Feeding a Dog for a Healthy Liver
One of the workhorse organs in the body, and one that normally doesn’t get much thought unless there is a problem with it, is the liver. A well balanced diet can ensure that the liver is functioning properly. There are specific food ingredients that are particularly supportive of proper liver function and including these in a dog’s diet can help to keep this vital organ healthy.
Role of the Liver
The liver performs many tasks in the body including:
- Detoxification and elimination of toxins and impurities
- Catabolism (i.e. breakdown) and regulation of carbohydrate stores
- Bile formation, which is used in the digestive process to break down fats into usable fatty acids
Degradation in any of these functions can cause problems with a dog’s overall health. Luckily, there are several foods and herbs that contain nutrients that the liver needs to function properly. Some of these are commonly found in dog food recipes or can be added to the dog’s meal if need be.
Foods that Support the Liver
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and dandelion greens contain choline, which is crucial in keeping the liver healthy. Insufficient choline can impede the liver’s ability to process fats and the resulting buildup of fat can hinder the metabolism and lead to kidney disorders and other ailments. Leafy greens that are rich in chlorophyll, have the ability to assist in the detoxification of metals, plastics and chemicals present in the body and bloodstream, thus providing a huge assist to the liver.
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts can increase the amount of glucosinolate (organic compounds) which helps enzyme production for digestion and can help the liver flush away carcinogens.
Citrus fruits are full of the antioxidant vitamin C, but they also contain limonene, which is responsible for the fruits’ pleasant scent. Besides smelling great, limonene helps prevent build-up of fat that results in a fatty liver while also preventing insulin resistance (related to diabetes).
Tumeric and its active ingredient curcumin, aids in the digestion of fats and stimulates the production of bile. It is also thought to improve the liver’s detoxification abilities.
Carrots may help to protect the liver from the toxic effects of environmental chemicals. They make great snacks as well.
The pectin in apples helps to eliminate chemicals and heavy metals (e.g. mercury) from the body, thus taking some of the load off the liver itself. Like carrots, apples are a great snack choice.
Olive oil has been shown to reduce the oxidative stress (from free radicals in the body) on the liver. Although rare in dog food, sprinkle some in the dog’s bowl for added flavor and to keep your dog’s liver healthy.
Check to see how many of these ingredients are in your dog’s food. Add them to their regular meals, or use them as treats when possible.
We're joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol's Notes: