What Is Cholestatic Hepatopathy in Dogs?

by Naomi Millburn
    Some lines of Westies are particularly prone to copper storage hepatopathy.

    Some lines of Westies are particularly prone to copper storage hepatopathy.

    Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    If your adorable pooch is dealing with suspected problems with his liver, then it's important to get him to the veterinarian immediately for a thorough examination. Most types of hepatopathy -- also called liver disease -- appear more frequently in canines that are at least of middle age. The term liver disease can refer to a handful of liver ailments. Cholestatic liver disease, however, specifically involves bile duct blockage.

    The liver is a glandular organ that gives off bile, which is an alkaline substance. Bile is responsible for many of the body's digestive processes, including those that involve elimination. After the liver initially manufactures bile, it promptly travels to the gallbladder. Then, it waits for digestion to complete. Once digestion occurs, bile moves onto the small intestine where it handles its digestive duties. When dogs develop cholestasis, their bile ducts experience blockage that stops their passage between the liver and an area of the small intestine known as the duodenum. The duodenum is situated just underneath the stomach.

    Various medical conditions can trigger cholestasis in dogs, including hepatopathies, which are also known as diseases of the liver. Other ailments that can bring upon cholestasis in dogs are those that are related to the pancreas and gallbladder. Cholelithiasis, for example, is a gallbladder-linked disorder that can occasionally lead to cholestasis in canines. Some dogs can even develop cholestasis as a reaction to surgeries of the stomach.

    If you're worried that your pet might have cholestasis, pay close attention to him for any telltale symptoms. Jaundice, for one, is a classic sign of the condition. Jaundice is characterized by the yellowing of the skin. Some other oft-seen indications of cholestasis in canines are exhaustion, unusual lightness of bowel movements, urine discoloration, absence of appetite, reduced weight, throwing up and stomachache, to start. Hints of cholestasis often differ based on the specific medical conditions that brought upon the issue in the first place, however. Dogs that exhibit any of these symptoms must always receive prompt veterinary care.

    Extended cases of cholestatic liver disease in dogs can cause secondary copper buildup -- an effect of irregular bile passage. This is referred to as copper storage hepatopathy. Copper storage hepatopathy is hazardous because it can bring upon hepatitis and destruction of the liver -- cirrhosis. Situations of copper storage hepatopathy have appeared in dogs of many different breeds, according to veterinarian Jörg M. Steiner, author of the book "Small Animal Gastroenterology."

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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