The 12 Best Dog Food for Liver Disease in Canines

The right dog food can help your pet fight diseases and lead a long, healthy life. When it comes to liver problems, managing your dog’s diet is no exception.

Specific diets can ward off life-threatening liver failure and help reduce your dog’s pain. It can even help the liver repair itself.

Sick English Bulldog ignoring the food

Take a look at some of the best foods for dogs with liver disease:

Top 5 Picks for Best Dog Food for Liver Disease in 2021

  Dog Food for Liver Disease Our Rating
Best Overall Dog Food for Liver Disease Hill’s Prescription Diet l/d Liver Care Original Canned Dog Food

  • Helps the liver to regenerate through the inclusion of high-quality protein
  • Contains high levels of L-carnitine and L-arginine for fat metabolism
  • With Vitamin E and C for cell oxidation
4.8
Best Budget Dog Food for Liver Disease CANIDAE — All Life Stages Multi-Protein Formula Dry Dog Food (Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, and Fish)

  • Multi-protein formula with premium ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, and lamb
  • Free of common allergens to support digestion
  • Vet-formulated recipe suitable for dogs of all breeds, sizes, and ages
4.6
Best Puppy Food for Liver Disease The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food 

  • Full of highly digestible proteins such as cage-free turkey
  • Created with Zinc and Vitamin E for boosted liver function
  • Free of soy, wheat, corn, preservatives, GMO, and by-products
4.6
Best Adult Dog Food for Liver Disease Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe Adult Large Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food 

  • A unique raw blend of natural ingredients 
  • Grain-free recipe with no preservatives, artificial flavors, and by-products 
  • It contains excellent sources of phosphorus, vitamin B6, selenium, and niacin
4.6
Best Senior Dog Food for Liver Disease Royal Canin Hepatic Formula Vet Diet Dog Food

  • Contains a unique blend of antioxidants for building a healthy immune system
  • Includes highly digestible vegetable proteins for supporting liver function
4.6

Best Dog Food for Liver Disease (by Life Stage)

The proper diet is vital for controlling liver disease symptoms and helping your dog’s liver restore itself. 

A sick Jackapoo puppy sitting on the bed
A sick Jackapoo puppy sitting on his comfy bed – Image source

Best Puppy Food for Liver Disease

Does your small puppy already have symptoms of liver disease? They can still lead a long and healthy life with proper management. 

Fortunately, there’s a dog food suited for puppies who are showing signs of liver disease.

1. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food Whole Grain Turkey Recipe 

The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food Whole Grain Turkey Recipe

Rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Dehydrated Turkey, Organic Oats, Dehydrated Potatoes
Type: Dehydrated

Natural and straightforward dehydrated dog food, this recipe is packed full of highly digestible proteins, such as cage-free turkey. Just add water to create delicious food suitable for all life stages.

In addition, this food is made with Zinc and Vitamin E, which are designed to boost liver function. 

Pros:

  • Free of soy, wheat, corn, preservatives, GMO, and by-products
  • Minimally processed food using whole-food, natural ingredients from the USA

Cons:

  • Some pet owners did not care for the mushy consistency the dehydrated process creates

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Best Adult Dog Food for Liver Disease

A sick Wirehaired Dachshund portrait
Meet Tommy, a Wirehaired Dachshund recuperating after fever – Image source

A variety of commercial diets have been created specifically to care for dogs with liver disease. Here are some of the best options available:

2. Hill’s Prescription Diet Dog Food Liver Care

Hill's Prescription Diet l/d Liver Care Original Canned Dog Food

Rating: 4.8
Top Ingredients: Water, Rice, Chicken Fat
Type: Wet

This prescription diet comes from the leader of science diets for dogs – Hill’s. It has been formulated by veterinarians and nutritionists to offer the right ingredients for dogs with liver problems.

It contains all essential vitamins and minerals with highly digestible proteins and low sodium levels. 

Pros:

  • Helps the liver to regenerate through the inclusion of high-quality protein
  • Contains high levels of L-carnitine and L-arginine for fat metabolism, as well as Vitamin E and C for cell oxidation and a healthy immune system

Cons:

  • It’s difficult to find and often only stocked by specific vets. Also, you need vet authorization to buy this food online.
  • Expensive

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3. CANIDAE — All Life Stages Multi-Protein Formula Dry Dog Food (Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, and Fish)

Canidae All Life Stages Multi-Protein Formula

Rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Lamb Meal
Type: Dry

Multi-protein dry dog food formula that offers a balanced, delicious meal for your dog. This dog food features premium ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, and lamb, to build a robust immune system and fight disease.

