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Hello everyone, recently my family got a dog for the first time, a wonderful Coton female dog we named Oreo. She is about 7 months old and the whole family loves her. Recently we took her in to be neutered and they gave her a blood test and found her liver might not be working properly. Her ATL was at 370 and we did a second blood test with the vet and the number was consistent with the first. We are very concerned and a bit unsure what comes next. The vet says that we will have to do a bile test in ten days and leave the dog there for a few hours. The vet was not very forthcoming with what could be wrong with the dog and so we are all very worried. We actually got a lot of medical cost covered at this particular vet when we bought the dog (we bought it at a store, it had all its papers from the American Kennel Club and the medical covers most problems for 5 years after purchase as long as we use this vet).

My questions are 1) how common are liver problems in small dogs? 2) What is the worse case scenario if the liver is not function? Would it be medication? diet? something worse? 3)Should we be looking for a second opinion or stick with this vet?

Thanks,

Andrew
 

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Hello everyone, recently my family got a dog for the first time, a wonderful Coton female dog we named Oreo. She is about 7 months old and the whole family loves her. Recently we took her in to be neutered and they gave her a blood test and found her liver might not be working properly. Her ATL was at 370 and we did a second blood test with the vet and the number was consistent with the first. We are very concerned and a bit unsure what comes next. The vet says that we will have to do a bile test in ten days and leave the dog there for a few hours. The vet was not very forthcoming with what could be wrong with the dog and so we are all very worried. We actually got a lot of medical cost covered at this particular vet when we bought the dog (we bought it at a store, it had all its papers from the American Kennel Club and the medical covers most problems for 5 years after purchase as long as we use this vet).

My questions are 1) how common are liver problems in small dogs? 2) What is the worse case scenario if the liver is not function? Would it be medication? diet? something worse? 3)Should we be looking for a second opinion or stick with this vet?

Thanks,

Andrew
So sorry your pup is having abnormal results at such a young age. That is definitely scary! I've worked as a vet tech and seen liver issues in quite a few patients.

To answer your questions the best I can...

1) I wouldn't say they're "common", but they're certainly not unheard of. Liver shunts are a more common health concern for a lot of small breeds, including cotons.

2) It depends on what's going on. If this is a liver shunt, then in general, they can be managed with a diet change and supplements that the dog must be on for life. Some can also be repaired surgically. It just depends on where the shunt is. It could also be temporary damage from a toxin she ingested without you knowing. Things like Tylenol can do this. A temporary switch to a hepatic/liver-friendly diet and monitoring may be all it takes and often the values go back to normal. And of course, worst case could be cancer, though that would be unusual for a dog her age.

3) I'm not sure what if any financial constraints you have, but if you can afford it, I would consider asking for referral to a specialist after you get results back. Likely an internist. The next step is likely an abdominal ultrasound. If the bile acids suggests a shunt, then the ultrasound will show where it's at. If it's in an area where it can be surgically repaired, then you can be referred to a specialist surgeon. I would not have that surgery done by your normal vet because most normal vets don't have the experience or training. Even if they offer to do it, request referral if you can afford it. If it can't be surgically repaired, then an internist can give you good instructions on how to care for your dog. She will likely need supplements like milk thistle, dandelion, SAM-e etc. to help her body detox and process toxins. She will also likely need a diet change so her liver doesn't have to work as hard. This is where I would suggest seeing a canine nutritionist or integrative vet. A normal vet will prescribe the Hill's hepatic diet. Though it does work and does the job, you might be interested in exploring other options like a home made diet.

If the bile acids is normal, then the ultrasound would show any other abnormalities that may be causing an issue. A veterinary internist would likely also be the next step because you'll need to have more diagnostics done to figure out what is causing the issue.
 
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