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High liver enzymes in my 11-year old dog

My dog went in for a annual exam this week. He had high ALT (112 U/L) and ALKP (396 U/L). Everything else was in normal ranges (but they did not do a CBC even when I asked). The vet thinks it is Cushing's disease.

He is 11 years old and has been slowing down a bit and also suffering with the heat; we moved to a very hot and humid climate (Texas) 10 months ago. This was the first time at the vet's since moving to Texas.

At the same time we moved across country, I changed his diet from Nutro to Natural Balance. That helped control his weight as his hips are hurting. He also had a series of Adequan shots.

Does anyone have experience with abnormal liver enzymes? Could it be due to stress? He pants a lot and we live next door to two very terretorial barking big dogs; he sometimes runs right back in the house when they bark at him even though he is bigger (but much older!).
24 Responses
616449 tn?1221218462
Abnormal liver values have nothing to do with stress. The liver has many functions, including detoxification and processing waste materials, storing nutrients, regulating glucose, and producing bile for fat digestion. The normal range varies, but generally ALT is 10-75 and AlkP is 25-100. A high ALT indicates liver damage from any cause, including disease or drugs(corticosteroids, antibiotics, aspirin) A high AlkP indicates liver damage from any cause, cholestasis, hyperthyroidism...

Cushings can cause liver enzymes to elevate. Have his ACTH level checked. Other signs of cushings are weight gain, hair loss, lots of drinking/urinating, panting...So it could be Cushings but it could be a multitude of other things, depending on the rest of his bloodwork, symptoms he presents, etc. An xray and maybe an ultrasound might be a good idea as well, to get a better view and rule out masses, enlargement...

I would talk to your vet again to find out all possibilities, and would definitely have bloodwork done, including liver enzymes, glucose and ACTH periodically to keep track of his levels.

On another note Adequan should be used with caution in dogs with liver impairment.
462827 tn?1333168952
Did your Vet offer you any medication (Such as Denosyl or Zentonil) to help support his Liver? In my experience, these DO work.......Karla
Avatar universal
I am going through this right now only this is far more severe, monitor your dog and watch for the following signs. My dog Baxter, a chow chow who is 9.5 years old has been very sick since last Tuesday. Out of nowhere he started vomiting and when taken to the vet last Tuesday, his levels were fine but his xrays showed air in his stomach and intestines and a swollen liver. They gave me Cerenia and ear medicine for a minor ear infection and told me to monitor him. Then he still seemed really sick all week, lethargic, panting heavily, drooling and would not eat, (even chicken, rice, pizza crust, peanut butter, bread...nothing), so i took him back on Friday and his ALKP level was 2000 on Friday and today when I took him back for another round of blood after a weekend of IV, denamarin and ampicillin, his levels were so high they could not be registered. Im so confused because the doctor said this is all so very serious, however, he seems to be in very high spirits and has been in a great mood for the last two days. His normal personality has come back and he's acting completely like himself again. He has even started to eat again, bread and peanut butter with the denamarin and he ate an egg yolk today. He has never been sick before and I am worrying sick about him. The vet has given me little hope and basically told me today that I should consider the option of putting him down. However, he's happy!! Urine is not super yellow like it was in the last week and he's not panting or drooling too much anymore. His gums were light pink earlier today and they have since gotten a little darker. I am planning on taking him for an ultrasound on Wednesday but I am so confused. I wish there was another indicator besides the levels on a piece of paper to tell me he is sick. Anyone have any advice? Does anyone know if the levels can come down safely once they are so high????? please help me, I am sick about this and so confused. I am just hoping his levels will drop. I read that after the liver is afflicted, the following two days or so the levels spike then it can take weeks for them to go back down. I never had any indication that anything was wrong with him. He has lived a normal, happy life. Please help.
Avatar universal
is he eating pedigree food for large or small breeds?? my dog was eating that brand and it was recalled three weeks ago for salmonella poisoning!!!! the vet told me just now that was definiitely the reason a healthy dog in every other way would have become ill. i just put in a request for contact with pedigree. i will keep you posted.
Avatar universal
Our (10) year old dog has been on various medications (steroids) that had caused her liver enzymes to be extremely elevated.  My husband and I both take Milk Thistle for our liver health along with various other herbs and vitamins.  I started giving our dog (a large German Shepherd) one Milk Thistle capsule per day, in hopes of getting her liver enzymes within the "normal" range.  We had her bloodwork redone approximately (3) months after starting the milk thistle and her liver enzyme levels were/are totally normal.  Obviously you should consult with your vet before giving your own dog any new herb/medication, but I believe Milk Thistle (the same capsules we take and got from our local vitamin store) is the reason for her improved liver health.   For us we really thought it was worth trying, and we are sure glad we did!
675347 tn?1365460645
This is so true, and thanks for adding this. Milk Thistle is a wonderful herb for the liver. It does work wonders to lower the enzyme levels. It is also considered a safe herb when taken correctly, both for humans and dogs.
911184 tn?1242800615
I know it has been several months since you posted your question....I am new to this and still trying to find my way around this site.  