This nutritionally-dense food is also free of common allergens to support digestion.

Pros:

  • Vet-formulated recipe suitable for dogs of all breeds, sizes, and ages
  • Includes HealthPLUS Solutions which is a trio of probiotics, antioxidants, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

Cons:

  • Some dog owners said this food was too crumbly

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4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Dog Food Adult Large Breed Grain-Free Chicken Recipe 

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Healthy Weight

Rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein
Type: Dry

A unique raw blend of natural ingredients designed to mimic the diet of your pup’s wild ancestors. This grain-free recipe features real chicken as the main ingredient and is free of artificial flavors, preservatives, and by-products.

Blue Buffalo is also well-known for its LifeSource Bits blend of essential minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants for complete body nutrition.

Pros:

  • Contains excellent sources of vitamin B6, phosphorus, niacin, and selenium
  • Designed with a controlled amount of fat calories for helping dogs maintain a healthy weight

Cons:

  • Contains high levels of peas, which is linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)

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5. Purina Pro Plan Shredded Blend Adult Dry Dog Food Lamb & Rice Formula

Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend Lamb & Rice Formula

Rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Lamb, Rice, Poultry By-product Meal
Type: Dry

This dry dog food has a rich nutrient profile featuring essential fatty acids and lamb as the main ingredient.

It’s formulated with prebiotic fiber and live probiotics and a palatable combination of meaty shreds and dry kibble, which aids in digestion and puts less stress on the liver.

Pros:

  • Features optimal levels of protein and fat for maintaining an ideal body condition
  • Contains vitamin A and linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, for healthy skin and coat

Cons:

  • Some pet owners complained their dogs suffered from diarrhea after eating this dog food

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6. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice
Type: Dry

A holistic, healthy dry dog food with a formula that includes real ingredients such as chicken, garden veggies, whole grains, and fruits.

This diet contains Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits, a blend of nutrients that have been enhanced with a super seven package of antioxidant-rich components for improved health.

Pros:

  • Includes calcium, phosphorus, and essential vitamins for healthy bones and teeth and Glucosamine for joint health
  • Contains no corn, wheat, soy, or by-product meals

Cons:

  • Some dogs had terrible flatulence on this diet

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7. Forza10 Nutraceutic Sensitive Digestion Grain-Free Recipe 

Forza10 Nutraceutic Sensitive Digestion Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Anchovy Meal, Peas, Fava Beans
Type: Dry

Created for dogs with sensitive stomachs and digestion issues by a brand founded by an Italian vet. This diet has been designed to assist with liver disease and improve your pup’s overall health and well-being.

This food features wild-caught anchovy meal as the top ingredient, offering plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Pros:

  • Made from raw, uncontaminated materials for the speedy relief of any symptoms
  • Limited-ingredient, grain-free recipe from a brand that is part of the I.N.P. Integrated Nutritional Program

Cons:

  • The kibble is large so may not be well-suited to smaller breeds

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8. Halo Vegan Dry Dog Food

Halo Holistic Chicken-Free Garden of Vegan Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Chickpeas, Green Peas, Pearled Barley
Type: Dry

Plant-based dog food that offers a great alternative to traditional meat-based diets for sensitive doggies. This digestible, all-natural diet is both grain and GMO-free with no additional preservatives or artificial flavors. 

Pros:

  • A great budget alternative to veterinary diets for dogs with liver problems
  • Includes sustainably sourced ingredients like green peas, wholesome grains, and chickpeas

Cons:

  • This vegan diet may need to be supplemented by other additives

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9. Wellness Complete Health Adult Dry Dog Food (Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal)

Wellness Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe

Rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal
Type: Dry

Natural dry dog food with carefully chosen ingredients such as wholesome proteins and grains for whole-body health. It’s designed to optimize energy levels and build a robust immune system.

Pros:

  • Supported by antioxidants, omega fatty acids, probiotics, glucosamine, and taurine
  • Developed without any GMOs, meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives

Cons:

  • Some pet owners complained their dogs had an upset stomach on this diet

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10. Castor & Pollux Grain Free Organix

Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Sweet Potatoes
Type: Dry

Organic nutrition featuring a delicious chicken and sweet potato-based recipe. This food also contains a blend of superfoods and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, such as flaxseed and blueberries. 

Pros:

  • Cooked in an organically-certified USA kitchen
  • Contains no artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, corn, wheat, soy, chickpeas, or lentils

Cons:

  • Very expensive

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Best Senior Dog Food for Liver Disease

Senior Shih Tzu laying on a picnic mat
A senior Shih Tzu dog taking a nap under the sun – Image source

As your dog progresses into the advanced stages of its life, it could show some more severe symptoms of liver failure.

