10 Best dog food for liver disease – reviews and Nutrition tips

This is my detailed guide on what is the best dog food for liver disease in 2021.

It would be difficult to explain in one paragraph how important a function the liver plays in the body of dogs. This is one of the most important internal organs to look out for.

So if your vet determines that your dog has liver disease, you need to take immediate action. Dietary change is critical in this case. Together with my vet friends, I managed to gather the top 10 dog foods for liver disease. The winner is Hill’s Prescription Diet l/d Liver Care.

Of course, you should also consult your own veterinarian before making a final decision. After all, he will examine your pooch and know exactly his medical history.

In my article, I have collected not only the best products on the market, but also a lot of useful information about liver disease in dogs. I will include some nutrition advice too. I am confident that my article will help your dog live a longer and healthier life.

Let’s start!

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10 best dog food for liver disease

Below you will find the best products I have chosen. I have found that these dog foods can properly treat liver disease in dogs. It is important that you always consult your veterinarian about the proper diet for your pooch.

Hill’s Prescription Diet l/d Liver Care

Key features:

  • Helps to reduce liver workload
  • Helps maintain normal fat metabolism
  • Helps avoid nutrient deficiencies
  • Formulated with S+OXSHIELD
  • Offers great taste

This is certainly the best recipe for dogs with liver disease. The moderated protein content is provided by egg white. The biological value of this is very high, so you don’t have to worry about your dog not getting the nutrients he needs.

The food contains many amino acids that protect the liver and improve liver metabolism. Examples are DL-Methionine, L-Carnitine, and L-Arginine. Its low copper content is also positive, as the accumulation of this metal has a bad effect on dogs with liver disease.

The recipe is also available in a wet canned form if your dog prefers it.


Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hepatic Formula

Key features:

  • Supports healthy liver function
  • Low copper level
  • Highly digestible vegetable proteins
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Suitable for picky eaters

The second product on my list is also a very good choice when it comes to liver protection. Its protein content is moderated and given by soy protein. It doesn’t have as good a biological value as egg white, but I think it’s just right for a liver diet.

L-arginine is missing from this recipe, so it is not best for certain liver problems (biliary associated). However, it contains DL-Methionine and L-Carnitine, which help with liver metabolism.

Dried beet pulp has a high fiber content. This, on the one hand, improves intestinal function and on the other hand, traps harmful substances in the intestine. This relieves the liver. To this is added the high antioxidant and low copper content of the food. Omega 3 fatty acids are not only responsible for skin and coat health but also help liver regeneration.

This food is wet, but also available in dry form.


The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey Recipe

Key features:

  • AAFCO complete recipe
  • Moderate calories and protein
  • Made in the US
  • Free of by-products, preservatives, and GMO ingredients
  • Easy to prepare and serve

The recipes for the Honest Kitchen brand are very impressive to me. They contain only natural and wholesome ingredients. The primary source of protein is turkey. In addition, the food contains zinc and vitamin E, all of which support the liver. Elsewhere, protein and fat content are moderated.

Ingredients do not include soy, wheat, corn, preservatives, GMOs, and by-products. The ingredients are added to the recipe only in full form with minimal processing. This makes this commercial dog food a great option for dogs with liver conditions.


Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe

Key features:

  • Helps maintain ideal body weight
  • Features protein-rich chicken
  • Contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and EPA
  • Features a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
  • Free of grains corn, soy, wheat, meat by-products, or artificial flavors

This Blue Buffalo product can be a great option if your dog is struggling with liver problems. The ingredients are not only suitable for planning the right diet, but also free of grains, by-products, preservatives, and artificial flavors.

The protein content of this food is slightly higher than expected. However, premium deboned chicken is exactly a source of protein that a dog with liver disease needs. (Also contains Phosphorus and vitamin B6, selenium, and niacin).

I really like LifeSource Bits because it contains all the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This not only provides the right nutrients for your dog but also protects his immune system.


Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend 

Key features:

  • Real lamb as the first ingredient
  • Optimal levels of protein and fat
  • Great texture
  • Contains vitamin A and linoleic acid
  • Features probiotics and natural prebiotic fiber

I added this dish to my list because of probiotics and prebiotics. This is because they greatly improve digestion. And good digestion means less liver strain. Because of this, this food can be a good choice for dogs with liver problems.