I had an experience with elevated liver enzymes in my dog. Blood work was done when my dog starting drinking excessively and having accidents in the house.  His liver enzymes were drastically out of range.

I learned that my dog had started eating the cypress mulch I put in the garden.  I know this mulch is heavily treated with chemicals.  I stopped leaving my dog unattended in the yard.  It became a habit for him and I had to tell him no to stop his mulch eating right in front of me.  Eventually, months later, his mulch eating subsided, and I stopped putting new mulch down.  He stopped drinking excessively and when blood work was done 6 months later, his liver enzymes were back in normal range.  

Avatar universal
My dog's number is elevated to over 7000 - the doctor has put her on an aggressive med program...amoxicillion 3 times a day, denosyl, milk thistle and actigall, if the amox works and she survives, she will be on the rest of the meds for life...she is close to 11 year old scotch terrier...we pray that she can recover but we won't do anything invasive at this point.  This is the second time it has happended...we nursed her back when she was 7 and hope and pray we can again.  She has extreme hair loss, throwing up bile and very very tired...she will occassionally get a burst of energy which keeps us optomistic.
sounds like a thyroid problem, have her tested for hypothyroidism
It just might be allergy problem too, my dog is allergic to amoxicillin.  Some of the symptoms are vomiting, breathing problems like panting excessively hard, anxious such as licking paws, irritation of the lungs, coughing, gagging refusing to eat, hair loss. These are some allergic reaction to amoxicillin, and high liver enzymes  
Avatar universal
my 5 year old sheltie was recently diagnosed with low thyroid and epilepsy (on Phenabarbitral).  About a month ago he stopped eating and had a fever of 104. Since then he has been urinating a lot, drinking a lot.  I had his blood taken to check thyroid and his liver enzymes.  Test came back 285 - vet has not put him on a liver clensing.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  I'm going to speak the the dr. about milk thistle.

