Icterus is a term used to describe the clinical appearance of hyperbilirubinemia. While reference values may vary, in most instances a serum bilrubin > 1 mg/dl is considered abnormal but clinically detectable icterus usually does not occur until the bilirubin is > 3 mg/dl.
Hepatoprotective agents are receiving attention for their role in the ancillary treatment of liver disease in dogs and cats. These products include both prescription drugs and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, nutraceuticals). A drug is defined as "any substance, food, or nonfood that is used to treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent a disease and any nonfood substance that is intended to affect the structure or function of man or animals".
An increase in serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity is a common laboratory finding in dogs. It is typically used as a diagnostic marker for cholestatic liver disease. However, increased ALP activity has a high sensitivity (86%) but poor specificity (49%) for canine liver disease.
Drug-induced injury is an important cause of hepatic disease in dogs and cats. The incidence of drug-induced hepatic disease is unknown but is probably underestimated. Many drugs have been suspected of causing hepatic injury in dogs and cats. Most adverse hepatic drug reactions are associated with acute hepatic injury.
Copper is an essential trace element in diets and is required for a number of physiologically important enzymes. Cells have highly specialized and complex systems for maintaining intracellular copper concentrations. At toxic concentrations, free intracellular copper initiates oxidative damage causing hepatocellular necrosis and inflammation.
Portosystemic shunts (PSS) are vascular communications between the portal and systemic venous systems that allow portal blood to access the systemic circulation without first passing through the liver. Signs of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) dominate the clinical picture because of inadequate hepatic clearance of enterically-derived toxins.
This study confirms that in dogs with confirmed primary chronic hepatitis, those patients with ascites at the time of diagnosis will have significantly decreased survival times compared with those without ascites.