The source of protein is real lamb, which supplies your dog’s body with the right amount and quality of amino acids. Otherwise, the product is delicious, tasty, and has a very good texture. Dogs will love this recipe.


CANIDAE All Life Stages Multi-Protein Formula

Key features:

  • Protein sources are chicken, turkey, lamb, and fish meals
  • Contains probiotics, antioxidants, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Free of corn, wheat, and soy
  • Veterinarian-formulated
  • Added vitamins and minerals

This CANIDAE product may be a good option for dogs with liver disease. It contains ingredients that are essential for a balanced diet. It stimulates the immune system of dogs and helps fight disease. The recipe includes high-quality protein sources such as turkey, chicken, and lamb. However, it does not contain any harmful substances, fillers, or preservatives that would have a detrimental effect on digestion.


Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult

Key features:

  • High-quality protein and carbs
  • Contains calcium, phosphorus, and essential vitamins
  • Added glucosamine
  • Added vitamins, chelated minerals, and antioxidants
  • Free of corn, wheat, soy, and by-product meals

This healthy, holistic diet will have a good effect on your dog’s liver. You will only find high-quality ingredients in this product. Examples include real meat, garden vegetables, whole-grains, flavorful fruits, and added LifeSource Bits. The latter is my big favorite as it maximally supports overall health. By the way, the food tastes extremely good, your dog will love it. 


Forza10 Nutraceutic Sensitive Digestion Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key features:

  • Complete and balanced nutrition
  • supports overall, gastrointestinal, and digestive health
  • Limited-ingredient recipe
  • Developed by a vet
  • Grain-free

This product is an encouraging sign that it is manufactured by a company founded by an Italian veterinarian. The recipe is great for overcoming various digestive problems. And like I said, good digestion is also good for the liver. Therefore, you should also consider FORZA10 dog food when choosing.


Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support

Key features:

  • Controlled levels of protein
  • Controlled levels of phosphorus and sodium
  • Contains antioxidants, L-carnitine, and omega 3 fatty acids
  • Free of grains
  • Great nutrition and taste

This recipe is not specifically designed for liver disease. However, it has a good kidney support effect, so it may be a good option temporarily. The protein is provided by egg white, which has excellent biological value.

The food contains L-Carnitine, DL-Methionine, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and prebiotics. These ingredients support liver function and together protect the liver.

Nevertheless, this diet should only be used temporarily in dogs with liver disease. Once you can get a liver nourishing formula again, switch to it.

This product can also be found in a wet canned form.


Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Formula

Key benefits:

  • Great for kidney care
  • Great taste
  • Features antioxidants and a reduced level of sodium
  • Created with the help of  nutritionists, researchers, and veterinarians
  • A moderated amount of high-quality protein and phosphorous

Like the previous product, this is only used as an alternative. A kidney diet has been shown to be appropriate for dogs with liver disease.

The recipe contains a moderated amount of high-quality protein source. Corn, rice, dried whey, egg, sugar, and lower levels of fat provide the nutrients your dog with the condition needs.

Due to low calcium, phosphorus, and sodium levels, do not give this food to your dog with liver problems for a long time. Talk to your veterinarian about the options.

The product is available in a wet canned food form.


My choice

I think the above is a list that will be absolutely appropriate for your dog with liver problems. The liver is one of the most important internal organs, so protecting your health is of paramount importance. I found the products of Hill’s and Royal Canin to be the most convincing in terms of liver nutrition and liver protection.

My veterinarian acquaintances and I believe that Hill’s Prescription Diet l/d Liver Care is the most positive option. This product contains slightly more fat than my next choice. Therefore, if increased fat is a particular problem, choose the other option.

This is because there are conditions when the gallbladder and its associated biliary system are damaged. In this condition, special attention should be paid to fat intake. If this is also the case for your dog, consider the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hepatic Formula.

My list includes kidney support and commercial dog food. While these may be great supplements, or in some cases alternatives, be sure to check with your veterinarian about them. If your dog’s condition is severe, switch to a liver-supporting diet as soon as possible.


best dog food for liver disease 1

More about liver disease in dogs

The liver performs several functions in the body. On the one hand, after breaking down, it eliminates toxins and various wastes. The other main task is to secrete the bile, which is extremely important for digestion.