Help make your senior dog’s life more comfortable with an easy-to-digest food that gives them the nutrients they need.

11. Royal Canin Hepatic Formula Vet Diet Dog Food

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hepatic Formula Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Corn, Brown Rice
Type: Dry

The Royal Canin Hepatic Formula is a veterinary diet with high fiber levels, increased zinc, restricted copper, and the optimal nutrients to keep your dog’s liver in top shape.

This crunchy kibble only includes ingredients proven to keep your dog’s liver healthy while also being extremely palatable for sick pups. This nutrient-rich canine hepatic diet is also designed to boost the energy levels of your dog.

Pros:

  • Contains a unique blend of antioxidants for building a healthy immune system
  • Includes highly digestible vegetable proteins for supporting liver function

Cons:

  • You will need authorization from a vet to buy this food online

CHECK PRICE HERE

12. Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Coated

Instinct Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken

Rating: 4.2
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas
Type: Dry

Grain-free dry kibble that features all-natural, high-quality ingredients, including real cage-free chicken as the first ingredient. This animal-protein-rich formula is highly digestible, thus releasing any unnecessary strain on the liver.

The raw nutrition also offers plenty of wholesome vegetables, with guaranteed probiotics, natural omegas, and antioxidants.

Pros:

  • Doesn’t contain any grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors, or preservatives

Cons:

  • Gave some dogs an upset stomach and runny stool 

CHECK PRICE HERE

What Causes Liver Disease in Dogs? 

A Yorkie looking so brave fighting its disease
Meet Olivia, a Yorkshire Terrier who has an MVD – Image source

Liver disease is often caused by a viral infection known as canine hepatitis. Hepatitis and other conditions can increase enzymes in the liver, leading to swelling or inflammation.

Liver enzymes can also build up due to fats, a condition known as fatty liver disease.

On the other hand, the bacterial infection Leptospirosis also causes liver disease in dogs and is transmitted through soil or water that contains urine from an infected individual. 

Liver disease is often associated with inflammation which can be brought on by cancer, parasites, or fungal infection.

Some other common causes of liver disease include abdominal trauma, hemolytic anemia, exposure to toxins, and immune disorders. Also, some inherited traits and genetics can lead to liver disease.

What are the Common Signs and Symptoms of Liver Disease for Dogs?

Doxies comfortably laying on a soft couch
Meet Miles and Missy, two Dachshunds cuddling on the couch – Image source

The common symptoms of liver disease for dogs include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, and sometimes abdominal pain.

Often, dogs in the early stages of the disease do not exhibit any symptoms as the liver can remain functional even at a limited capacity. That said, identifying the disease early can help to prolong the life of your dog.

The disease’s more apparent symptoms include jaundice, orange urine, a light grey or bloody stool, intense itching, swelling, and memory and concentration issues.

With jaundice being one of the most recognizable liver disease symptoms, it’s essential to watch out for this with your dog. Signs of jaundice include a yellow tongue, eyes, or mucous membranes. 

Liver disease can eventually lead to fatal liver failure. Symptoms of the end stages of liver failure include swelling of the legs and abdomen, neurological issues like circling and seizures, and easy bruising and bleeding. 

During these late liver disease stages, your dog may also suffer from hepatic encephalopathy, a brain disease related to liver failure, swelling on the gallbladder, and necrosis or tissue death.

Buyers’ Guide on Dog Foods for Dogs with Liver Disease

Jack Russell dog in between healthy & unhealthy food
A Jack Russell dog in between healthy & unhealthy food

The right diet can make a world of difference when it comes to the level of enzymes in your pup’s liver. So examining what food you give your dog is the first step when it comes to fighting liver disease.

Why is having a healthy diet so important for dogs with liver disorders?

Liver disease and digestive problems are intrinsically linked, and thus diet plays a vital role in your dog’s healthy functioning.

The liver helps with digestion through bile production while helping remove wastes and toxins from the body. 

However, if compromised through disease, the liver not only harms itself, but the enzymes leak out of the liver cells into the bloodstream and can also stop the proper function of other organs, like the brain and the heart. 

Unfortunately, it can decrease your dog’s appetite, so picking delicious and enticing food will be critical. 

You will also want to ensure your pet’s diet includes the proper balance of nutrients and that it is free of unnatural fillers and harmful chemicals. 

What types of dog food diet is good for your dog’s liver?

There are various diets to choose from for your dog, including prescription diets, homemade dog food, commercial dog food, and combination diets. 

