4 Superfoods for Liver Health in Dogs

Here at My Pet Nutritionist we describe the liver as the powerhouse, simply because it has so many jobs.  For this reason, when it’s feeling a little under the weather, the ramifications can be widespread.

What is it they say, prevention is better than cure?  With this in mind, are there foods we can include in our pet’s diet that can support liver health?

Of course!

Certain wholefoods contain a range of nutrients which can support our dog’s whole health, so here are a few of our favourite foods to support liver health.

1) Blueberries

Almost all chronic liver disease is under the background of elevated oxidative stress.  This occurs when the number of free radicals found in the body outweighs its ability to cope with them.  Antioxidants neutralise free radicals.

This versatile berry contains anthocyanins which function as antioxidants which been seen to protect the liver from oxidative stress. Studies have found that in the livers of rats, such protective compounds found in fruits like blueberries slowed the development of scar tissue and may be useful in the prevention of hepatic fibrosis.

Other fruits rich in antioxidants include:

  • Cranberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Mango,
  • Watermelon
  • Blackberries

2) Leafy Green Vegetables (kale, spinach etc.)

Not only does this family of vegetables provide a wide range of nutrients and health benefits, but they also have the added ability of increasing the liver’s natural detoxification enzymes.

Detoxification is carried out by a range of mechanisms, and this comes in particularly handy if one pathway is overwhelmed, another can pick up the slack.

Detoxification falls into three phases.

The first two phases are concerned with breaking down the toxin in the body, and phase three is concerned with excreting it.  For us to manage ours and our dog’s toxic load, all three phases need to be working optimally.

Phases I and II are particularly nutrient demanding, and it goes without saying that the higher the burden on the phases (the more toxins our dogs are exposed to), the higher the nutrient requirement again.

Sufficient levels of key vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, C, E, B1, B2, B3 and iron, along with cysteine, are essential and this is where our trusty greens come in.

In leafy greens you get substantial amounts of vitamins such as A, C, K, and many of the B’s including folate (B9), plus minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.  You’ll also find lots of fibre made up of complex carbohydrates, and antioxidant phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Low Fat Venison

3) Fatty Fish (mackerel, tuna, sardines etc.)

Consuming fatty fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids regularly can help modulate inflammation and it is this mechanism that is crucial to so many health issues in both us and our dogs.

Inflammation is a normal response of the body to protect tissues from infection, injury, or disease. The inflammatory response begins with the production and release of chemical agents by cells in the infected, injured, or diseased tissue.

These agents cause redness, swelling, pain, heat, and loss of function. Inflamed tissues generate additional signals that recruit leukocytes to the site of inflammation. Leukocytes destroy any infective or injurious agent and remove cellular debris from damaged tissue. This inflammatory response usually promotes healing but, if uncontrolled, may become harmful.

Acute inflammation typically lasts only a few days. If a wound gets hot, turns red, hurts, and swells, we recognize that inflammation is at work. In this instance, inflammation is a beneficial process, serving to immobilize the area of injury as the rest of the immune system mobilizes to heal.

In contrast, chronic inflammation lasts weeks, months or even indefinitely and causes tissue damage, and this too can occur in the liver.

In chronic inflammation, the inflammation becomes the problem rather than the solution.  Chronically inflamed tissues continue to generate signals that request help from leukocytes in the bloodstream. When leukocytes reach the tissue, they bring inflammation to the party.  This chronic inflammatory response can break down healthy tissue in a misdirected attempt at repair and healing.

Inflammation and Fatty Acids

Arachidonic acid is an omega-6 acid that is involved in the synthesis of eicosanoids.  Eicosanoids play an important role in the body, they modulate many processes including reproduction, blood pressure, haemostasis and of course inflammation.  The issue occurs when there are too many.  This is why we are particularly interested in balancing out our omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.  Many commercial foods come in higher on the omega 6 front, and so we really need to be adding some wonderful omega 3’s to the bowl (in the form of oily fish).

Not only this, but omega-3 fatty acids inhibit an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), which produces the prostaglandin hormones that spark inflammation. The action is similar to what happens when NSAIDs are ingested which also disrupts the COX-2 signalling pathway, reducing inflammation.

The inclusion of omega 3’s in your dog’s diets is beneficial to whole body health, not just liver health.

Essential Fats for My Dog’s Diet

4) Eggs

Eggs are sources of choline, and this nutrient is particularly useful to the liver. Most choline is metabolized in the liver where it is converted into phosphatidylcholine, which assists in building fat-carrying proteins and breaking down cholesterol.

True choline deficiencies have regularly been linked to liver disease.

Whilst eggs are a good source, you will also find choline in beef, beef liver, chicken, fish, shiitake mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Low Copper
If you would like to learn more about the nutrients to support liver health in your dog, check out our blog here:

Foods to Feed in Liver Disease

And if you would like to learn more about conditions that can affect your dog’s liver, check out our blog here:

Natural Guide to Liver Disease

If you are concerned about your dog’s health and would like to speak with us, then please check out our services.

Thanks for reading,

MPN Team  

Keep up to date

Subscribe to our newsletter for recipes, DIY products, health solutions and more.

You have been successfully Subscribed! Ops! Something went wrong, please try again.

Customer Reviews

Related articles