We often hear about people having gallbladder problems but don’t ever think about our dogs experiencing this problem. If they did, how would they relate that to us how they are feeling? In fact, many people who have gallbladder problems or stones don’t even know as it may feel just a little more than a stomach ache.
Digestive disorders in dogs are probably the most common of all dog’s health problems. More than likely it is because of the things they manage to put into their mouths. Gallbladder problems are not that common. But it can happen and it is well worth looking into as a precautionary measure should that ever happen. Most of a dog’s digestive disorders are caused either directly or indirectly with the liver, pancreas or organs of the digestive tract. This plays an important part in the processing of the food your dog eats. But sometimes the problem can be centered in the gallbladder.
The dogs’ gallbladder is a small tough skinned sac-like structure in the abdominal cavity, attached to the liver and the pancreas. It is rather small and pear shaped (the size of a golf ball) in a German shepherd. What it does is store bile, an acid, an alkaline fluid containing water, electrolytes, various acids and a yellowish pigment called bilirubin. These liquids then are secreted as needed through the liver and discharged into the small intestine to help with the digestion and absorption of fats. A dog produces bile throughout the day.
A most common gallbladder problem can be an obstructive one caused by a swollen pancreas as a result of a pancreatic tumor or scar tissue. The bile cannot get out so the gallbladder gets backed up and can get into the dog’s blood stream. Another problem can be gallstones which dogs can get, just as humans do, though they are clay like in texture and can cause the gallbladder to burst if left untreated. The final obstruction is caused by a buildup of thick bile and mucus called a biliary mucocele. This gallbladder disease if not treated, provides a great breeding ground for a bacterial infection; inflammation and swelling, which in turn may cause the gallbladder to burst.
An educated pet owner is the best kind of caregiver as the symptoms for gallbladder problems are very similar to many other conditions, such as vomiting, poor appetite, lethargy, pale colored stools, weakness, poor coat condition, and a tell tale sign of jaundice of which the eyes and gums seem to have a yellowish tinge to them.
Gallbladder problems in your dog can be treated with antibiotics for the non-obstructive problems. There are some other medications that can be used to stimulate the secretion of bile and move it into the intestinal tract. Surgery is required if biliary mucocele is present or if there is a mass that does not respond to medical treatment. Gallstones can also be surgically removed or the gallbladder can also be removed without hurting the life of a dog. A dog can live without a gallbladder, just as a human can.
Be sure your dog is on a high quality low fat diet, as high fat has been known to contribute to gallstones and cause gallbladder disease. It is also important that your dog maintain a healthy weight as obese dogs are also prone to gallbladder disease and diabetes. Be sure to mange if your dog does have diabetes so that you can ward off the chances of gallbladder disease and any complications. With proper care and knowledge, your dog can avoid any gallbladder diseases and live a very happy, healthy life.