When the liver is unable to perform these important functions, it can lead to plenty of serious problems. These problems may include:

Common symptoms of liver disease in dogs

Most liver diseases have no visible symptoms in the initial stages. This is because the liver can perform its function properly even with reduced capacity. In the later stages, you may notice the following symptoms in your dog:

  • Jaundice: This is practically the first and most noticeable sign. Jaundice most commonly appears on the whites of the eyes. But it can also occur on the ears, gums, or skin. Otherwise, the yellow color is caused by a substance called bilirubin, which builds up in the body when the liver is not working properly.
  • Neurological changes: The liver filters the anomie in the body, among other things. When this does not happen due to liver disease, it causes various neurological problems. This degenerative condition of the brain is called hepatic encephalopathy. This can even cause seizures, depression, head pressure, and blindness.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: Such signs may indicate liver disease. Possible examples are diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, increased urination, weight loss, and abdominal swelling. The latter is also called ascites anyway. Large amounts of fluid accumulate in the stomach. It requires veterinary intervention.

Other symptoms:

  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Bleeding problems
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Orange urine
  • Increased fluid consumption
  • Light grey stool
  • Excessive itchiness

And what is the specific cause of liver disease in dogs? That’s hard to say. However, it often occurs with inflammation and disease. Examples are cancer, parasites, fungi, or viral infections. The following reasons may be considered:

  • Viruses
  • Parasites
  • Fungi
  • Bacterial infection
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Toxins
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Inheritance
  • Immune disorders

And what to do if you notice any of the above symptoms on your dog? By no means should dietary change be the first. Instead, your veterinarian should diagnose your canine. Then discuss with him about the right diet, which I will also write about below.

best dog food for liver disease

Diet requirements for dogs with liver disease

Below I take a look at the most important nutrients. Be sure to consider the following suggestions, but also consult your own veterinarian before deciding on major dietary changes.

Protein

Many people believe that a huge amount of protein is harmful to dogs with liver disease. In very severe chronic end-stage cases, a lot of ammonia in the body really doesn’t do any good. In early-stage liver disease, this is not necessarily an aspect. 

Protein enhances the proper functioning of the liver. The most important thing is not the amount of protein, but the quality, with as little ammonia as possible. High-quality animal proteins are what you need to incorporate into your dog’s diet.

Fats

Fats are very important because they provide energy and are involved in a lot of processes in the body. Nevertheless, moderate amounts are allowed in dogs with liver disease. The liver processes fats, so a larger amount would unfortunately mean more work and stress for this internal organ.

Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are important in every dog’s diet, but especially in liver disease. These carbohydrates contain soluble fibers that reduce ammonia and nitrogenous wastes in the body. One of the best sources of such complex carbohydrates is oatmeal.


So the key to your dog’s diet is to include low ammonia-producing high-quality animal proteins, low amounts of healthy fats, and complete carbohydrates containing soluble fiber. If you pay attention to these factors, your dog with liver disease may be healthier.

As you can see, proper nutrition is one of the most important things for maintaining health. This not only provides the necessary nutrients for your dog’s body but also relieves stress on the liver and promotes regeneration.

Of course, it is very important that you recognize the disease in time. Early diagnosis helps prevent toxins from damaging other organs and parts of the body.

Types of diets for liver disease

In all cases, seek the assistance of a licensed expert to resolve the issue. In collaboration with your veterinarian, the following diets may be considered for your dog in case of liver damage.

Prescribed Dry Dog Food

After diagnosing the disease, your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet for your dog. This, of course, can vary from dog to dog, so you should always look at the ingredients on the products. 

Homemade Dog Food

You can even prepare the food for your dog yourself. But for liver disease, always work with an expert who knows the exact list of ingredients and the exact doses.

Commercial food

Commercial dog food can also be a good option. Of course, you need to be fully aware of the list of ingredients. You can also add homemade or prescribed dog food to these dishes. This makes it easier to get accurate dietary rations.

Combination

As I mentioned, every dog ​​is different. Depending on your individual needs, you may need to combine the diets mentioned above for the right effect. In all cases, talk to your veterinarian about dietary changes.

