Dog Liver Enzymes
Your dog's liver is a multitasking organ. It has roles in blood clotting, toxin filtering and waste elimination. It also stores fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and produces bile, essential for proper fat metabolism. Therefore, if the liver gets damaged or is in poor health, your dog's body won't detoxify the various metabolic waste and by products. The liver produces several enzymes while performing these tasks. Liver enzymes present in your dog's blood at higher than normal levels are a sign of liver disease and poor liver health. Damaged liver cells leak enzymes. The greater the cellular damage, the higher your dog's enzyme blood count will be.
If the levels of these helpful liver enzymes are too low, your dog's liver will not be able to accomplish the various tasks that it is designed to do, and you'll run into major problems for your pet's health. This can be a sign of liver failure. This is fairly rare in the cases that we see. Most often it will be that your dog's liver enzymes are elevated.
My dog’s liver enzymes are elevated or are too low. Now what should I do?
Elevated liver enzymes in dogs can cause your veterinarian to become concerned, as can liver enzymes that are too low. But, perhaps your dog is acting fine, and the elevated liver enzymes show up on a routine blood panel. Or perhaps your dog is acting sick—maybe vomiting or not wanting to eat—and your vet has discovered liver enzyme abnormalities. Either way, you’re wondering what it means for your dog.
There are several enzymes that vets look at on a blood panel that can be related to dog liver disorders. Some of the enzymes are normally contained within the liver cells and are only released into the bloodstream if those liver cells are damaged. Other enzymes spill into the bloodstream if there is sluggish flow of bile from the liver to the intestines. Some of the enzymes are produced by other organs besides the liver.
As an organ, the liver has a variety of life-sustaining functions. It detoxifies the blood, produces bile to help digest nutrients in the intestinal tract, and makes important body proteins like albumin and clotting factors. If the liver's health is poor, than elevated liver enzymes may be one of the first signs that changes need to be made to your dog's nutrition.
What are dog liver enzymes?
Enzymes are chemicals that perform vital reactions in the body. In the context of blood testing, they are an indicator of a disease process occurring in an organ. The enzymes that veterinarians usually look at with regard to the dog's liver are called AST, ALT, ALKP and GGT.
AST (aspartate aminotransferase). This enzyme is stored in the liver cells as well as muscle cells. Damage to the liver (such as from a toxin or infection) that ruptures cells will allow AST to spill into the bloodstream. Similarly, damage to muscle cells (such as from trauma) will spill AST. Normal range is considered to be 5 to 55.
ALT (alanine aminotransferase). Like AST, the ALT enzyme resides within the dog's liver cells and is released into the blood with cell damage. Unlike AST, it is fairly specific for liver damage, as it is not produced by other organs in the dog's body. Normal range is considered to be 5 to 107. Off the charts range is 2,000 to 4,000+
ALKP (or ALP) (alkaline phosphatase). Whereas AST and ALT are elevated when there has been damage to liver cells, ALKP becomes elevated when the flow of bile from the liver to the gall bladder to the intestines is hindered. ALKP is also produced by intestines, bone, and kidney tissues. The bone variant of ALKP can be elevated in puppies (due to rapid bone growth) and in cases of bone disease, particularly bone cancer (osteosarcoma). Elevations of ALKP can also be induced by medications, particularly corticosteroids (prednisone, dexamethasone) and phenobarbital (an anticonvulsant). ALKP will also frequently be elevated in dogs with Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism), an overactive adrenal gland. Normal range is considered to be 10 to 150. We have seen numbers as high as 12,000+
GGT (gamma glutamyl transpeptidase). Like ALKP, the GGT enzyme is an indicator of an abnormality in the flow of bile. Although GGT is also made by the dog's kidney and pancreas, an elevated blood level usually indicates a liver disorder. Normal range is considered to be 0 to 14.
It is important to realize that if there is permanent destruction of liver tissue and scarring (cirrhosis), the liver enzymes may actually return to near-normal levels. In advanced cases of liver failure, the ALT and AST could be normal, but other indicators of liver failure might be seen, such as low albumin, blood sugar, and clotting factors and possibly Ascites (abdominal fluid).
