Bile Acid Tests for Your Dog

One way that you can use to examine a dog’s liver is the bile acid test. The other method is through static enzyme level reading. If you want to get the degree of inflammation, you use the static enzyme level reading. The bile acid test measures the functionality of the liver.

We all know the function of the liver is to recycle bile acids while an inflamed one will not. Another way of describing the functionality of the liver is counting the number of cells available for the recycling and look at the general liver blood supply.

What is a Bile Acid and What Does it Do?

Bile acid is a compound made in the liver and stored in the gall bladder. The presence of bile makes digestion of food (especially fats) easier. The moment the dog eats, the gall bladder receives signals that trigger the production of bile acids into the small intestine. This aids in the breaking down on large complex fats into small soluble fats that the body can absorb.

What is The Purpose of Bile Acid Tests?

A bile acid test useful for dogs because it helps determine if the liver is functional by analyzing these three questions:

  • Does the liver have enough healthy cells?
  • Does the liver have a good blood supply?
  • What is the rate of bile movement in and out of the liver?
  • The bile acid test dog is based on the principle that a healthy liver can recycle bile while an unhealthy one will not.

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How Bile Recycling Takes Place

The moment the bile acids are released to the intestines, they will remain there until all the food has been digested. After the digestion process, bile is reabsorbed into the blood stream and back into the liver. Once in the liver, the liver cells retrieve bile acids from the blood stream and return them to the gall bladder waiting for the next meal.

At What Point Should the Bile Acid Test Appropriate for Dogs?

At any given point, you discover that your dog is showing any signs of liver damage. Use the symptoms below to diagnose your dog:

  • Dogs with high levels of liver enzymes in their blood indicate a liver with a few healthy cells to do its job effectively
  • Low levels of albumin (a type of protein produced in the liver) low levels indicate few healthy cells are present in the liver
  • Any sign that a dog is emaciated or has congenital disabilities that may hinder proper functioning of the liver.
  • A dog suffering from convulsions or fits due to poor blood supply that prevents the liver from proper functioning

What Kind of Preparation do You Need?

Before the testing takes place, make sure the dog has been fasting for 12 hours. This fact is essential, and there is no other way around it. The fasting should include treats and chew toys. The 12-hour fasting period is enough for the liver to collect all remaining bile acids in the blood stream. The implication here is that there should be no bile acids in the bloodstream, traces of bile is an exception.

How to Perform the Bile Acid Test Dog?

The initial stages of the test start by collecting blood samples, which in veterinarian terms is referred to as the resting sample or pre-prandial sample. The obtained sample establishes a starting point or a baseline.

Offer a tasty meal to the pet and as expected after it will finish the meal and in exactly 2 hours after eating take another sample called the postprandial. Both of these two samples will be tested for bile acid levels.

Precautions before Testing

The bile acid test dog is simple and straightforward; however, to get accurate results the preparation of the dog must be precise. Likely errors such as failing to fast the dog for 12 hours, giving a huge meal after the initial blood sample, feeding dry pellets instead of canned food, and collecting blood samples at the wrong time may interfere with test outcome.

Under What Conditions Should We Not Perform the Bile Acid Test?

The perfect condition for bile acid test to be performed is when the stomach and bowels are working okay. Therefore, the bile acid test may not give accurate results on the following pets:

  • Pets that are vomiting, constipating, and diarrhea: the three conditions may alter the rate of bile production
  • Pets that have undergone previous surgery to remove a section of their small intestine: such dogs interfere with re-absorption of bile in the into the intestines
  • Sedated pets or those recovering from anesthesia: stomach and bowel functions may not be optimal due to the effects of drugs.
  • As a matter of precaution, the bile acid test should not take place if the said pet is receiving bile acids as part of therapy for liver disease.

How to Interpret the Test Results?

A liver that is capable of doing its job should have low levels of bile acids on the resting blood sample and indicate high levels in the postprandial sample. These outcomes suggest that the bile acids from the gall bladder were adequately utilized during the 2-hour waiting after the meal. Therefore, the conclusion indicates a dog with a healthy liver with enough blood supply to do its job.

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Does a Normal Liver Test Indicate a Healthy Animal?

In some cases, the bile acid test dog may be healthy even when there is a problem in the liver. This scenario is likely when the problem is mild and only affects a small part of the liver. When the gall bladder fails to contract fully, it will increase liver enzymes in the blood, which may not indicate a liver problem in its entirety.

What to Do When Bile Acid Test is Abnormal?

If a standard test indicates a problem with the liver, we may still need to know the direct cause of the problem. Depending on how sick the pet seems to be or severity of test results, consult a veterinarian who may recommend further analysis or even suggest additional monitoring such as liver biopsy or an ultra sound.

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