Other foods that can help dogs with liver disease

The above information is sufficient to provide your dog with a proper meal. However, here are some more foods that will help with liver disease.

  • Dairy products: yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, or goat cheese.
  • Animal-based protein: chicken, turkey, lamb.
  • Complex carbs: oatmeal, white rice, barley, and pumpkin.
  • Fish oil which contains omega-3 fatty acids
  • Fresh fruits: papayas, figs, seedless watermelon, and blueberries

Further nutrition tips

The tips below may help your dog further.

Copper

Copper is not good for dogs with liver disease. Therefore, it is worth avoiding high copper protein sources. Examples include duck, salmon, and pork. On the other hand, chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, cheese, and whitefish are low copper and high-quality meats.

Supplements

Sodium levels should generally be reduced in the diet for liver disease. This means that the amount of certain nutrients needs to be increased. Examples are vitamin E, vitamin B complex, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin K, and SAMe supplement.

Frequency

It is worth increasing the frequency of feeding. Choose several smaller meals instead of two meals a day. In many cases, this can be beneficial for your dog’s digestion and liver function.

Breeds that are more prone to liver disease

Although basically all dogs can have liver disease, there are certain breeds who are more prone to this.

Some dogs often have copper storage diseases. This means that their liver has a harder time getting rid of excess copper. Examples of these breeds are Bedlington terriers, Labrador Retrievers, and Dalmatians.

Canine Chronic Hepatitis is associated with persistent slow liver damage. The most susceptible breeds for this are Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Doberman Pinschers, Bedlington Terriers, Springer Spaniels, Chihuahuas, and Maltese.

Congenital Polycystic Liver disease has a detrimental effect on liver performance. There are some breeds that are prone to this condition. Examples are Bull Terriers, Beagles, West Highland White Terriers.

The liver of dogs with Glycogen Storage Disease stores too much glycogen because it does not produce enough enzymes to metabolize. The breeds that tend to do this are Maltese dogs, German Shepherds, and Curly Coated Retrievers.

Shetland Sheepdogs are prone to Gallbladder Mucocele and Shar Peis are prone to a disease called Hepatic Amyloidosis.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to worry if you have any of the dogs mentioned above. However, there is no harm in paying attention to any symptoms. A proper diet relieves the liver and has a good effect on its functioning.

best dog food for liver disease

Frequently asked questions about nutrition for dogs with liver disease

How can I improve my dog’s liver function?

First and foremost, your vet needs to examine your dog. He then establishes the right diet, which helps a lot in managing the condition. Proper nutrients play a key role in liver health. There are supplements that can also help in liver recovery. An example is SAM-E or milk thistle.

How long do dogs live with liver disease?

The most important thing is to make a correct and accurate diagnosis in time. Nowadays, liver diseases can be treated effectively. Dogs are able to live with these types of conditions for years.

How can dogs get liver diseases?

The most common viral liver disease in dogs is canine hepatitis. There are also bacterial infections that lead to liver disease. An example is Leptospirosis.

Is liver disease painful for dogs?

This can depend on a number of things, such as causes and symptoms. The most common symptoms are malaise, vomiting, nausea, weight loss, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, dogs may also feel pain.

Is a grain-free diet good for dogs with liver disease

Grains alone have no effect on liver disease. So if your dog isn’t sensitive to them, you don’t have to eliminate them from the diet. 

Can a dog’s liver repair itself?

Liver disease, and especially liver damage, can be very severe and dangerous. A stress-free lifestyle and a proper diet can help you recover. A good diet contains the necessary nutrients and does not burden the liver. With such a diet, the liver may be able to repair itself.

Can liver diseases be fatal to dogs?

Yes, just like humans, it is a life-threatening condition in dogs. As soon as you notice any signs and symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Some symptoms are difficult to notice. On the other hand, jaundice, easy bruising or bleeding, and swelling in the legs and abdomen due to fluid are common symptoms that suggest liver failure.

Can liver failure develop from liver disease?

Yes, all liver failure starts with the disease. Therefore, it is very important that the correct diagnosis and treatment is started in time.


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Peter Laskay

Peter Laskay

Hi there, my name is Peter Laskay and I am the person behind this site. I’ve been a fan of pets since I was a little kid and want to help people with similar interests. I want everyone to be able to provide the most appropriate care for pets.