Senior EM lab values

Discussion in 'Health & Nutritional Care' started by Brinks, May 22, 2019.

  1. Brinks

    Brinks Member

    Hello everyone. It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted (couldn’t get the password reset right, got distracted and forgot to come back to it). Anyway, this forum has been our go-to for our EM, Brinks, since day 1. Everyone here has always been SO helpful that this was the first place I thought of when we got recent news.
    Brinks went in for his annual checkup (he is now 7.5 years old) and had some labs drawn in February. The vet contacted us a few days later to let us know his liver enzymes were elevated but that they weren’t concerned, so to redraw them in 3 months. Well, it’s 3 months later, labs drawn and liver enzymes are slightly higher than February and now RBC and lymphocytes are low too. Brinks is completely asymptomatic (meaning he hasn’t shown ANY signs of illness). His weight is stable, appetite and thirst normal, exercise has of course slowed with age but otherwise he seems good!
    The vet wants to do an abdominal ultrasound, additional liver panels and start him on Denamarin (liver protectant?). She also said if we wanted to wait another 12 weeks and get a redraw of labs, we could go that route too.
    Has anyone gone through anything like this with their senior Mastiff? Any advice?
  2. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    Hi Brinks. I'm sorry I can't really help. I've never had this issue with any of my dogs. I think that if I had to decide what to do I would probably do the abdominal ultrasound and additional liver panels now. I'd maybe wait for the results of those before deciding about the medication. Please let us know what you decide and how Brinks is doing.
  3. DennasMom

    DennasMom Well-Known Member

    I haven't been through this either, but our Denna is a few months past her 7yr birthday now... she hasn't slowed down much - although her bum knee has had her on reduced activity for a few years now. We're actually increasing her exercise these days, as her knee is doing better, and she's loving doing more.

    If you want to wait and test for numbers again, I'd start giving milk thistle (it's an herb that supports liver function) - test one 1/2 dose first, to make sure there are no sensitivities - and then up to a full dose.

    More info on Milk Thistle here:

    And note: "While moderate use of milk thistle is very safe, there is some experimental evidence to suggest that long-term ingestion of very high dosages of milk thistle will eventually suppress liver function."

    One other question - is Brinks raw-fed? Many raw-fed dogs have lab numbers that are "abnormal" for kibble-fed dogs, but are nothing to be concerned about. I can't recall which numbers it is that skew high... if he is raw-fed, you might google for some more info specific to raw-fed dogs.

    Definitely keep us posted!
  4. DennasMom

    DennasMom Well-Known Member

    Looking up the Denamarin...

    "Silymarin is the active ingredient in milk thistle and Denamarin. Denamarin also constants s-adenosylmethionine which is important for liver health and aging. Denamarin has very little side effects and can be more effective than using milk thistle by itself without s-adenosylmethionine."

    So... I'd start on milk thistle and see if the natural low-dose version is "good enough"... if not, then you can upgrade to the pharmaceutical grade stuff.
    Boxergirl likes this.
  5. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    Milk thistle is a really good option here, I think. I would check with the vet first and I would go armed with the information that Denna's Mom supplied above. Some vets really don't like to go with herbal supplements and you may need to do some convincing. If you do choose to use milk thistle, I would suggest making sure to do fairly frequent blood work to monitor liver values.
  6. Brinks

    Brinks Member

    We decided to go ahead with the ultrasound but it took a few weeks to get him scheduled since there seems to be a shortage on docs in the area who perform and read/interpret the images (and of course they only see patients 2 days a week). Anyway, they confirmed that Brinks has chronic inflammation of the liver but without a biopsy and exploratory surgery it’s hard to say “why”. His other organs looked normal (some wall thickening of the intestinal wall likely due to his allergies).
    We decided that it doesn’t feel right for us (and for Brinks) to go the invasive route yet since he’s asymptotic. They mentioned trying a course of antibiotics but with his sensitive GI Tract we can’t start that at the same time as the liver supplement. They actually mentioned trying Milk Thistle first (Thank you @DennasMom for mentioning it!) due to the cost of Denamarin so we want to get those started to see if he tolerates those well then redraw labs and then try the antibiotics.

    He is kibble fed. We tried literally every limited ingredient kibble on the market when he was a pup but they all resulted in diarrhea and vomiting EXCEPT for Kirkland Salmon and Sweet Potato. He has had solid stool and maintained a healthy weight ever since so we stuck with it. The only other treats he tolerates are green beans, carrots and pumpkin...oh and the occasional blueberry. I often joke that he is the first (nearly) vegetarian dog I’ve ever owned
  7. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    Ask your vet about adding Acetyl Cysteine and Vitamin E to the Milk Thistle. My daughter's dog is being treated for xylitol ingestion and the protective measures taken were to put him on Denamarin, Acetyl Cysteine, and Vitamin E to protect his liver. Maybe it couldn't hurt? Please keep us updated.

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