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Monday, 11 June 2012

Signs of age, or something more?

My 10-year-old crossbreed, Titch, had her routine booster a month ago together with a Wellpet blood test. This test showed that she had elevated levels of one of the liver enzymes. The figure should normally be no more than 212 but hers was 475. As she was showing no symptoms and it was only one of the enzymes (I'm not sure which one) we decided to retest in a month to see if it changed. We have just retested and the level has gone up again to 559. My vet says at this stage it is nothing to be too concerned about as if the liver was severely diseased the enzyme level would be up in the thousands, but the fact that it is rising means that, in her opinion, we should maybe do a few more tests to see of we can figure out what is going on. She is recommending a liver stimulation test and an ultrasound initially.

Having done a little research, I have read that it is often quite normal for middle aged dogs to have elevated liver enzymes and it doesn't always indicate a real problem. The suggestion seems to be that it may be better to wait and retest again in six months unless adverse symptoms start to appear.

At the moment Titch seems perfectly healthy. She is fit and active, is not drinking or urinating excessively and does not have any signs of fluid retention. I adopted Titch from a rescue centre when she was about nine months old and she has always had a tendency to occasionally vomit up bile, but I have had another dog who did this, almost seeming to purge himself when his stomach was empty, and so have never thought that might indicate a problem. It is a very infrequent occurrence since her stomach is very rarely empty (!), unlike the stomach of my other dog, who was not food orientated at all and would often go two or three days without eating anything.

Any suggestions about what might be going on here? I don't really want to start putting her through a whole load of tests if it turns out to be a false alarm, and while she is insured my insurer will only cover 35 per cent of the costs after the £95 excess so it could prove to be expensive.

Any advice would be welcome!

Many thanks,

Genny Stallabrass, Bourton-on-the-Water

Please note: veterinary advice should not be given by those not qualified to do so, but owners can benefit from the experience and support from others in the doggie world who have been in similar situations


  1. I have an 11 year old Collie who, at the age of just 10, did exactly this! She had elevated liver levels during a routine 'old age' blood test and my vet recommended a supplement which you can buy on-line called 'Hepatosyl Plus'. It's about £60 for 90 capsules. She started off on two capsules a day, then went down to one capsule a day and then to one capsule every other day. Her liver levels were tested every 6 weeks and came steadily down until a couple of months ago. I upped her Hepatosyl to 2 a day again which brought her levels down again and she's down to one a day currently because of a series of general anaesthetics for other reasons. Absolutely magic supplement!

  2. I would go with the advice of your vet. You are always able to talk to them and if you want further blood tests then go ahead. You can also ask about the use of herbal or homeopathic support for your dog's liver.

    The liver is a great organ and is able to repair itself, espcially if not stressed so check what your dog is eating.

  3. As a vet myself I would strongly recommend going with your own vets advice. Liver disease if caught early can be well managed but if left too late the damage can be irreperable. It is not generally normal even for older dogs to have elevated liver enzymes, it is just more common to find liver disease in this age group. If you are concerned re the financial implications talk to your vet about it, they are more than used to working within peoples budgets and may have alternative suggestions as to where you go from here. Incidentally Hepatosyl Plus is an excellent supplement and I also highly recommend it (not cheap but cheaper online!).