If you are a pet lover like myself, especially when it comes to dogs, then you know that taking care of a dog is much like taking care of a kid who cannot speak to tell you what hurts and how they feel. While buying the right types of food is a given, there are many other elements of taking care of a dog that can get expensive. One immensely important element is keeping the dog healthy by making regular trips to the vet. A good veterinarian will tell you that dogs are a lot like humans in certain ways. Exercise and a proper diet are immensely important to ensure that your dog remains healthy; however, diet and exercise alone is not enough to prevent all forms of liver and gallbladder disease in dogs. One of the most common treatments used by vets to treat diseases like hepatitis and gallstones is ursodiol for dogs.
It is almost certain that you have heard the importance of regulating your cholesterol levels. You know about the good cholesterol and the bad cholesterol. What you probably are not aware of is the fact that it is also important to monitor your dog’s cholesterol levels. With dogs, the two organs that are most negatively impacted by poor cholesterol management are the gallbladder and the liver.
If you are like me, you probably fell out of your set when you heard your dog’s veterinarian mention a gallbladder. Yes, dogs have gallbladders. Just as our gallbladders assist us in digesting our food and filtering waste, so does a dog’s gallbladder. It is important to understand that dogs are actually more susceptible to diseases associated with poor cholesterol management, even more than humans.
Some of the most common diseases that impact dog health and directly associated with the liver and gallbladder include gallstones, chronic hepatitis, and liver shunts.
Chronic hepatitis refers to long-term inflammation of the liver. Some breeds are more at risk than others, including Cocker Spaniels, Doberman Pinschers, West Highland White Terriers, and Standard Poodles. Just because your dog’s breed is not listed does not mean that you should not constantly monitor their liver health. The aforementioned breeds are generally viewed as being at higher risk than most dogs. What else is noteworthy is that chronic hepatitis has very little to do with cholesterol and may be the result of genetic influences.
Infectious hepatitis, if left untreated, can result in the chronic form of the disease. This is why it is so important to make sure that you get your dog to the vet for regular visits.
Ursodiol for dogs is a prescription K-9 drug that many veterinarians are using to treat a number of health issues in dogs. Ursodiol, also known as Urso, as well as its brand name, Actigall. Ursodiol is actually the short form and more pronounceable version of ursodeoxycholic acid, a common and naturally occurring component in the bile. In its synthetic form, this medication is used to treat a growing number of issues that can wreak havoc on a dog’s health.
In its natural form, ursodeoxycholic acid serves to help regulate the storage, processing, intake, and filtration of cholesterol. In its synthetic form, it is given to dogs that have a compromised liver function to help supplement the same functions of its naturally occurring counterpart.
As with any synthetic drug, there are some notable side effects. Just like humans, dogs organs are not designed to process synthetic drugs, which leads to some predictable and sometimes unpredictable side effects. Some of the common side effects of ursodiol in dogs include diarrhea and certain allergic reactions. The diarrhea is usually temporary, and it subsides as the animal’s body adjusts to the medication. With most other side effects being mild in nature, you should seek immediate attention should your dog experience severe unexplained symptoms. Should you be forced to take your dog to an emergency treatment center, make sure that you let them know that your pet has taken ursodiol.
Finally, make sure that you follow the dosage instructions and do not cease the medication abruptly without consulting your veterinarian, as abruptly stopping medication can result in severe adverse reactions.
The care of our pets is essential as they are an extension of the family. We have a responsibility to ensure that they get the best possible care to ensure the highest quality of life.