Prognosis for canines with cirrhosis of the liver

Updated November 21, 2016

Cirrhosis of the liver is the end stage of many liver diseases that strike dogs. It is characterised by the presence of fibroids and scar tissue. Any progressive liver disease that causes inflammation, necrosis or fibrosis that cannot be successfully treated will result in cirrhosis.


Cirrhosis of the liver is most commonly the end result of idiopathic chronic hepatitis. However, it can be the result of a copper storage disease, breed disposition, some medications as well as infectious illness.


Cirrhosis is usually well advanced before it is diagnosed. Your dog may experience weight loss, appear jaundiced, have fluid accumulation in the abdomen and may experience neurological symptoms such as circling, dementia, blindness and coma.


There is no actual treatment for cirrhosis of the liver. The part of the liver affected is dead and cannot regenerate. However, with proper supportive care, your dog can survive for a year or more.


Veterinarians have had some success with a drug called colchicine, which reverses the scarring in the liver and prevents the formation of new scar tissue. A prescription diet and dietary supplements are also used to support the undamaged portions of the liver.


The actual cause of cirrhosis of the canine liver is usually undetermined. Therefore, the disease will continue to progress and will ultimately lead to death.

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