Rascal’s Liver Disease

Rascal’s is a preanesthesia laboratory success story, eerily similar to our own Peyton’s story.

In preparation for dental scaling and polishing, just like Peyton, we performed routine screening laboratory tests: CBC, Chemistry Profile and Urinalysis. These tests help us to know whether his major organs were functioning correctly (pancreas, liver and kidneys), as well as give us information about red blood cells and white blood cells.

Rascal is a very pretty boy.  We are sad that he has a bad disease.
Rascal is a very pretty boy. We are sad that he has a bad disease.

Again like Peyton, Rascal’s liver numbers were abnormal and there was no obvious cause. We did, however, key on the fact that Rascal’s two first upper molars looked diseased. It is a known fact that dental calculus which leads to gum disease can cause a response by the liver which results in liver inflammation. Obviously, the prognosis for that condition is far better than primary liver disease.

Step One, then, was to begin a 3-week regimen of antibiotic therapy while simultaneously supporting the liver with a class of neutraceuticals called SAM-E. SAM-E stands for s-adenosylmethionine and comes in a number of brands. We are using one called Denosyl, which is made by the Nutramax Laboratories company.

This is symptomatic therapy aimed at improving the liver’s condition in case there is infection (in the gums and/or the liver) as well as Denosyl to help reduce inflammation in the liver and help support it metabolically.

After four weeks we re-tested Rascal and found some improvement. Sufficient improvement, in fact, that we were able to proceed to anesthesia and dental care for Rascal and not only scale and polish all of the teeth, but extract the diseased teeth, if necessary.

I can’t recall an occasion in which I actually hoped that a patient would have abscessed teeth, but if I got into Rascal’s mouth and found the teeth really bad, that might have been a non-hepatic cause for the liver disease.

Sadly, that was not to be the case.

While there was substantial calculus buildup, once it was removed the teeth were fine, solidly in their sockets and there was no evidence of root disease.

Now the owners find themselves wrestling with the question of whether to proceed with liver biopsy, which could give us a definitive answer about why Rascal’s liver is unhappy, as well as to direct us to specific treatment. However, the slow economy is affecting everyone, and Rascal has grey in his black face because he is thirteen years old. These are factors many pet owners must take into consideration when deciding about an invasive diagnostic procedure for a pet.

You, too, may have a pet facing dental care, or anesthesia for another reason. If your pet’s doctor gives you the option for preanesthesia laboratory testing, take it. It could mean the difference between life and death.


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