When I agreed to foster a dog who was only 6 years old and was dying of liver disease, it was a hard to decision to make. I had never fostered a dog that was dying and in my heart I knew it was going to be very hard to deal with emotionally because it was going to break my heart. Thankfully after daily vet visits, a few blood tests and the standard biopsy, it didn’t turn out to be cancer and was inconclusive. The Vet didn’t know what was causing his liver values to escalate almost 1000% times more than normal values. Thankfully, the group that I foster for, Paws for Seniors, trusted my decisions moving forward.
I didn’t know a dog that didn’t want to eat raw food, which is what i feed my pack. But for some reason, in the first two weeks, Cooper, my foster dog, couldn’t eat raw. So I cooked him homemade meals. I bought whole, organic chicken from Costco and boiled it down. I put a cup of turmeric, a cup of ginger and two cans of organic pumpkin. Please make sure you use a big pot when you follow this recipe.
This recipe will last a 10 lbs dog more than two weeks. Its important to feed your dog frequent small meals so initially, for the first 4 days, I would feed Cooper atleast 5 times per day. Small portions (like 3 tablespoons full). After 5 days, feeding was decreased to 3 times per day (morning, noon and night). I also started him on VetriScience Liver Supplement on that first week.
List of Ingredients
- Organic Chicken, boiled whole for 4 hours — main food to feed them until they start eating (2 weeks)
- Fresh Ginger — add to chicken when cooking, 1 cup for 1 whole chicken
- Fresh Tumeric — add to chicken when cooking, 1 cup for 1 whole chicken
- Organic Pumpkin — add to chicken when cooking, 2 cans for a whole chicken
Boil the ingredients in a large pot for about 4 hours until the meat is falling off the chicken bone. Turn off and then let it cool. Carefully remove all the bones from the chicken and store properly. Since this food lasts for over 2 weeks for a small dog, I had to freeze about half of the chicken food and simply thawed the containers before feeding.
Complete list of Food and Ingredients
- Quality Raw dog food — main food to feed when they have started to show interest
- Dandelion leaves — supplement given daily (chop leaves finely and feed with raw food)
- Milk Thistle — supplement given daily (follow directions on label)
- Cold-pressed Virgin Coconut Oil — give daily
- Apple Cider Vinegar — give daily
- Garlic tablets — give daily
- Organic Kelp — give daily
- VetriScience Liver Supplement — give daily
- Probiotic — give daily
- Digestive Enzyme — give daily
- Wild Salmon Oil — give daily
- Vitamin E — supplement every 2 weeks
- Dark leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, alfalfa — feed daily, chop into very fine leaves and feed with raw food
The list provides complete dog food and supplements for liver health! All food and supplements mentioned above provide the values to give to your dog depending on their weight. Please read the recommended daily allowance when feeding / supplementing.
Liver Values before and after this diet
Before I changed Cooper’s diet, his liver values was through the roof. Here is a screenshot of this liver values. Note his AST, ALT and Alk Phosphatase values are all in the red and exceeded normal values.
This blood test was done on Feb 29, 2016 and on June of the same year, we took his blood test again and here are the results. You can see for yourself that his liver had healed on its own. No pharmaceutical medication was prescribed and this was achieved through a healthy diet and supplements that helped heal his liver.
On the values above you can also note that his Kidney levels were high, his BUN/Creatinine Ratio was high but it decreased values from 90 to 60 after 4 months on a pure meat diet. Its interesting to note this because Vets will tell you not to feed too much protein to your dogs with high kidney values. What Vets misunderstand is that commercial dry dog food is made of mostly plant protein because its cheaper. Thats how the pass the AAFCO requirements for protein in dog food. The AAFCO also doesn’t verify what kind of protein is in dog food. Plant protein is hard to digest for dogs because they lack the enzymes to digest plants. Real meat protein is not hard to digest and helps them build muscle mass. Plus an important piece of information here is that dogs naturally eat meat so how can their natural, specie appropriate diet be bad for them? Its not. Whats bad for them is the cheap protein made from plants that commercial food manufacturers choose to use because its means more profit for them. To me, the most ironic discovery throughout this journey is this: Commercial Pet Food Manufacturers make food not for the health and well being of your dogs, they do it because its a very profitable business.
