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High liver enzymes.

Species: Dog
Breed: Sharpei/Chow MIx
Age: 1-2 years
I had placed Archie in a board and care home while we were on vacation. After coming home, I had taken Archie to his vet the following day for an examination, which the vet said he was healthy. A couple of days later, Archie started to sneeze more than usual and his nose was runny more than usual as well. We took him to the vet, who had noticed his tonsils were inflamed, but otherwise, Archie was fine upon examination. The vet ordered doxycycline and prednisone for two weeks and a follow-up after the medications were finished. Archie finished the medications on time and when we had a follow-up appointment, the vet examined him and stated that he's doing much better. However, a couple of days later, he vomited several times in one day, which made us bring him back to the vet. The vet did blood work, which shown his liver enzymes were extremely high with one value not being able to register. (Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the values, but I will be obtaining them in a few hours). The vet stated we can put him on a treatment, but that it may not work and that putting him down is also an option. Archie's temperament has not change. He's still an active, happy dog. He is still eating and drinking as he usually does. I've read many articles since getting the news especially on prednisone and supplements that can help promote liver function, which leads me to my question.

Once I start him on supplements after consulting with his vet, will his liver enzymes go down especially since he has just finished the prednisone a couple of days ago?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that Archie is having these problems. It sounds like there is a lot that we still don't know about his situation.

From what you've written I see the following: He was boarding and shortly after he came home he was sneezing with a runny nose. He was put on antibiotics and prednisone and improved, but then started vomiting. His blood work showed very high liver enzymes.

When I see a Sharpei dog with high liver enzymes I wonder about a very serious condition called hepatic amyloidosis. Dogs with severely high liver enzymes and this condition unfortunately do not survive. It is something that Sharpeis can be born with a genetic disposition towards.

However, amyloidosis doesn't fit with the respiratory signs. I really can't think of any condition that would start with respiratory signs and end in severe liver disease.

In people, doxycycline can cause severe liver damage. It has not been reported as far as I know in dogs. There really isn't a way to test if this is the cause though. It's very unlikely to be because of the prednisone.

I think that your vet's plan is a good one. If this were my case I would be putting him on some liver supplements and recheck his liver enzymes in a few weeks. I would also offer you more tests for the liver such as an ultrasound guided biopsy but this is expensive and does come with a little bit of risk.

Liver issues can be difficult to understand and often it can be frustrating when we don't know what is going on.

I really hope things are better soon.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.