Some of the more common problems that dogs can develop are those involving the liver.
This is especially true of older dogs.
Finding a way to help the dog to have a good quality of life can start with the food the dog eats.
While there is debate about whether or not dogs with liver problems should be switched entirely to a raw diet, adding sweet potatoes to the diet can be extremely beneficial.
The idea is to not just help the liver do its job better, but to prevent further damage.
What are the main causes of liver disease in dogs?
According to a veterinary website, there are ten top causes. Two out of the top three are infections. Bacterial is number two and viral infections are number three.
However, the leading cause is poor diet.
It is a good idea to run the brand(s) of dog food and dog treats you feed your pup by your vet or vet tech. Some brands are a lot better than others, and price is not always the distinguishing feature.
Dogs should have sixty five percent or more of animal protein in their diets.
They aren’t obligate carnivores, but they are carnivores. Neither dogs nor cats can live on a vegan diet. It will kill them. Choosing the right proteins and the right foods are important.
Apart from sweet potato, what other foods can help dogs with liver disease?
There are several, and most are plant based.
They can fit into the diet with the percentages noted above.
One of the top picks for this is brown rice. It can help the body in several ways.
The liver produces cholesterol, which is why humans have such a hard time with it.
It can do the same thing for dogs.
Something in the oils from brown rice helps to lower cholesterol production.
In a human study, it lowered the numbers by seven percent.
Believe it or not, boiled eggs are good for liver disease.
They do need to be in moderation, but they are animal protein and they contain choline.
This is a B vitamin that can be produced by the body, but it is difficult to get enough with a compromised liver.
White fish is often recommended for dogs with liver disease.
Unlike humans with the problem, they should avoid fish like salmon, but cod and haddock are both good.
It would be best to get wild caught fish over the farmed variety, as they are naturally fed.
Are there any foods that should never be fed to dogs with liver disease?
Yes, there are.
It might be interesting to note that one of them would be organ meat… including liver.
Some homemade dog foods for dogs with liver disease call for it, but it should be avoided.
Processed meats, such as bacon, are also on this list. In fact, really fatty foods are not good for the liver compromised dog.
Salt is another problem, and the fats and salt in bacon are particularly bad.
When looking for proteins for a dog, the problem is also the amount of ammonia produced when the protein is broken down.
White fish, chicken and some dairy may be more useful.
Red meats, especially those high in fat, should be avoided.
What is the best way of preparing sweet potatoes for dogs?
There are a lot of ways to prepare this tuber, but some methods destroy some of the nutritional value of it.
Many people may want to serve them raw, but that is not advisable.
Instead, they can be steamed or boiled lightly before mixing them into the dog’s food.
They can also be dehydrated and given to the dog as a treat.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven to do the job.
To dehydrate them, slice them thinly and spread them out on the rack.
If you are using your oven, you can turn it on to about one hundred to one hundred fifty degrees.
Leave the oven light on to also help with the dehydration.
Are sweet potatoes good for dogs with diarrhea?
Sweet potatoes have a great deal of fiber, making them helpful for dogs with diarrhea or other stool problems.
They can be part of a bland diet to help the dog recover.
Chicken is often recommended to go with it.
There are other suggested uses for sweet potatoes.
One of them is to use it on the dog’s coat.
The omega-3 fatty acids in the sweet potato can help create a glossy, shiny coat.
Getting it out of the coat may be a little more problematic…
It is also suggested that sweet potatoes can help the diabetic dog.
This will have to be coordinated with your vet, as natural remedies can interfere with medical remedies.
However, in humans, sweet potatoes are often used for this problem.
According to studies published on PubMed, the United States National Library of Medicine website, there are a couple of other benefits to your pooch when he or she eats sweet potatoes.
One is an anti-cancer property.
Along with a healthy diet, it could help prevent cancer.
The second is almost as important.
Sweet potatoes have an anti-inflammatory effect.
This helps in two ways.
Dogs with arthritis may find the pain eased naturally with the use of small amounts of sweet potato in the diet.
The other benefit of anti-inflammatory foods is that of reducing internal organ inflammation.
This sort of inflammation can lead to several nasty, life threatening illnesses. Cardiac problems, diabetes and other illnesses seem to be related to this.
What is a safe homemade diet for a dog with liver disease?
That depends on who you ask.
Some recipes call for chicken liver, which is on the list of things a dog with liver disease should not eat.
However, the general agreement is that the diet should contain several key ingredients.
One of them is always going to be protein.
Boiled eggs, particularly the yokes, are usually included in the recipes.
So is brown rice, though not the instant variety.
Sweet potatoes are usually included and must be cooked or dehydrated.
For protein, white fish, chicken or turkey is usually recommended.
Some recipes call for lightly cooked ground beef.
That is another thing to discuss with your vet, as red meat can create more ammonia than chicken or white fish. The dog won’t mind; most dogs love burger.
Can dogs with liver problems eat sweet potatoes?
This is something that every pet owner needs to decide with information and input from the veterinarian.
Sweet potatoes have a lot to offer, both in terms of nutrition and in helping the dog’s body to cope.
Not all vets agree with this approach.
Some of them may be concerned that the sweet potatoes will be served raw which would not be a good idea.
Raw sweet potatoes and raw potatoes can cause some serious gastric problems for dogs.
The amount and type of protein to serve the dog may be decided by the specific type of liver problem involved and how advanced it is.
Mild liver problems may not require quite so much care to avoid red meat, where advanced liver problems will probably require it to be strictly avoided.
Because dogs are carnivores, keeping animal protein out of the dog’s diet is not going to be an option. Fortunately, they are not obligate carnivores and can handle some grains, fruits and vegetables.
The percentage is usually going to be less than thirty five percent.
Dogs with liver problems should avoid two particular types of animal protein, no matter how severe.
They should not eat any organ meats from other animals.
This includes chicken livers as some recipes online suggest.
The other is processed meat. This doesn’t refer to canned dog food but more to things like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and the like.
The processing adds chemicals that the liver then has to clear out, making it work harder at a time when it needs to recuperate.
The USFDA requires that any article that covers a use for a food or herb that isn’t as just food have this disclaimer.
Unless it has been approved by them, they prefer that you use this article for your information and to help you make the proper decisions.
Medical claims, even those posted on PubMed, don’t count in their view of things.
That doesn’t stop things like sweet potatoes from helping.
When choosing a diet for your dog, always check with the vet.
There are good brands of dog food and ones that can cause problems.
There are good homemade diets and ones that can be harmful to your dog. Your vet and/or vet tech can guide you.
¹ Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr