Every dog loves to bask in the euphoria of having a walk in the park, playing fetch and sniffing flowers, but such a fun could come to an end if it comes in contact with a toxic plant. Plant intoxication amongst other factors are one of the causes of elevated liver enzymes. These enzymes play a remarkable role in body metabolism, breakdown and detoxification of substances.

When these enzymes become elevated beyond normal, it’s an indication that there is a health threat. As a concerned dog owner, making sure your dog has a healthy liver should be your top priority. In this article we will walk you through some of the key intricacies of what liver enzymes entails, what it causes when elevated and how to treat them.

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  1. What Does High Liver Enzymes Mean in Dogs
  2. Causes of Elevated Liver Enzymes in Dogs
  3. Dog Liver Enzymes Normal Range Chart
  4. What to Feed a Dog with High Liver Enzyme
  5. Treating High Liver Enzymes in Dogs
  6. FAQs
  7. Conclusion

What Does High Liver Enzymes Mean in Dogs

Liver enzymes can be likened to body temperature, when high, it causes a fever which is an indicator of something going wrong within the body. High Liver enzymes means there is something happening to the liver or the body that is not normal. They serve as an indication for abnormalities like an inflammation (Hepatitis) or even a chronic liver problem.

Since these enzymes play a crucial role in metabolism and break down of different substances such as drugs and toxins, they would also help to notify the body when these substances or toxins are in excess due to an abnormality or health condition.

The more toxins the liver has to detoxify, the more liver enzymes it produces. In order to combat the excessive amount of substances needed to be broken down and detoxified, the liver produces a corresponding amount of enzymes which can go overboard and thus elevate the liver enzyme levels in the blood.

On the contrary, if the enzyme levels are mildly high, there is a high chance it is a temporary condition and would resolve on its own.

“In healthy dogs, an elevation of liver enzymes may not necessarily be a problem if the increase is mild which will then require a follow up blood test to confirm it has resolved” - Dr. Ann Hohenhaus

Causes of Elevated Liver Enzymes in Dogs

There are several reasons why the liver enzymes could be elevated. It could be due to a mild infection or a more severe problem like a liver disease. Helping your dog overcome any liver related health issues starts with knowing what could result in it. The following are some factors that could cause elevated liver enzymes in dogs;


In the course of an abdominal trauma, the liver could be affected which could lead to a liver injury. My dog had one time sustained an abdominal Injury and when some tests and scans were carried out, it was discovered that Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels were high due to some injury sustained by the liver.

Drug Toxicity

Some medications could be life threatening and cause liver damage if not given with caution. Some dogs are allergic to some medications like nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), while others show adverse reactions if given in the wrong dosage.

Toxins/ Poisoning

Pesticides, insecticides and plant toxins could be hazardous to your dogs when inhaled causing severe liver damage. In a bid to mitigate the effects of these toxins, the liver produces more enzymes than usual.

A friend of mine had complained about her dog showing some signs of toxicity such as seizures and vomiting. When a proper history was taken, it was discovered that they had let it wander off without knowing its whereabouts and it might have ingested a poisonous plant.

Tests were carried out and elevated liver enzymes were found in the blood which was linked to plant toxicity. If they had a Petcube tracker, they would have been able to track the dog's movement and activity. Get the Petcube tracker from our store and enjoy a whooping 40% discount.


Infections that occur alongside diseases like chronic heart failure, hepatitis, Liver Cirrhosis and chronic liver disease could be overwhelming for both the body and the liver causing the liver to overwork itself therefore producing excessive amounts of enzymes.


When cancer spreads to the liver, it becomes difficult to manage, cancer can also be linked to high production of liver enzymes. High ALT and AST levels are indications of a possible ongoing liver damage which could also be related to Cancer. All these factors singularly or as a whole contribute to what causes high liver enzymes in dogs.

Dog Liver Enzymes Normal Range Chart

The dog’s liver enzymes constitute majorly of AST, ALT, ALP and GGT which all have different functions at normal healthy levels. In certain occasions, the dog liver enzyme levels can shoot above 1000 especially due to drug toxicity. Knowing the normal range of Liver enzymes in dogs would help guide us in identifying when there is a problem.

