Jaundice in Dogs | Petlebi

Dog Health

Jaundice is expressed as excessive formation of yellow pigment in the blood and tissues. Long-term presence of jaundice can lead to almost permanent yellowing of tissues. This includes the skin. In dogs with jaundice, yellowing occurs especially in the gums, eyes and auricles. Jaundice can be more difficult to notice in dogs with dark skin and gums.

sluggish dog lying on the ground

Causes of Jaundice in Dogs

There are three main causes of jaundice in dogs. The first of these is the destruction of red blood cells. This ailment is called blood thinning or hemolysis. It is considered as intravascular hemolysis when it occurs within the blood vessels, and as extravascular hemolysis when it occurs in the spleen or liver. Hemolysis leads to a type of anemia called hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia is a different type of anemia than anemia associated with bleeding from an injury.

Another cause of jaundice is liver disease. All diseases or health problems that damage or break down liver cells cause jaundice.

Finally, obstruction of the bile duct is one of the causes of jaundice in dogs. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and transferred to the small intestine through the bile duct. Jaundice occurs as a result of the bile being thicker than normal, the formation of gallstones in the gallbladder, the inflammation of the gallbladder or bile duct, or the swelling of the liver and blockage of the bile duct.

dog being examined

How Is Jaundice in Dogs Diagnosed?

Jaundice can be diagnosed very easily with a physical examination. In some cases, it may be necessary to take a blood sample from the dog. In such cases, it is possible to diagnose jaundice in the dog before it has a noticeable effect. A yellowish color in the blood sample is usually an indication of impending health problems. In such cases, a full examination may be required.

The diagnosis of jaundice can be made easily, but the diagnosis of the underlying cause of jaundice may not be so easy. First of all, three reasons that cause jaundice, which we mentioned above, are examined. Various screening tests are needed to narrow the list of possible diseases.

How Is Jaundice From Hemolysis Diagnosed?

A complete blood count is required to control hemolysis. In a complete blood count, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet cells are counted. Ingestion of poisonous plants, various drugs, parasites in red blood cells, heartworm disease, cancer and some autoimmune diseases can cause hemolysis. Additional tests can be applied to diagnose diseases that cause hemolysis.

How Is Liver Jaundice Diagnosed?

A biochemistry profile of 10 – 30 tests is applied to the blood sample taken from the dog with jaundice. The biochemistry profile includes several tests specific to liver disease and for the source of some liver disease. The main ones are alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase and total bilirubin. In some cases, bile acid analysis is also required to evaluate liver function.

How is jaundice due to bile duct obstruction diagnosed?

Jaundice is seen at an advanced level in dogs with blocked bile ducts. The whites of the eye, gums, and skin turn severely yellow. For this reason, in cases where jaundice occurs rapidly and is very extreme, the bile duct is directly examined. In addition, imaging methods such as x-ray or ultrasound of bile duct obstruction are also used.

saline-laced dog undergoing treatment

How to Treat Jaundice in Dogs

Jaundice is not a disease, it is a symptom of a disease. For this reason, when the health problem that causes jaundice is treated, jaundice also disappears on its own. The healing process completely depends on the cause of jaundice. Some diseases that can cause jaundice can be seriously life-threatening. However, most of them are easily treatable.

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