What are symptoms of dog liver problems?
Sometimes, there won’t be any obvious symptoms of a problem until liver disease is quite advanced. For this reason, many veterinarians recommend periodic wellness blood panels, to try to detect problems with your dog's liver and other organs before irreversible damage has been done.
General symptoms of liver problems include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity level, and jaundice (a yellow hue to the white of the eyes, gums and skin). Other symptoms that may be seen with certain liver disorders include seizures, increased thirst, increased urination, behavioral abnormalities, distended belly, or pain in the front part of the abdomen.
Abnormal liver enzyme levels unfortunately don’t tell us exactly what is wrong with the liver, just that "something" is wrong with the liver. Further tests are recommended by your vet to clarify the exact problem.
Your veterinarian may do a complete blood count (CBC, to measure the red and white blood cell levels), urinalysis (to assess kidney function and look for crystals that could be related to liver disease), Bile Acid Test (a blood test measuring liver function), coagulation panel (to assess the clotting factors), x-rays, bacterial culture, ultrasound (to visualize the liver, looking for masses or inflammation), biopsy (to get a small piece of the liver tissue to send to a pathologist for an exact diagnosis), laparoscopy (scoping the belly to look directly at the liver), and blood levels of drugs like phenobarbital or toxins like copper.
If you choose to go down this traditional medical path, realize that each test and procedure can be more invasive and more expensive. Ultimately, if a liver shunt is found, surgery may be recommended.
The traditional veterinary approach looks at a liver shunt as if it is the CAUSE of your dog's health problems. In our experience it is not. A liver shunt is only a more serious symptom of poor liver health. This poor liver health indicates that a better nutritional approach is needed for your dog. It is really quite simple.
We recommend taking an entirely different path. Further tests may be unnecessary. Save your money. An Ultrasound is very often inconclusive and provides no or little useful information for the cost involved. A Liver Biopsy is a dangerous, invasive procedure that can cause internal bleeding. It also provides no or little useful information.
If elevated liver enzymes indicate that something is wrong with the liver, why not address the underlying possible cause, which often is poor nutrition? Why go down the traditional medical path when by taking an entirely different path you can heal your dog’s liver once and for all? - FOREVER! Your dog deserves a long and healthy life. Merely finding and treating symptoms with drugs and surgery will not accomplish this. Only by getting to the root cause of poor liver health can you put your dog on a path to long lasting optimal health, and a long and healthy life.
You may be wondering why your vet cannot help you in this regard? Unfortunately the majority of veterinarians get no nutritional training studying for their degree. Their approach is limited to a prescription commercial dog food diet and medications. Your vet has basically two tools in their "toolbox" to help your dog. These tools are drugs and surgery. This medical approach may eliminate some symptoms that your dog is having but it will not provide the nutrients needed to heal their liver for the long term.
Here are some comments from dog owners we have worked with:
"So, now Scamper's gone from an ALT of 427 to 129 two months ago, to 88 (securely in the normal range), thanks to a real food diet and supplements. Yea!!"
"I just received April's blood test results and I'm happy to inform you that within three weeks that April has been on the new program, her ALKP has gone from 1,999 down to 653 a decrease of 1,346 or 67.33 % (She has not been at this level since 2013 !!! ) . All our veterinarian said .. was….AMAZING !!!!! (The rest of her lab work was also great or considerably better than prior tests)."
"I wanted to give you a recent update on Bailey. Last week, I brought her to get her blood work tested to see how the diet was helping. All I can say is that the vet was COMPLETELY shocked by her results. Obviously the diet is working! Here are Bailey's test results (both past and present)":
5/27/2014 - 558
6/18/2014 - 432
9/4/2014 - 101
"Sammy just had his blood work checked. The elevated liver enzyme went from 1900 down to 198 in 2 months. The vet didn't know what to say because all the medicines they had been giving him had not fixed the problem, in fact the count continued to rise. "
"I have some great news! The results of Ross' bloodwork show ALL liver values NORMAL!!! Quite dramatic, since his ALT levels were in the 800's only 6 months ago.
