Worldwide medical and scientific journal for animal health professionals

Issue number 29.3 Hepatology

How I approach... The dog with altered hepatic enzymes

Published 30/01/2020

Written by Jordi Puig

Also available in Français , Deutsch , Italiano and Español

Elevated liver enzymes on routine biochemistry screens are a daily occurrence in small animal practice; Jordi Puig discusses how he decides if such findings are significant or not.

How I approach... The dog with altered hepatic enzymes

Key Points

Liver enzyme levels do not indicate hepatic functionality; this requires evaluating parameters which reflect the liver’s capacity for synthesis and/or excretion of compounds, such as bile acids.


A single measurement does not provide enough information in most cases, and serial monitoring is much more helpful.


The biochemical changes found in patients with a secondary hepatopathy are usually caused by a non-specific reactive hepatitis.


Where there is advanced liver disease, such as cirrhosis, any increase in hepatic enzymes may be slight.


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