• Hi. Our vet is concerned about a mild ongoing elevation in our basenji's ALT liver enzyme. She says this particular enzyme is released when the liver encounters damage. We tried Denamarin and Hepa-Support for a month, but the latest blood test shows no improvement. It could be due to constant exposure to something we can't figure out, or it might signal a real problem with her liver. Any ideas?? Thanks!

  • Has a full blood panel been done? Is this the only thing that is showing? Have they wanted to do an ultrasound? Have you talked to your Basenji's breeder to see if if they know about anything that might be going on?

    You can try the Liver Cleansing diet and see if that makes a difference. But first thing if there has not been a full blood workup, that would be top of the list. And then maybe consider an ultrasound.

    Here is a link: http://www.canine-epilepsy.com/Liver%20cleansing%20diet.htm

  • Ah, yes, full blood panel has been done. No other problem except this. There were two elevated enzymes a month ago. One went back to normal after the month of meds; the ALT remained at "high normal." The vet mentioned an ultrasound might be the next step if nothing changes after another month of meds…I'll look into the cleansing diet for sure.

    Maybe I'll track down her breeder, too. Noel, our B, is seven years old. She came from Medfly Rescue, but I think the breeder is mentioned in the paperwork they gave us.

    Thanks so much.

  • have you tried a holistic vet?

  • Nope. Don't know if there's one in the area. It's sort of been in the back of my mind, though, for other reasons. Our girl was hit by a car a few years ago and has a limp. As she ages, I know she'll need help with the arthritis and pain…

  • weird! my 11yr old basenji rescue just got bloodwork done and they found the same problem! not sure what's causing it.. going to redo the bloodwork in a few weeks to see if it's improving. could this be a sign of fanconi or something more serious?

  • Not a sign of Fanconi…. spilling sugar is the first sign... and of course if you have the DNA test done, you would know for sure if that could be a problem.

  • A detail I didn't mention in my original post was that our basenji has been taking an NSAID for a while. That's why we test her blood regularly. Our vet discounted the NSAID as the cause because ALT isn't the usual enzyme associated with NSAID usage; however, after the last hour spent reading and rereading various articles about this drug and its side effects, I am going to stop the NSAID and go with the liver cleanse diet and Hepa-Support meds for another month. Then we'll retest her blood. Does that sound sane?

  • is milk thistle included on the liver cleansing diet? (i forget) if it's not, you may want to do some research and ask your vet about milk thistle supplement. it's easy enough to find at your local holistic food store.

  • Oh, yes, milk thistle is the main ingredient in her Hepato Support capsules. Good to know that you think it's helpful. Thanks.

  • ALT could definitely be elevated because of the NSAID. Just because it is not the "norm" doesn't mean it isn't the NSAID. I have a couple that have blood work that is normal for them that is not quite "normal". I also have one whose liver enzyme numbers are "atypical" for pred use but the specialist still feels they are probably from that.

  • Interesting. Thanks. I am feeling better about stopping the NSAID and seeing what her ALT level is after a month.

  • Spencer has the same issue. He has had elevated ALKP since last fall, but it tripled in January, and his ALT was elevated for the first time last week (while his ALKP decreased). I opted to have the ultrasound to see if we could figure out what was going on.

    Spencer is now on milk thistle and SAMe, so we'll see. I was far more alarmed than my vet and the vets at UT, who all claim that they routinely see much, much higher liver values in older dogs (especially those on NSAIDs). They also told me that the "norm" isn't really a good benchmark for older dogs with aging organs and multiple health issues. I knew that, but it was good to hear. Sounds like you're doing all the right things– I hope it helps your little girl!

  • Thanks. Hope Spencer does better, too. Has he been taking an NSAID?

  • No, NSAIDs aren't a good option for Spencer because of his kidneys. We can't find any specific reason for his liver enzymes to be so high. It's puzzling.

  • I see. Hope you find an answer. I think I'd better start a new thread about alternatives to NSAIDS! Chime in if you and Spencer have any advice.

  • Milk thistle is one of the herbal treatments that has good solid research supporting it. Having liver disease myself, I have used it almost 11 yrs and truly do credit it with helping me still be here.

    That said, a lot of people, including vets, swear that Sam-e works. Arwen has had slightly elevated liver enzymes for almost 2 yrs. Not much better even with both supplements, never worse, and yes, she has had full blood work and is DNA Fanconi clear. However, she does have CUPS so it on and off antibiotics and on steroids, low dose every other day. Her liver enzymes actually get better on antibiotics, so who the heck knows.

  • Debra, which milk thistle do you use? And how long does it generally take to show any effect? My vet was skeptical about the herbals, but I wanted to try them. As long as alternative treatments don't interfere with the meds Spencer takes, I'm willing to try anything. I've had very good success with supplements outside the prescriptive– as I know many others have.

  • My 13 year old girl was diagnosed with a gallbladder problem via ultrasound over a year ago and was recently diagnosed with a liver mass. For the gall bladder problem, she is taking Ursodiol and she is taking two supplements for the liver problem. She cannot go on the liver diet because she has Fanconi.


  • Jennifer, how did they diagnose the liver mass– ultrasound? Spencer's ultrasound and abdominal x-rays did not show an enlarged liver or any sort of mass, but the vet said a liver tumor was possible. I did not want to do a biopsy, so we're unsure what is causing the elevated liver enzymes and are treating the dog, not the bloodwork.

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