thanks - i dont' want to loose my baby.
Avatar universal
the best oral glutathione is liposomal glutathione, proven to get to the liver. only 2 companies make this form. I use Essential GSH for myself and my dogs. I have had Lyme for 40 years and have an abnormally functioning liver.
Avatar universal
Hi Wetarez - My dogs and I have Chronic Lyme.  One of the coinfections of Lyme killed my dog's son when he was 2 years old, he "bled out".  She has heart, cancer and now high levels of ALKP.  I'd be interested in communicating to discuss the Lyme issues.
Avatar universal
My older dog has unusally high liver levels and am going to try Milk thistle and also am wondering how much of a dosage of Denosyl to use on a 60 pound dog?
Avatar universal
My two dogs will not touch Pedigree at all. They approach the dish as if it were poison, growling, then yiping and running away! My dogs are also highly allergic to their treats too! Once I stopped giving them anything with a Pedigree brand, their symptoms cleared up. One has elevated liver enzymes--but I found a homeopathic remedy that she took readily, and in 24 hrs she's back to her old self--frisky, happy, no vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy...I'll post the name when I get home..
Avatar universal
What homeopathic remedy did you give your dog with elevated liver enzymes and how did you administer?  My 60lb, 11 year old female lab/ border collie mix is having issues.  Vet says her ALT is back within normal range but her tot BILI has gone from .6 to 1.0.  She's been getting milk thistle and vit E.  Has moved to Hill's RX diet for liver problems and is on actigall (ursodiol).  She should be getting better, but is not.  She had lyme disease when she was about 18 months old.  I would welcome suggestions.
Avatar universal
yes, Denosyl and how much Milk thistle can I give my dog. She a White High land Westie.  10 years old. 4 years ago. Abby is her name. she her blood test showed her enzymes were doubled now 4 years later its 4 times higher. I would like to try the milk thistle.
I just purchased Milk Thistle, in a liquid form, on Amazon the instructions are 1 drop per pound of weight a day
Avatar universal
SAM E 400 mg. and milk thistle 175 mg. was prescribed by our vet for our 13 yr. old Golden Retriever weights 84 lbs. who developed seizures after having to change heartworm medication because his regular heartworm was not made anymore. Trifexis heartworm medication. prescribed after 2 doses he had petit mal seizures. Now using Sentinel.
Had his liver enzymes blood work done today and after 3 months  prescribed to give herbs plus phenobarbital (low dose  64.8 mg. x2 daily) liver levels are now near normal.  
2194148 tn?1397323475
My dog is 14 and in good health.  Obviously he has slowed down a bit, but acts normal for him.  I gook him into the vet about 2 years ago and they said his liver enzymes were elevated so she put him on this vitamin liver supplement and said that instead of running extremely expensive tests right now, we would wait to see if this supplement helps brings his enzymes down,  she also said  that when dogs (not all of them) get older, a lot of things can make their liver malfunction but its not the end of the world. She said that so many things can make them rise that it's to our advantage to see if this supplement will help them go back down, which means it could have been anything, and we just avoided hundreds and hundreds of dollars in testing.  Of course, if the enzymes are still elevated, then tests are inevitable.  We are now waiting to see what this supplement will do, but he seems to feel a little more lively lately.   Unless your dog is etting really physically ill, be patient for a couple of months and let this stuff work.  Sorry, I don't  know the name of the stuff, but your vet will know.
Avatar universal
my very active 9 year old morkie that weighs 11 pounds experienced a heat stroke 3 days ago. He was hospitalized with an IV for 48 hours and we were concerned he wouldn't make it.  He is acting almost back to himself however his ALT liver enzymes are at 700. He was prescribed denamarin for the next 30 days. my question is what else can i do to help this little guy's liver restore itself from the damage already caused by the heat stroke? My vet said to give him brown rice and boiled chicken for the next few days and then introduce him back on his pedigree dog food. What else can I do and am I doing the right thing?
462827 tn?1333168952
Wow! I didn't realize Heat stroke caused Liver problems! Is that what your Vet said? Yes, so far your doing the right thing...The Denamarin is a good choice....If you need it longer than a month, you can purchase online (Without a prescription) at much more reasonable prices..

Next, you need to really evaluate ALL potential toxins that your dog has access to....Anything that goes on him or in him can be a problem.....Even down to lawn chemicals that are absorbed through feet....Flea/Tick products, shampoos, bug sprays, etc....

You need to also re-evaluate the food he eats.....I see 5 items in the ingredients that are known toxins for people & pets......If they are known to cause cancer, then rest assured they can damage Liver & Kidneys....ALL chemicals are filtered through the Kidneys AND LIVER....Also, don't use Tap water to drink...Most City waters are loaded w/too many chemicals.....Get him a good bottled water....

Here's a link about your food......

