Pet owners tend to focus on ailments they can see. It’s easy to know when a cat or dog has a scratch, limp or wound. Unseen things like liver health deserve the same amount of attention, but they often go neglected until serious internal damage makes itself known.
In order to prevent major problems like liver disease, you’ll want to be proactive—not reactive. Use these natural tips to keep your pet’s liver in top shape.
Why pet owners should prioritize liver health
The liver is constantly working to rid your pet’s body of toxins. It needs the right balance of essential nutrients in order to function. The number of enzymes has to be exactly right, otherwise the chemicals that break down toxins can cause low-level inflammation. A liver that’s in poor shape causes a buildup of toxins that might leave your furry companion vulnerable to a slew of negative health effects.
It’s easy to forget about the liver because symptoms of toxin buildup set in over a long period of time and aren’t very noticeable. However, you shouldn’t neglect such an important organ, especially since older dogs and cats often experience a deterioration in liver health. Their internal organs become less efficient and need a little extra help to work like normal.
Natural tips for promoting a healthy liver
With a better understanding of the importance of liver health, it’s time to discover which natural remedies will best serve your pet. Below are some common options for helping your dog or cat protect their liver.
- Milk thistle: Livers are designed to destroy toxins, but they sustain some damage in the process. Your pet might have ingested something they weren’t supposed to, and now their liver is going to pay for it. The milk thistle plant contains silymarin, a powerful defense against toxins. Silymarin and milk thistle are available in the form of supplements that owners can mix in with dog or cat food. If you had to choose just one natural remedy, silymarin extract from milk thistle is a staple in good liver health.
- Sulforaphane: Liver enzymes alter the chemical structure of toxins so they’re easier to flush out of the body. Adding sulforaphane to your pet’s diet can help these enzymes function at their best and aid in the detoxification process. Sulforaphane is naturally found in vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and leafy greens. You can feed your pets these vegetables as a powder, dried or in their natural form.
- Curcumin: Inflammation is a normal part of the liver’s function. This occurs when enzymes break down toxins into a less harmful state. However, an imbalance between the number of enzymes and toxins can lead to excessive inflammation in the liver and throughout your pet’s body. Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric with anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin supplements have been approved to treat low-level inflammation in cats and dogs.
- B vitamins: Any type of vitamin B makes an excellent co-factor in your pet’s liver. Co-factors are substances that bind with toxins to make them less harmful. Enzymes break them down, then co-factors attach, so the toxins won’t poison your pet on their way out of the body. B vitamins also guard against low-level inflammation, which occurs when the liver has insufficient amounts of co-factors. Vitamin B supplements are available, but the co-factor works best in its natural form such as pork, turkey and fish.
- Liver: The best way to boost the co-factor levels in your pet’s liver is actually by feeding them another animal’s liver. Don’t get carried away with this—cats love the stuff and may become addicted! A mere half-inch of liver is packed with co-factors and mixes in nicely with your pet’s regular food. No matter the source, livers contain the B vitamins necessary to aid in the detoxification process.
- White potato: Sometimes, livers struggle to neutralize toxins because they’re too busy filtering out a bunch of other compounds from your pet’s diet. Leave room for toxins in the liver by giving your pet a partial fast. To do this, you can feed your pet half as much kibble as you normally would and give them an equal amount of white potato. Potatoes are a carbohydrate that’s easy to digest, which means very little of it has to get processed through the liver. However, make sure you clear this with your vet before you proceed!
The world is full of natural remedies that boost your pet’s liver health. Choosing the right one can easily overwhelm pet owners, so ask your veterinarian which supplements and methods are best for your cat or dog. A few vitamins and antioxidants can go a long way in giving your pet more energy to play and help them live a long, happy life.