When to Euthanize a Dog with Liver Failure? (Explained)

When to Euthanize a Dog with Liver Failure

Euthanizing your dog who’s suffering from liver failure can be a topic that is pushed aside. It can be heartbreaking to think about, or even consider. However, like anything – if you’re in pain long enough, there comes a time for an end.

If your dog is considerably suffering from liver failure, has extreme depression, and is showing signs of an inability to endure an adequate quality of life – it’s probably time to consider euthanizing your dog. A complete shutdown of the liver, consistent distress and an incapability to function are also signs that you might want to consider.

Euthanization is never an easy topic. It’s a possible loss in your life, which can bring on significant distress, sadness, and anxiety for you. But if your pooch is near the end, or is suffering considerably, you might feel prepared to let your dog go and no longer be in pain.

How Long Can a Dog Survive with Liver Failure?

If your dog has recently been diagnosed with liver failure, this can come with various emotions. And understandably, one of the main questions people like to know is how long they’ll have with their dog. Unfortunately, there is no exact answer to such a question.

Each dog, depending on their circumstances and stage of liver failure, might have longer than others. Usually, a dog with liver failure can survive anywhere from a few months to a year or two.

What are the Final Stages of Liver Failure?

Although hard to experience for both you and your pooch, it’s important to recognize the final stages of liver failure – to cope with what’s to come.

Here are some of the final stages that liver failure includes (but are not limited to):

  • Liver not functioning anymore
  • Canine depression
  • Yellowness in the eyes, skin, and gums
  • Incredible fatigue (or loss of movement)
  • Inability to function in life
  • Blood clotting
  • Consistent diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Termination of food and/or water consumption
  • Anorexia/weight loss
  • Seizures
  • Susceptible inflammation

How Long Can a Dog Live with End-Stage Liver Failure?

Each dog who has been diagnosed with end-stage liver failure will have varying time-frames for how long they can endure. Usually, a dog with end-stage liver failure will last anywhere from a few weeks (if lucky enough) but most times – just a few days (1 – 5).

Other times, the odds can be broken and some last longer than a year. Unfortunately, however, there is no true knowledge of how long your dog with end-stage liver failure has. As each case is different, with various circumstances, and odds to beat.

Is a Dog in Pain with Liver Failure?

Liver failure can cause pain for your dog but in varying degrees. Some dogs are believed to feel excruciating pain, physically and mentally. Whereas others might have mild symptoms – all the way until they pass.

Symptoms of a Dog with Liver Failure

Please note – if you suspect your dog is suffering from liver disease, we recommend seeing your trusted veterinarian as soon as possible. Here are 5 symptoms that your dog might have liver failure:

1. Your Dog Has Stopped Eating

Canine-anorexia or a noticeable decrease in food consumption is a common sign (accompanied by other symptoms) that your dog could be suffering from liver failure.

2. Jaundice / Icterus

Although jaundice in itself is usually not a reason for concern, when accompanied by other symptoms – there can be a significant problem going on.

3. Ongoing Vomiting

If your dog is unable to eat (or has stopped eating) and is continuing to vomit, this is a significant concern that your dog needs help.

4. Dehydration or Consistent Urination

Although these signs on their own should not always cause concern, dehydration and/or consistent urination accompanied by the symptoms mentioned above is a concern.

What Are the Symptoms of a Dog Dying from Liver Failure?

Here are some symptoms that your dog might be dying from liver failure, and it could be time to euthanize your beloved friend:

  • A complete inability to function (mentally and physically)
  • Ongoing symptoms with no change or an increased change
  • Canine-depression
  • Odd behavior, as if your dog is present by is suffering significantly
  • Uncontrollable blood clotting

It can be hard to identify whether your dog is on his way out, or is maintaining the symptoms he was originally diagnosed with. If you suspect your dog is dying from liver failure and is on his way out, we recommend taking time to spend a few moments (one-on-one) and paying a visit to the vet.

What Causes Sudden Liver Failure in Dogs?

Sudden liver failure, also referred to as Acute liver failure, can come on unforeseen. A decrease in condition can occur over weeks, and unfortunately for some, might lead to death within a matter of months. There are many reasons why acute liver failure in dogs might occur.

Exposure to poison is the most common reason, as well as a sudden infection. Both of these can trigger a strikingly rare occurrence of liver failure – and sometimes accompanied by other declining issues as well.

Undiagnosed imbalances, cancers, or similar can also cause sudden liver failure in dogs. Sometimes, you might not notice the symptoms, or maybe your dog never showed any signs before being diagnosed with liver failure. In these circumstances, the shock that comes to owners can hit harder. Continue reading to learn how you can provide care and comfort for a dog with liver failure.

How to Care for a Dog with Liver Failure?

Finding out that your dog has liver failure can be extremely sad, for both you and your pooch. Providing care and comfort for your dog during this time is the best thing you can do. But care and comfort will look different to everyone.

Here is a list of things you can do to properly care for a dog with liver failure:

  1. Pay close attention to his diet and support where appropriate
  2. Consider surgery as an option
  3. Support your dog by making life comfortable for him/her
  4. Permit the use of medicine to ease pain
  5. Ensure your dog maintains a level of fitness
  6. Identify when enough is enough (for your dog)

A dog with liver failure can create a whirlwind of emotions for you, as the owner. People often refer to it as a “rollercoaster” – given the unprecedented circumstances that come with it. As the owner, the best you can for both yourself and your dog is to try to maintain a good level of judgment, and support your dog where necessary.

What to Feed a Dog with Liver Failure?

Similar to kidney failure, dogs diagnosed with liver failure don’t necessarily need to be on a special diet. Unless you’ve been instructed by your veterinarian, a change is not always warranted.

However, some dogs with liver failure, especially those with elevated levels of enzymes will benefit from a diet change. Here are 3 nutritional tips to think about when feeding your dog with liver failure:

1. Energy-dense Foods

Liver failure has a huge effect on your dog’s energy levels, especially when nausea is accompanied. Energy-dense foods, even if taken in small portions, can still aid your dog’s well-being and efficiently assist the liver where possible.

2. Foods with Adequate Protein

Although a reduction in protein can support dogs with protein intolerance, it’s typically best to not make drastic changes in the protein you provide your dog or stop their protein intake altogether. The protein that you do provide your dog, however, should be of high quality.

3. Low Copper Foods

Too much copper, especially for dogs with liver failure, can cause damage rather than aiding their condition. Low copper foods can prevent toxin-buildup from releasing into their bloodstream, as well as assist in being able to manage their intake closely.

*Important note: For the benefit of your dog, we recommend that you consult with your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet or implementing alternative foods.

Can Liver Problems in Dogs Cause Bad Breath?

If your dog is suffering from liver problems, you’ll likely notice bad breath. When the liver is unable to function properly, your dog’s mouth will produce an extremely foul odor. This is because your dog is unable to disperse the bad toxins inside of his body. Liver problems and bad breath are usually accompanied by other symptoms.

These symptoms can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Yellow gums

Unfortunately, there is no extra amount of brushing you can do to prevent this odor from reoccurring. If your dog is suffering from liver failure, bad breath is something you’ll need to tolerate for the time being.

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