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08/04/08
Monday - Ask the Vet
Filed under: General, Canine Health, Ask the Vet
Posted by: The Gundogdoc @ 10:58 am

Q.) Can liver enzyme levels become elevated because of food allergies?

A.)  Liver enzymes are a tricky area of interpretation. There are a number of things that can influence them, and they must be interpreted in the context of symptoms, magnitude of increase, medications, age of the dog, etc. etc.

With a food sensitivity or allergy I would not expect to find elevated liver enzymes. Now, a food toxin is another matter. For instance, the toxins seen in some of the recent food recalls can and do affect the liver and cause elevations in liver enzymes.

My typical plan of attack with liver enzyme elevations is to evaluate the big picture to make my game plan for moving forward. If the dog presented because it is sick, I likely would pursue it aggressively right away. This can range from liver function testing (usually done with bile acid testing), x-rays, utrasound, and potentialy a biopsy. If the elevation was found on a pre-surgical profile or routine screening in an outwardly healthy dog with no other blood work changes, we may just wait a couple of weeks and repeat the values to see if there is a change. The key is interpreting the dog’s health as a big picture and not just as one symptom or one blood work value. Once you have the big picture in mind, you can proceed with a diagnostic plan.

The one footnote I will say is that sometimes liver enzymes can lead down a path of no answers and can be somewhat frustrating. We have several older dogs in the practice with slightly elevated enzymes that we have never been able to explain. The specialists will agree that there is a certain set of dogs with slightly elevated values that do not necessarily have a medical problem.

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