If your dog is on a raw diet and has elevated kidney values, Vets will naturally try to restrict the high protein diet. But, that shouldn’t be the case because dogs need protein to build muscle. The reason they try to restrict it is because of the high phosphorus levels that produce nitrogen. Nitrogen will exacerbate the liver and kidneys. Holistic Vet, Dr. Don Hamilton states that reducing protein may actually reduce the effectivity of the kidney because reducing protein in turn reduces the filtering properties of the kidneys and leads to higher toxicity levels because the kidneys are not doing their intended jobs properly. Read more here.
To remove the phosphorus from a raw diet, feed the dog with dark green veggies (spinach, kale, dandelion leaves, alfalfa) that are high in calcium so that the phosphorus binds to it and goes out in the poop instead of through the kidneys. This will keep the BUN levels down. Don’t forget to add prebiotics and probiotics to help remove the phosphorus via the poop instead of the bloodstream.
Daily Exercise for Liver Health
Aside from all the healthy food and supplements please make sure they get daily exercise. I noticed with Cooper that whenever I missed a day, he would seem weaker so I started walking him daily. At least a mile. He is a small dog and only weighs 10 lbs so exercise will depend on their size and weight. Please also remember to build up to it. Week 1 should include 10 to 15 mins of walking, Week 2 should be 20 – 30 mins, Week 3 should be 30 mins and so on until the dog builds their strength. Please do not tire them out and know what their limits are. Please also have fresh, clean water always available.
Remove all Toxins
Aside from drastically changing your pets diet, it is best to remove all household toxins that could exacerbate his liver values. These are household toxins include removing all cleaning agents you use in your house, all pesticides you use in your yard, anything you use to bathe your dogs should be natural and most importantly: stop using anti-flea and tick medication. That will kill his liver values even more. Use natural ways to remove ticks and fleas instead.
In our home, we use white vinegar as our cleaning agent on floors and everything else. We do not use anything harsh. When you use a toxic floor cleaner, the dogs walk on it and lick their paws and that poison gets into their bloodstream and their bodies need to filter it out using kidneys or liver further deteriorating the health of their organs.
For monthly flea and tick, suggest to use an all natural flea and tick repellent.
Instructions for Bathing
Even dog shampoo has toxic chemicals on it but the one that we use is Dr. Bronners Castille Soap which is pure soap and non-toxic. After bathing, we spray diluted, raw apple cider vinegar (diluted in 50% filtered water) to help with any itching, ticks or fleas. When the dog has dried up a little more we lather with a thin coats of Virgin Coconut Oil to help with moisturizing.
Healing Food for Liver Disease
After 2 weeks, Cooper started getting interested in raw food, which is what my dogs ate. I started giving him a spoonful of raw food daily with increasing quantities and within 7 days, he had already converted completed to raw. He was on raw food for the rest of his stay with me (3.5 months). K9-Kraving is the Raw Food that we use for our pack.
Again, big thanks for our Rescue group, Paws for Seniors, without their support and belief in me, healing Cooper naturally would not have been possible. They also found a wonderful forever home for Cooper and here is now, all healthy and loving as ever.
My name is Fevi Yu, I’m not a Vet. I am an SEO professional and my job requires me to do a lot of research and prove theories using trial and error methods. With that in mind, please note that this article should not replace the guidance of a Holistic Veterinarian. In the process of healing Cooper, I’ve also signed up to take a course in Animal Nutrition and Health. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me using our contact form. I am always happy to share my experience as a foster parent and as a lover of animals.
All the supplements you find on this page has been tried, tested and used by me and Cooper. We can personally attest that it helped him heal his liver and keep him healthy.
FYI Regarding: Amazon.com, we earn a very small commission whenever you purchase anything from them using our links. You pay the same price with or without our affiliate links. Please support us so we can continue to write these articles that will help educate our readers about pet health and healing food! Some links do not go to Amazon and instead go directly to food manufacturers, in those instances, we do not have an affiliate program set up with them but we still believe in the quality of their food / product. We will support pet food businesses that have quality products regardless of whether or not they are part of the Amazon.com affiliate network.
References: Most of my online research were from the following sources. Without these online resources, Cooper would not be alive today so big thank you to the following: