Hyperadrenocorticism in a dog is a potentially fatal disorder caused by adrenal dysfunction. This malfunction leads to an excess production of a hormone called cortisone. Commonly known as Cushing’s disease, it remains one of the most dreaded of all canine diseases.
Cushing’s disease in dogs causes a marked suppression in the immune system. This leads to multiple infections. To escape elimination by the immune system, bacteria often find a safe haven in the gall bladder.
Cushing’s disease can make it easier for the bacteria to accumulate in the gall bladder and the liver. This can cause conditions like liver dysfunction or hepatitis. Treatment of such a condition can involve a lengthy regimen of preventive and remedial measures.
If your dog has Cushing’s disease, make sure that his liver and gall bladder are kept clean and free of toxins. This can be done by understanding the manner in which the liver functions.
The liver is the organ that is the first to come in contact with toxins after food is processed by the digestive system. This is true for the human body system as well as for your pet. Since the liver is a fairly large organ, minor damage is not easily noticed.
The liver secretes an alkaline, green fluid called bile. This fluid is stored in the gall bladder between meals. During the eating process, bile is squirted through the bile duct into the small intestines. The bile produced by the liver acts like a cleansing agent and helps in faster enzyme action by increasing the surface area of consumed fat. The passage that connects the liver, gall bladder, and small intestines is also a convenient passage for bacteria to travel.
Bile is mainly constituted of cholesterol derivatives called bile acids. After the bile enables the process of digestion, part of the bile acids gets reabsorbed by the liver. The remainder passes through the intestines and is ejected in feces.
An unhealthy liver can lead to many abnormal conditions. The cholesterol in bile can occasionally accumulate into a compact mass forming gallstones. Low production of bile results in indigestion of fats. This leads to further movement of toxins down the intestines. Since almost all fats are absorbed in the small intestine, the bacterial organisms in the large intestines are incapable of processing food after a certain time.
To be able to identify a liver disorder, look for external symptoms like increased lethargy, loss of appetite, and diarrhea in your dog.
Some bile acids are toxic in nature. Although the bile acids produced by the liver of a dog or a cat are less toxic than those in human bile, the intestinal bacteria in your dog can potentially turn non-toxic bile acids into toxic ones. You can use certain artificial bile acids like Ursodeoxycholic (trade name Actigall) to treat liver dysfunction in your dog. Actigall is a recommended in conditions of low bile production. Actigall can also help to improve liver functioning and protect the liver from becoming infected.