Fatty Liver Syndrome
When a condition is labeled a syndrome there are multiple causes and we usually do not know why it happened in one kitten or puppy and not in another. That does not mean we do not know how to prevent it from happening!
Fatty liver syndrome is not a diagnosis and there is a primary cause of the disease! Fatty liver syndrome is strongly related to anorexia, often occurring after a stressful event or illness. Anything that causes a lean puppy to go off food can cause mobilization of fat and the accumulation of fat inside the liver cells. Once the body mobilizes fat faster than the liver can process, the liver becomes stuffed with fat and can’t function. Fatty liver syndrome results.
Hypoglycemia is very common in small toy breeds and lean muscle breeds where the liver is small and muscle stores are limited. Yorkies and Maltese are over represented with fatty liver syndrome but all lean small breeds can develop fatty liver syndrome if they go off feed. Undersized kittens of any cat breed are at risk of fatty liver syndrome.
Clinical signs and diagnosis
Puppies and kittens are lethargic and slow to respond. As it progresses they may vomit, have mental dullness and drink lots of water. These babies are often weak and anemic.
Diagnosis is done on liver biopsy or post mortem neither is a good option. If your babies are off food it's worth your time preventing fatty liver syndrome as a precaution.
No specific treatment for fatty liver but we can save them if we get the nutrition right!
- There is a cause and if known, treating or removing that cause is important to success.
- Fatty liver babies usually drink lots of water when recovering. Give them "Puppy Gatorade" instead of water to correct their electrolyte balance and give them a small amount of energy. Works great in kittens as well! To make "Puppy Gatorade" add one 2.26 oz. packet (both sides) of RE-SORB® to one gallon of water.
- Modify nutrition to a high energy, protein rich diet. That will prevent fasting hypoglycemia and resulting lipidosis. Tube feeding is helpful but begin with smaller amounts of high digestible food. All meat baby food goes through an oral syringe and is easy to feed.
- Often my first feeding is 1 cc of "Puppy Gatorade" per pound (i.e. if the pet weighs 2 pounds then the dose is 2 cc of "Puppy Gatorade").
- Feed no more than 1 cc of "Puppy Gatorade" per pound every hour at first, then double the dose after six feedings and feed every four hours working them into eating again.
- By day three we want to get them eating – most are ready! By now they are usually developing an appetite and if they won’t eat baby food, try cat food. Try canned first, then move to kitten dry food between feedings. High fat, high protein in your puppy or kitten is key to recovery.
- 50 mg of L-Carnitine supplement twice daily is helpful in cats and used in dogs as well. Some question as to help or just diet change but we should do both.
The key to raising babies is to get them eating and keep them eating! Using high calorie high protein diets like kitten food anytime they back off food is helpful. Supplementing L-Carnitine to tiny babies daily can help with fat metabolism.
Fatty liver syndrome kills puppies and kittens that are off food for any reason. Correcting the cause and getting and keeping them on high calorie high protein food is the cure!
If you need help call us at 1-800-786-4751
- Dr. B
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.
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