Below is a chart showing the normal levels for various liver enzymes in dogs

Enzyme Normal Range
ALT 10-130 IU/L
AST 10-34 IU/L
ALP 24-147 IU/L
GGT 0-25 IU/L
ALB 2.7-4.4 g/dL
Total Bilirubin 0-0.8 mg/dL
Cholesterol 110-220 mg/dL

What to Feed a Dog with High Liver Enzyme

To help your dog recover faster from high liver enzymes, one needs to know what food causes high liver enzymes in dogs. Food high in salt, sugar, carbohydrate and copper should be avoided. Foods like duck, beef or pork meat should be avoided or reduced a great deal.

Dogs with increased liver enzymes should be fed food rich in protein, such as fish, egg or chicken. Vegetables are also a healthy food for the liver, vegetables like broccoli and carrots are highly recommended. These can also go well with a mild 10-20% carbohydrates combinations such as millet or brown rice.

These meals in combination have some soothing effects on the liver such as anti- inflammatory, oxidative and tonic effects.

Treating High Liver Enzymes in Dogs

Treating high liver enzymes in dogs starts with knowing the underlying cause. A proper clinical diagnosis which includes a series of blood tests and liver function tests will be carried out to ascertain the root cause of the condition.

Running these tests could really be financially demanding, to relieve you of some of these financial burdens, you can take advantage of our Petcube Emergency Fund. We offer a 27% discount of up to $3000 on all money spent on emergencies by our subscribers.

Other tests like imaging and histopathology could also be considered after which the following are recommend as a treatment plan;

Change of Diet

There are special diets for dogs prepared and recommended by the Veterinarian to support the liver during stress. This kind of diet would aid the liver fight off infection and prevent further damage.

Fluid Therapy

Fluid therapy in case of dehydration is a great inclusion during treatment for high liver enzymes in dogs. Dogs through this therapy regain lost fluid in the course of dehydration.

Antibiotic Therapy

The first line of action might be to rule out any possible form of infections, thus the use of antibiotics and immunosuppressants to curtail any existing infection in the body or liver. This would help reduce the burden on the liver and aid in subsequent moderation of the liver enzymes.

Supportive Therapy

The use of antioxidants such as Vitamin E and Denamarin to aid in oxidative and antioxidative balance in the liver would go a long way to alleviating high liver enzymes in dogs. In the course of treatment, the liver enzyme levels are monitored for improvement and medications that help to improve bile flow such as ursodiol might be included.


In a severe case of cancer or a bile duct obstruction, surgery will be resorted to in order to remove the underlying liver tumour or gallstones.

Going under the knife could really be stressful, but with the Petcube Pet Camera, you can keep an eye on your dog during the procedure to ensure they are comfortable and safe.

The chances of recovery is highly dependent on early diagnosis, proper therapy, and constant monitoring. With all these in check, there is a high chance of quick recovery and possible resolving of high liver enzymes in dogs.


At what age do dogs experience Elevated Liver Enzymes?

Elevated liver enzymes in dogs can be experienced at any age though older dogs are at greater risk. But once the predisposing factors are present, elevated liver enzyme conditions could occur.

What are the signs of Elevated Liver Enzymes in dogs?

Signs such as jaundice, weight loss, Ascites, vomiting, and increased urination amongst others could be seen in cases of elevated liver enzymes in dogs.

Can Elevated Liver Enzymes in Dogs Resolve on their own?

Yes, they could resolve on their own if the underlying condition is temporary and not life threatening, especially those caused by a particular medication. Once the underlying cause is paused or stopped, it resolves on its own.

How long does it take for High Liver Enzymes in dogs to resolve?

Depending on the underlying cause, high liver enzyme levels can resolve within weeks or months. The better the therapy, the faster the recovery.

How long can a dog live with High Liver Enzymes?

The life expectancy of dogs with high liver enzymes depends on how early the signs were detected and taken care of.


Elevated liver enzymes in dogs don’t have to be a problem once it is detected on time and given the adequate medical attention. As a concerned dog owner, you should keep an eye on the health of your dog by taking precautions such as observing a regular visit to the Vet and making sure your dog is placed on the right healthy diet. With this, you would have your dog stay healthy and happy for a much longer time.

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