Good luck & come back to let us know how he's doing.....Karla

Avatar universal
Hi Dallys mom,i see this post is 5 yrs ago but i too have a scottie whom i  had some blood work for and her liver enzymes were 650, that was 7 weeks ago, as of the blood test today it is 1500. she is 9 years old and also has allergies which we have treated since the day we got her, ie: food, injections and meds, she has a mass in stomache but w chose not to have the surgery. we too were put on milk thistle but she is allergic to it. they did an fna on the mass and it came back as not knowing if cancer or not. the specialist says it "looks like cancer" on the sonogram. If by chance you do check this i would love to hear how your scottie is doing, or what you have done to help wth this issue. or anyone else that can help i would love to hear your thoughs, i have never posted anything on the  internet but have been reading alot on this subject as she is a very important part of or family.
Avatar universal
Hello:  I am interested in hearing more about your story:  I am having the same issue with my jack russell.  please email me ***@****
My 10 year old Yorkie poo has been panting a lot for a while now and my vet has pretty much tossed it up to stress and wanted to put him on meds for that but we declined.  Now almost a year later of dealing with this we were told that his liver enzymes have doubled since last year and at that time they were a bit high, so they want to give him meds to see if this helps and then going to recheck in a month.  I'm reading a lot of panting and high liver enzymes in these posts, could these be related?  Any and all suggestions appreciated as I'm very worried about my baby and praying he's going to be okay.  
Avatar universal
My dog's enzyme level were 616 a month ago, so we put her on daily Denamarin and her levels have decreased to 470.  I think that is pretty significant.  I will be getting an abdominal ultrasound as well so the vet can see adrenals, liver and gallbladder.  She is a small 14 pound spaniel mix, 12 years old.  They suspect she has Cushings, though my feeling is Cushings is highly overdiagnosed. Good luck
Avatar universal
My bichon frise is 14 yrs old fit healthy running around has always had the odd fit wasn't on tablets as they were very random suddenly had 3 on the trot, we took him to the vets they kept him in said his liver enzymes were extremely high said they should scan him I feel I want to bring him home as other than the fits he's great not in pain or anything so surely can't he just go on epilepsy tablets .i don't want to start prodding him around finding lumps and bumps wouldn't he just have high liver count beach use of his age.
Avatar universal
I started going thru the same thing w my 9 yr old Yorkie a month ago. It was sudden & after a week they wanted to put her down. After an ultrasound, blood work, etc. she ended up in our dog hospital & the vet there recommended an Internist in Baton Rouge. When she got there, they immediately put her on 9 meds (just in case). After a CAT scan & another Ultrasound, I was told she "possibly" had Lymphoma, but only a liver biopsy would confirm & she was too frail. I brought her home to die (we all thought), kept her on her meds & started reading like a crazy person. She hated the RX dog food, so I found a book, written by a woman w the same experience, threw that crap away & started feeding her a "natural liver diet". It was gradual eating at first, but one of the meds was an appetite enhancer. In 2 weeks, she has gained weight & is back to her old self. She is only on 2 meds now (a steroid & most importantly, one for Hepatic Ensepholopathy) a condition which causes ammonia from the liver to go to the brain. The med eliminates the ammonia. There is a special blood test for this too. I'm convinced she does not have cancer & this was her problem all along. Unfortunately the 3 reg vets did not check for this, nor ever mention it (ASK THEM... I wish I had known to).. The Internist did right away! If it's a liver problem, you need to break the cycle & get your dog eating again,even if it's force feeding w a syringe. That's what we had to do & then the meds helped w her appetite. Once she started eating & drinking on her own just a little, I began her on the liver diet described in "Hope for Healing Liver Disease" by Cyndi Smasal. I hope this helps you.& your dog!  I'll never take my dog to a reg vet for anything again, except simple things.. shots, etc. The one's I have encountered are like lazy GP's. Good Luck & please let me know what happens. ***@****
What does high liver enzymes and Cushing disease have to do with each other.
When a dog has Cushings they have an increase in cortisol. The liver works overtime trying to clear the cortisol thus giving rise in liver enzymes.
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