisable to start at 2 to 4 milligrams for a medium-sized dog from 40 to 60 pounds. 




CBD Can Be Beneficial In Treating Various Symptoms Of Liver Disease In Dogs. These include: 

Furthermore, research has shown that CBD inhibits the growth of tumors. It does so through various mechanisms, including helping the dog’s immune system more effectively target cancer cells and by metabolically blocking their ability to produce energy. CBD also helps boost the efficacy of conventional cancer treatments as well as decreases the side effects associated with them.


Other Benefits Of CBD For Dogs

CBD has various other benefits for dogs as well. These include: 


CBD is an innovative medicinal supplement that will improve the overall quality of life for the dog. It is ideal to take CBD on a daily basis to promote overall health and wellness. It can be administered in CBD oil form (in 150, 300, and 600 milligram bottles) or even as CBD dog treats that can be used to reinforce good behavior in the dog. Any dog, not just those suffering from hepatic disease, can benefit from a daily dose of CBD. 



Marcin Ossowski

Marcin Ossowski is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from UCLA in 2007 with a major in linguistics and a minor in biology. During his time there, he undertook original research in neurolinguistics and cognitive science, specifically focusing on language disorders and dementia. Over the past decade, he has worked as a writer and researcher for several political consulting firms, taught English abroad in Poland, and ghostwritten two books. In his downtime, Marcin spends a lot of time outdoors and actively pursuing his passion for writing fiction, creative nonfiction, and satire.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Do you know if using cbd oil for my 14 year old miniature dachshund while she is taking denamarin for her liver is safe? I saw a few articles that stated cbd could interact with some medications. Thanks for the informative article!

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