Is Elevated Liver Count in Dog Bad News?

A dog with an elevated liver count may be just fine.


Q. I just took my 7-year-old West Highland White Terrier to the vet. Her blood work revealed that her “liver count was up.” She is going to have follow-up blood tests soon. What do think they are looking for?

A. The results of routine lab tests can sometimes come back as abnormal, and this can wreak emotional havoc on dog owners and human patients alike.
Although early detection of disease is important to successful treatment, there are often circumstances where one or more of the values are up for no apparent reasons. The result can be expensive follow-up tests, anxiety, and possibly unnecessary treatments that carry significant side effects.
If your dog has routine screening tests, it is important to match up any clinical signs, or symptoms, with abnormal test results to help determine if the out-of-range result is significant and warrants follow-up.
In the case of liver tests, it is not unusual for one or two of the liver enzymes to be mildly to moderately elevate in a middle-aged dog. However, if there were to be signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever, loss of appetite or other changes that went along with the abnormal results, there would be more urgency.
Tests such as liver biopsies and ultrasounds can end up being costly wild goose chases for dog owners if there are no clinical signs to confirm possible liver disease.
I would discuss the need for further testing with your veterinarian, specifically asking what diseases are being considered. If your dog has been acting normal, it would not be unreasonable to suggest re-testing in another year, or sooner if anything changes.
One exception to this suggestion is in geriatric dogs (more than 10 years old). It is important to closely follow any abnormal blood values, and twice-a-year routine testing is recommended.


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Rhoda   Encino, California

4/30/2016 9:45:02 PM

My 7 year old female Maltese had blood work done yesterday and her ALP liver enzyme was

1556. The ALT 262.???

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daisy   jacksonville, Florida

3/14/2016 6:48:36 PM

My dog, a ten year old terrier, also has a liver count of 310. my vet wants to do expense testing on her, ultra sound on stomach, etch. She seems to be fine with no signs of problem I think I will just watch her and if she starts showing signs of problems, then I will take her to vet.

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Shannon   Corona, California

3/7/2016 2:06:01 PM

My Monster Dog, a 5 year old male maltese has extremely bad dental. I took him in for some doggy dental and they of course did blood tests first. All tests came back fine except is liver enzymes were around 310 and they should be closer to 100. They want me to fast him for 12 hours to run another bout of tests @ an additional $145.00. Is the test necessary? He eats, drinks, plays and seems fine except for the dental issue.

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Donna   Riverside, California

12/12/2015 6:30:51 AM

My 5yr old male dog was recently diagnosed with cushings. He has been on vetoryl for 5 months. His last cortisol test showed his levels in good range. However his live enzymes keep going up. Liver blood test showed level at 493 with normal range being 10-110. Vet is suggesting specialist. I hate putting my boy through even more testing. Anyone else experience such problems with Cushings dog?

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