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Why it is important to detox your pet's liver at least once a year

Updated: Mar 1

The liver is the largest internal organ and one of the most important ones in the body, yet we don't tend to properly take care of our own, let alone our pets', until signs of damage have already appeared. When the liver is breaking down, all bodily functions and organs are affected due to its critical role in the body.

Do you know that the liver performs over 500 vital functions in the body?

A healthy liver is responsible for:

  • Digestion

  • Detoxification

  • Sugar storage

  • Hormone production

  • Breaking down red blood cells

  • Clotting of blood

  • Breaks down and filters toxins out of the body

  • And many more!

Although the liver has the capacity to regenerate to a certain extent when damaged, our pet's environment is loaded with toxins which puts the liver under a lot of stress:

  • Heartworm medications

  • Dewormers

  • Flea and tick meds

  • Vaccines

  • Drugs

  • Chemical cleaners

  • Flame retardants on furniture and carpets

  • Pesticides and herbicides

  • Processed foods

  • Food additives

  • Mycotoxins from grain and peanut products

  • Electromagnetic field such as Wi-fi 

  • Pollution

  • Heavy metals

  • Fluoride in water

  • Tattoo or microchip

  • Viruses

  • Autoimmune disease

So in addition to clearing by-products from normal metabolism, your pet's liver works extra hard to get rid of all these toxins, including some that are said to maintain your dog or cat in good health. With time, the liver can no longer keep up and toxins start to accumulate in the body.

The early stages of liver disease are usually asymptomatic but as your pet is aging, and depending on the level of toxicity of their environment, some symptoms may appear:

  • Digestive disorders (constipation, diarrhea, gas or bloating)

  • Dry, brittle or infected nails

  • Dull eyes

  • Eye discharge or a pinkish or yellowish eye

  • Jaundice

  • Corneal or retinal disorders

  • Sinus issues

  • Dark urine

  • Poor appetite

  • Fatigue

  • Ligament and tendon issues

  • Irritability or aggression

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the liver is known as the The Official of Planning and is mainly responsible for the equitable distribution of all resources throughout the body through the blood. The liver, in conjunction with the gall bladder, is part of the Wood element, which is associated with spring. Therefore, from a TCM standpoint, the best time to detox the liver is in the spring.

TCM is more of a preventative medicine as opposed to conventional medicine that I would describe as reactive (however, conventional medicine is by far more adequate and essential in an emergency situation). TMC uses the body's own capacity to heal and is a great support in a liver cleansing process. For young dogs and cats who don't exhibit any liver stress symptoms,  I recommend doing one to three acupressure sessions starting early March. For my dog, I also include intermittent fasting (I make her fast for 24 hours twice a week over a period of 3 weeks in April which is the middle of spring in the Chinese calendar. Fasting is not recommended during the transition between seasons as the body is not in a balanced state). I usually fast with her: it is a lot easier when you have a buddy to share the experience with! Fasting is very beneficial as it gives a rest to the entire digestive system and allows to enhance the natural detox process performed by the liver. It is safe for healthy dogs, however, it may be a bit more challenging for cats as they might develop a condition called 'fatty liver'. Therefore do not recommend fasting for our feline friends. Before considering this option for your pet, talk to your holistic vet.

If your pet is middle-aged and beyond and/or is exhibiting signs such as prolonged lowered appetite, lethargy or increased drinking and urinating, you should go to your veterinarian first to confirm if it is liver related and if so, what type of liver disease your pet has. Liver disease is diagnosed with a physical exam along with a blood test to check liver enzymes, protein levels and red blood cell count.

The signs described above can be temporary and more noticeable in early spring and may be a warning that the liver is stressed.  If ever in doubt, always go to your vet first. A series of acupressure sessions may be particularly helpful in this instance and offer a great support to anything your vet may advise (specific diet, homeopathy, herbs, supplements) or prescribe to your pet.

If acupressure or acupuncture sessions are not an option, I recommend homeopathy. Another option is energy work, which works just as well.

In any case, your pet's diet plays a big part in their liver's overall health. Many conventional processed foods contain harmful ingredients and by-products such as mycotoxins, preservatives, including some that are not even allowed for human consumption, synthetic vitamins and minerals. Feeding a whole food species appropriate diet and filtered water is essential when it comes to your pet's health.

Acupressure, homeopathy and energy work are gentle, safe and non invasive way to support your pet's liver function in the detoxifying process.

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