"Wonderful experience seeing my dog come back to life with your supplement and nutritional advice. Amy's test results"
1/14/2015 ALT 887 ALKP 929
2/21/2015 ALT 287 ALKP 692
3/12/2015 ALT 278 ALKP 300
4/14/2015 ALT 210 ALKP 259
10/26/2015 ALT 135 ALKP 156
2/1/2016 ALT 85 ALKP 143
"Amy's liver is BACK TO NORMAL" (notice how Amy's owner STOPPED having Amy tested every month - which I'm sure her vet originally suggested - but was a waste of money!)
"For the first time since the birth of Gigi she finally had a test results within NORMAL ALT liver enzymes range! I just got a call from the vet. My time and effort is well worth it! Thank you so much!! I'm a happy Mommy today!!"
"3+ vets and an endocrinologist couldn't figure it out thinking she had Cushing's Disease, Addisons, liver shunts etc. Her ALKP liver enzyme was 12,000!! After starting on your approach, Lola's ALKP numbers went down to 266 in 60 days from the 12K. The staff at Cornell - who along with the Univ of Tenn specialize in liver shunts - were blown away by the results."
"In December, I was told that Oreo had end stage liver disease and that I should consider putting him down because he was suffering. Liver enzymes were elevated and he looked very bad. Couldn't walk. Couldn't stand well to uninate. Today an internal specialist said Oreo DOES NOT have end stage liver disease! HIs ALT and GGT liver enzymes are NORMAL. Bile Acid Test NORMAL. Platelet count is good. Platelets were so low he had bruises all over his body! Thank you both for showing me the answer - healthy eating!"
"I feel your advice saved my dog's life! We were told that without expensive surgery, he would only live another month, since his liver was under developed and his blood tests for liver function were off the charts. However, Kramer started improving immediately after I spoke with you. We started feeding him whole foods you suggested and gave him the suggested supplements. His liver function tests are now all NORMAL, and his vet called his recovery "miraculous"! Thank you so much!"
"Our dog Noel was diagnosed with liver failure and the vet recommended surgery. I contacted Rick and he suggested a new diet for her along with supplements. After each of her blood tests her numbers kept improving. Last week the blood test showed Noel is back to normal. Without Rick's help Noel did not have very good chances of surviving."
"I just wanted to let you know that Ocean's liver enzymes are NORMAL!!!! After four months of your diet and supplements. If I could hug and kiss you both, I would! Thank you so much! I will obviously continue her diet and supplements. Thank you from the bottom of my little heart!"
"In less than a month of using Ricks approach for my beloved Elsie, her liver enzymes are back to normal."
"My 11yr old Bichon Sam was quite poorly with high liver enzymes. The vet's approach didn't help and made him worse. Since starting Sam on real food and suggested supplements, he is like a new dog. He has gone from sleepy and sluggish to alert and energetic in as little as 2 weeks."
"With Rick's helpful instructions our dog's whole life has changed. We just had him at the Vet for blood work and his Liver Enzymes went from over 700 down to 100-130 range which is normal now. Lucky was also having seizures and was very lethargic before we started him on the whole food diet."
Two vets said my 10 year old Labradoodle, Goofy, was on limited time due to a 560+ liver function count. They prescribed Tramadol to help with the pain. I found Doglivershunt's website, followed the diet and Goofy is now a healthy vibrant pooch!
"All her numbers are much better in recent blood work, some are even in normal range now! This has happened in only a 3 month period. I think Zoey's vet was amazed."
"We took Deuce for his check up today after about 3 months on the diet and his Liver Enzymes were normal! The vet called to ask how?"
The experience I had was totally awesome. Rocky had his spleen out last March and was in failing health. I contacted Rick and Cindy and I followed their plan and we have had amazing results. They helped me with every step. After just 3 weeks his blood work is perfect.
Rick & Cindy are amazing! My 10 yr old Scottie had elevated liver values. ALP started increasing rapidly from May 2014 to June 2015 - 757 to 2300. I was already preparing his food but felt I could do better. I took my chances on this site. 2 months into the program (8/2015), another blood test - ALP is 949, a 59% reduction (not to mention other values reduced)! The veterinarian's response - On the right path, WOW!
Kiki Bear is a 14 year old Toy Poodle and we have been on your approach for 5 months. Three weeks ago I took Kiki back to the vet and had her blood tested. The vet was AMAZED and could not believe the new test results. She needed to know how we did it.
I have a background in natural health and when I read what was on your website, I knew you knew what you were about. The web can be a scary place to trust anyone. Your help and step by step instructions were a Godsend! The results were nothing less than miraculous. But, we're not done yet, I feel like we've just started.
"Layla is an 8 year old Westie who was suffering from Liver disease and was given months to live in December 2014. Since putting her on the recommended whole food diet and supplements she has made a remarkable recovery. Layla's ALT was 740 and now is 41 her lowest level ever."
"It has been 4 months since I first reached out to you for help. My dog's situation is much much improved. Recent blood test in Dec told very encouraging results – all within normal range. His ALT has even dropped to 44 (in June, its over 200!). Now he looks happier and more energetic than before!"
"18 months ago Maddie was very ill. Her liver enzymes were elevated beyond the high range on the vet's bloodwork and she was diagnosed with Valley Fever. 10 months later she no longer had Valley Fever. Today she is 100% back to normal and thriving on the diet."
"When I first spoke with Rick, my dog's enzyme levels were nearly 7X higher than they should be. After following Rick's advice from January, 2015 until June, 2015 his ALT enzymes went from 718 down to 113 and ALKP went from 405 down to 48. Without Rick and Cindy I'm afraid my 2 year old Boxer might not be here today! "
"Last year, I got devasting news - my dog had elevated liver enzymes. As usual, you guide yourself by what the veterinarian has to say and suggest for treatment. We did all kinds of tests, but to no avail. I felt it was wrong to have to be giving my dog medicated food and medicines. Thankfully, I found Rick and Cindy, my dog has been herself again. She is so playful and so alert. I'm amazed by the change and how active she is."
"Rick, just wanted to let you know we took Molly to the vet last Friday for a blood check. We got the greatest news ever when they told us her liver enzymes had fallen from 1188 down to 252 in just a six month period."
"The best part is my senior dog’s liver and kidney values went from very high to normal over a two year period of following Rick and Cindy’s diet for dogs."
"We have a French Bulldog that had a liver enzyme score of almost 700. We followed Rick's diet and supplement suggestion to a tee for 6 months. When he was re-tested his score had fallen to 129, not only was that in the range of normal but it was the lowest it had ever been."
"When I first contacted you, Milo's liver enzymes were high, trending higher and he had just been diagnosed with bladder stones. His liver enzymes at that time on 3/1/16 were at a record high for him:
ALT: 167 ALKP: 533
We had him rechecked 6 weeks after making his diet/supplement change and we saw significant improvement:
ALT: 138 ALKP: 267
"We are thrilled to see the numbers drop as they did."
"Saxon's Bile Acid Test numbers and liver enzymes were off the charts! Now two years later the vet says this “I am looking at Saxon's blood panel and I am completely blown away at what I see. This dog is in absolute perfect health. I cannot believe what I am seeing based upon where he was 2 years ago."
Do you want your dog to get similar results?! What do you have to lose?
Request a free consultation for your dog. That is the first step in our process. Our comments and recommendations can put your dog on the path to better health naturally, just like these dogs. Our approach has worked for many, many dogs. Our success rate for improving liver enzymes is over 95%! Let us help you and your dog as well.
Read more testimonials here to see what is possible. Your dog can have a lifetime of health if the right changes are made starting now.
Click here to return to the home page
Click here so we can help your dog
Click here to read stories of other dogs that have been helped
Free "Canine Health, Naturally" Email Series
Discover what you need to know to reverse your dog's degenerative disease, naturally! Give your pet extraordinary health that lasts a lifetime.
Home Causes Experts Talk Testimonials Free Consultation
The statements in this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.