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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cindy   bayonne, New Jersey

1/16/2015 8:29:36 PM

My maltese is 10 and just got a blood test result of high liver enzymes. I am a nervous wreck and doc suggested ultrasound to see exactly where the issue in the liver is coming from.

has anyone had any experience with switching diet to low protein/low
I will give her anything to help her enzyme level.

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Gina   Bonita Springs, Florida

1/13/2014 5:17:21 PM

I have a 12 year old doxie that went in for routine exams and found very high live count. She did have an ultra sound that showed a mildly rounded enlarged liver but the Dr said everything else was very tumors or gall bladder problem which can cause a liver count to be elevated. So he is putting her on meds to bring the count down and will re check. A liver with the right meds can repair itself. It's not a death sentence. It's worth looking into and getting the right meds.

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Elaine   Salt Lake City, Utah

10/21/2013 8:50:52 AM

My 13 year old shih Tzu is having ultrasound today for elevated liver enzymes of 1,740...........very anxious for results of test.

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Lisa   Salem, Illinois

7/2/2013 8:05:25 AM

My Lhaso Apso is over 10 years old, he is blind and nearly deaf and I had to board him these last few days due to my having some surgery. They suggested doing blood work on him as he seemed tired a lot and had loose stools. His liver levels were very high, alt is 437 and his other liver level is 659. They simply suggested putting him on the Science diet dog food LP. They did not mention the drug I have read about. I am afraid that too much damage has been done. He just has had no quality of life since going blind, it's so sad.

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