Liver enzymes in horses can become elevated for a variety of reasons, ranging from mild to serious. Elevated liver enzymes can indicate a number of health problems and can cause a range of symptoms, such as weight loss, poor appetite, and jaundice. It is important to diagnose the cause of the elevated liver enzymes and treat the underlying cause to ensure the horse’s health. This article will discuss how to treat elevated liver enzymes in horses.
Diagnosing the Cause of Elevated Liver Enzymes
The first step in treating elevated liver enzymes in horses is to determine what is causing the elevation. Generally, the causes can be divided into two categories: primary liver disease and secondary liver disease. Primary liver disease is caused by a direct problem with the liver, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or cancer. Secondary liver disease is caused by an underlying problem, such as medications, toxins, or infections.
In order to diagnose the cause of elevated liver enzymes, a veterinarian will usually perform a physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging tests. The physical examination may reveal signs of liver disease, such as abdominal pain, jaundice, and enlarged lymph nodes. Laboratory tests may include a complete blood count, serum chemistry panel, and urinalysis. Imaging tests may include an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. Once the cause of the elevated liver enzymes is determined, a treatment plan can be developed.
Treating Primary Liver Disease
The treatment of primary liver disease will depend on the specific condition. For example, treatment of hepatitis may involve medications to reduce inflammation and antibiotics to treat the infection. Treatment of cirrhosis may include medications to reduce inflammation and medications to prevent further damage to the liver. Treatment of cancer may involve surgery to remove the tumor or chemotherapy to destroy the cancer cells.
Treating Secondary Liver Disease
If the cause of the elevated liver enzymes is secondary to another problem, it is important to treat the underlying cause. For example, if the cause is medications, the medication may need to be discontinued or changed. If the cause is toxins, the source of the toxins must be identified and eliminated. If the cause is infection, antibiotics may be necessary to treat the infection.
In addition to treating the underlying cause of the elevated liver enzymes, supportive care may also be needed. The horse may need to be fed a special diet to support liver health and improve nutrition. Supplements such as milk thistle and SAMe may also be recommended to help protect the liver. The horse may also need medications to reduce inflammation and protect the liver.
It is important to monitor the horse’s condition and have regular follow-up visits with the veterinarian. Regular blood tests may be necessary to monitor the liver enzymes and ensure that the treatment is working.
Elevated liver enzymes in horses can be caused by a variety of conditions, ranging from mild to serious. In order to properly treat the condition, it is important to diagnose the underlying cause of the elevation. Once the cause is determined, treatment can be tailored to the specific condition. In addition to treating the underlying cause, supportive care may also be necessary. It is important to monitor the horse’s condition and have regular follow-up visits with the veterinarian.