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What does an enlarged liver mean in a dog?

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An enlarged liver can be a sign of liver disease in a dog. However, puppies have larger livers compared to older dogs, so a larger liver may not be cause for alarm in younger dogs.

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Liver disease is more common in older adult dogs than it is in younger dogs. An enlarged liver can be a sign of a number of different liver diseases. Enlargement in the entire liver usually indicates inflammation or infection. It can also be a symptom of chronic conditions such as hepatitis or chronic liver disease. Enlargement in part of the liver is often a sign of cysts, tumors or hemorrhages in the liver. Liver diseases can also result from toxicity, such as drug toxicity or exposure to toxic plants or molds. It can also result from diabetes or a fatty diet. Although liver enlargement is a common symptom of liver problems, it can also signify illnesses in other areas of the body. For example, it is a symptom of heart disease, heartworms, a diaphragmatic hernia and tumors in other parts of the body.

Liver diseases often carry other symptoms. These include appetite loss, weight loss, increased thirst, frequent urination, bloody urine or stools, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, instability while walking, confusion and a build-up of fluids in the stomach.

Vets can diagnose liver disease through X-rays, blood tests and urine tests. Treatment options may include changes in diet, medication, supplements or surgery.

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