A prescription diet is a specialized diet that your vet has prescribed. Vets and scientists have created these foods to fight specific ailments, and typically you will need a letter of authorization from your vet to buy this type of food. 

You can also try and make your own dog food with a homemade diet. In this case, it’s crucial to work with a dog nutritionist who can advise you on what ingredients and amounts of each to include to ensure your dog is obtaining the correct nutrients.

Like those listed above, commercial dog foods provide well-balanced levels of nutrients and are more readily available and cheaper than prescription options. Finally, combination diets include a variety of all of the above. 

What things do you need to look for in the best dog foods for liver disease?

The wrong ingredients can increase the liver’s toxicity levels, which can worsen your dog’s condition. Avoid a diet high in sodium and copper

Elevated levels of these two ingredients can put unnecessary stress on the liver, while copper poisoning can cause severe issues in dogs that already have liver issues.

Some foods that contain high copper content include salmon, pork, and duck. Liver and organ meats should also be avoided.

Your dog’s diet should also contain moderate levels of protein. While a high-protein content is not a problem per se, the ammonia content in protein can cause issues in dogs with liver problems.

This is why you might find some vets recommending a low-protein diet for dogs with liver issues. 

The protein content of your dog’s diet should be supplied by high-quality proteins such as real chicken, turkey, lamb, or white fish.

These high-quality protein sources will have the least amount of ammonia but still contain essential amino acids. In addition, dairy products such as yogurt, ricotta, cottage cheese, and goat cheese are also excellent protein sources.

Dogs suffering from liver health concerns should also not be fed a diet high in reduced sugars or refined carbohydrates.

On the other hand, complex carbs with high levels of soluble fiber will help absorb ammonia and reduce nitrogenous waste. Foods like oatmeal, white rice, barley, and pumpkin are beneficial sources of fiber.

Also, it is best to look for food with low to moderate levels of fat as the breakdown of fat can be a challenge for dogs with liver disease.

Fats are, however, essential for getting your dog calories and boosting energy levels, so don’t try and avoid them altogether. 

The following supplements will be fantastic additions to your dog’s healthy diet:

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
  • Calcium
  • L-Arginine
  • L-Carnitine
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Zinc

Some of these supplements can be found in naturally occurring ingredients like fish oil, coconut oil, figs, watermelon, and blueberries.

To grain or not to grain: Is a grain-free diet option better for dogs with hepatic disease?

Whether or not to include grains in your dog’s diet will depend on your dog’s predisposition to digesting grains.

For example, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, then grain-free food may be the best option as it won’t put any further stress on the liver or digestive system. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

An empty side of a bowl
An empty side of a dog food bowl

How do you restrict sodium intake if your dog is diagnosed with liver disease?

The best way to restrict sodium in your pet’s diet is to cut out salt altogether.

Look out for any ingredients that naturally contain sodium and cut these foods out of your dog’s diet, including administering any treats or making homemade food.

When choosing a kibble for your dog, be sure to check the ingredients and opt for one that has low or no sodium. 

What treatment should you give your dog with liver disease?

The liver is one of those organs that can repair and regenerate. That doesn’t mean that liver disease shouldn’t be taken seriously.

The right diet, combined with medication prescribed by your vet, can assist in repairing your dog’s liver and improving function. 

You can prevent potentially fatal complications by getting early treatment for your pet before the toxins in the liver start to affect their other organs. 

In addition to changing your dog’s diet to a liver-friendly option, you can try to alter their feeding schedule.

Your dog can be fed smaller amounts throughout the day rather than the regular two-meal schedule. This more regular feeding can help improve digestion and, in turn, liver function.

Seek Out Veterinary Advice When Choosing Dog Food for Liver Disease

Veterinarian taking observation notes on a sick Labrador Retriever dog
A sick Labrador Retriever dog being checkup at the veterinary clinic

We highly recommend Hill’s Prescription l/d Liver Care Formula if your dog suffers from liver disease. It offers balanced nutrition for your pup to help support your dog’s liver function during its healing process.

For pup owners on a tight budget, we recommend CANIDAE All Life Stages Multi-protein Formula. It’s more affordable compared to Hill’s Prescription Diet but still offers the same balanced nutrition for your dog.

It also contains probiotics for easier digestion which means less stress on your dog’s liver.

Liver disease is a severe issue that cannot be treated with a change of diet alone.

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from liver health issues, consult a veterinarian who will be able to provide you with proper advice and treatment when it comes to caring for your precious pooch. 

Also, speak with your vet before introducing any dietary changes to your dog. 

Do you have dog food that your pet loves? Let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading: Dog foods for health problems

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