What Causes Liver Failure in Dogs?

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A dog’s liver functions in the same way humans do. Needless to say, it is an organ of the utmost importance. The liver has multiple tasks. It is responsible for metabolizing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, ridding the body of certain toxins, cleaning ammonia from the bloodstream, and is host to lots of vitamins and minerals that are essential to your dog’s health.

Without the liver, a dog will die. If this workhouse of an organ fails, the dog will have a lifespan of days following, in which case it is recommended they are put down. Sadly, this is not uncommon, as liver disease is the 5th leading cause of death for canines.

Thus it is important that you educate yourself on what exactly causes liver failure in dogs. By arming yourself with this knowledge, you will be able to avoid certain substances that are harmful to a dog’s liver, further ensuring they lead a healthy and long life!

Causes of Liver Failure in Dogs

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The unfortunate truth is that there are an innumerable number of causes for liver failure in dogs, some of remain to be identified. The causes below are commonly thought to be the most prevalent.


Trauma can cause liver failure in dogs. This can be anything from an impact (if your dog fell or was hit by a car), bad bruising, a prolonged heat stroke, a hernia in the chest, or any type of injury that would affect the location of the liver. It is paramount that if your dog is injured and you suspect it may have affected their organs, that you have them evaluated and tested by a veterinarian. You do not want to ignore an injury only for the consequence to be a potentially fatal health condition.


Although more common in females and in niche breeds, a diet that is too ‘fat-heavy’ can effectively flood the liver and cause liver disease. It is important that you, as the owner, evaluate exactly what type of diet you administer to your dog, and ensure there is nothing potentially harmful in it.


This should be somewhat obvious being that the liver works to fight off infection and clean the bloodstream. Both bacterial and fungal infections can be the cause of a dog’s liver failure. Certain parasites like heartworms in dogs can be the root of it as well. If your dog constantly experiences infections (think tooth or ear), then that can be reason for concern.

If you know your canine recently kicked an infection, or that they have a propensity to contract them, take them to the vet and test for liver failure, if not simply for the peace of mind.


causes of dog liver failure_canna-pet

The unfortunate reality is that some commonly prescribed drugs for dogs can inadvertently be the cause for liver disease. Some of the drugs that can cause liver failure are below:

Whenever you are administering medicine to your dog, it is important to do your research, consult a professional, and keep a keen eye on the symptoms of certain conditions which can develop.


This is commonly agreed to be one of the most prominent causes of a dog’s liver failure. When we speak of toxins, we mean every sort. It could be toxins derived from household cleaning products (bleach, kitchen cleaners, certain odor removing sprays), pesticides, and even chemical-filled materials like paint chips.

Stay Educated

At the end of the day, veterinarians and researchers still do not know every cause of liver failure. It is something that can be hereditary, strike at random, and have seemingly no cause whatsoever. But the information we do have should be utilized, assessed, and acted upon.

An action as simple as keeping your dog outside while you clean your home could be the deterrent of liver failure. Ultimately, if you are worried about your dog developing liver disease, consult your local veterinarian to assess your canine and provide direction on how to ensure they never fall victim to the disease.

Lastly, know that the vast majority of dogs never develop liver disease or experience liver failure. So long as the proper steps are taken in preparation, there is no reason your dog will not live a healthy, beautiful, lengthy life!

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