The 11 Best Dog Foods for Liver Diseases

By Kevin Myers | 2020 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

When it comes to feeding your dog, the right nutrition can keep them healthy through the years and stave off disease.

But when your dog has a liver condition, nutrition becomes doubly important.

You have to know what ingredients your dog’s food contains, and if those ingredients are healthy for a dog with a liver condition.

The wrong ingredients can build up toxins in the liver. For example, a high-sodium diet can worsen your dog’s liver condition.

In this article, you will learn everything about what to feed and, more importantly, what not to feed your beloved pet diagnosed with liver disease.

But first, let’s check out the top diets on the list:

The Best Dog Foods for Liver Diseases

1. Hill’s Prescription Diet — l/d Liver Care Original Canned Dog Food

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per can): 515 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 4.5%, Fat (min.) 5.5%, Fiber (max.) 2%, Moisture (max.) 78%
  • Form: Wet
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Water, 2. Rice, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Soybean Meal, 5. Soybean Oil
  • Pea-free
  • Veterinary diet

If your dog has a liver condition, the wrong food can be harmful to them, so it’s important to give them proper nutrition. Hills is the leader in prescription diets and offers the right combination of ingredients for dogs with liver impairments.

This diet is great for supporting the overall health of your dog while leaving out those things harmful to the liver. In addition to the supplementation specifically for the liver, it contains essential nutrients, vitamins, reduced sodium, and digestible proteins. Help your dog maintain a healthy metabolism and immune system with clinically proven nutrients and antioxidants in this great tasting formula by Hill’s Prescription Diet.

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2. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet — Hepatic Formula Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3768 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 14%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 3.6%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Brewers Rice, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Corn, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Soy Protein Isolate
  • Pea-free, sensitive digestion
  • Veterinary diet

This veterinary diet option by Royal Canin features all the characteristics that make it one of the best dog foods for liver diseases. With elevated levels of dietary fiber, optimal nutrition, increased levels of zinc, and restricted copper, this recipe is everything your dog needs to keep his liver healthy. The delicious, crunchy kibble is formulated with an impressive nutrient-profile to support liver function in dogs.

The recipe is crafted from selective ingredients, beneficial for dogs with liver problems. The digestible recipe is also highly palatable, making it an easy sell at mealtime. The restricted copper content allows this food to fill your dog’s belly without filling their liver with unwanted copper. Feed your dog a bowl filled with goodness and a precise blend of antioxidants to support the immune system.

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3. The Honest Kitchen — Whole Grain Turkey Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4140 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 22%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 8.6%
  • Form: Dehydrated
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Dehydrated Turkey, 2. Organic Oats, 3. Dehydrated Potatoes, 4. Organic Flaxseed, 5. Dehydrated Carrots
  • Wheat-free, corn-free, soy-free, pea-free
  • GMO-free

This recipe from The Honest Kitchen contains natural and simple ingredients like high-quality free-range turkey to support your dog’s liver. The recipe is also rich in other sources of protein, zinc, and vitamin E to help your dog maintain good liver function. The dehydrated version has moderate levels of fat and protein, which makes it particularly beneficial for senior and adult dogs.

Free of soy, wheat, corn, preservatives, GMO, and by-products, this formulation gives your dog only healthy and natural ingredients. The dehydrated formula is minimally processed using whole-food ingredients to strengthen your dog’s immune system for fighting liver diseases.

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4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe Adult Large Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large breed, giant breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3251 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 28%, Fat (min.) 9%, Fiber (max.) 10%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Pea Protein, 4. Peas, 5. Tapioca Starch
  • Grain-free
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

This unique raw blend by Blue Buffalo Wilderness offers great nutritional value for dogs with liver problems. Made from high-quality natural ingredients, the brand guarantees the purity of its ingredients and ensures them to be free of preservatives, artificial flavors, and by-products. This Wilderness Formula has deboned-chicken as its primary ingredient, and it also contains great sources of phosphorus and vitamin B6, selenium, and niacin.

The LifeSource Bits are a big hit with owners. They contain a precise blend of essential minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants selected by animal nutritionists and holistic veterinarians. The amazing blend of kibbles does flaunt not only a healthy oxidative balance for your pooch but also supports a stronger immune system for great health.

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5. Purina Pro Plan — Savor Adult Shredded Blend Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4064 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 26%, Fat (min.) 16%, Fiber (max.) 3%, Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Lamb, 2. Rice Flour, 3. Corn Gluten Meal, 4. Whole Grain Wheat, 5. Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Omega-6 fatty acids

This offering from ProPlan is formulated with probiotics to aid in digestion and provide for good overall health. Easier digestion means less stress on the liver, which makes this a good option for dogs with liver problems. Additionally, the nutrient profile is rich in essential fatty acids and uses lamb as the primary ingredient.

The complete and balanced nutrition is all that your dog needs to support great health and aid in disease prevention. Offer your dog the savory flavor of a perfect mixture of palatable shreds and kibble.

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6. CANIDAE — All Life Stages Multi-Protein Formula Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3600 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 4.5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken Meal, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Lamb Meal, 4. Brown Rice, 5. White Rice
  • Wheat-free, corn-free, soy-free
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

The multi-protein formula by CANIDAE is much more than just a delicious meal for your pooch; it provides a complete and balanced diet that helps them build a strong immune system and fights disease. It’s a great pick for dogs with liver problems as it features premium ingredients that offer optimum nutrition. With high-quality ingredients including turkey, chicken, and lamb, the nutritionally dense formula is free of common allergens and supports healthy digestion. A top pick for sure.


7. Blue Buffalo — Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3627 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Barley, 5. Oatmeal
  • Wheat-free, corn-free, soy-free
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

The ‘Life Protection’ formula by Blue Buffalo provides a healthy, holistic diet for your four-legged best friend. It’s a good option for keeping your dog’s liver in great shape as the formula includes only premium-quality ingredients including real meat, garden vegetables, whole-grains, flavorful fruits, and added LifeSource Bits. Your dog gets a precise blend of nutrients enhanced with a super-7 package of antioxidant-rich ingredients. Your dog will fall in love with the savory taste.


8. Hill’s Prescription Diet — l/d Liver Care Pork Flavor Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per cup): 402 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 14.5%, Fat (min.) 20.5%, Fiber (max.) 3.5%,
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Brewers Rice, 2. Pork Fat, 3. Egg Product, 4. Soybean Meal, 5. Powdered Cellulose
  • Pea-free
  • Veterinary diet

This diet from Hill’s helps your dog with digestion and conversion of nutrients, which supports a healthy liver. It also contains nutrients that help the liver repair and regenerate itself. Rich in essential minerals and vitamins, it aids in removing toxic substances from the blood while helping your dog maintain great health with high-quality nutrients. The L-arginine and L-carnitine levels in the formula promote fat metabolism, helping in the prevention of liver diseases.


9. Forza10 — Nutraceutic Sensitive Digestion Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3566 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 15.6%, Fiber (max.) 3.7%, Moisture (max.) 8%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Anchovy Meal, 2. Peas, 3. Fava Beans, 4. Pork Meal, 5. Fish Oil
  • Grain-free, Limited-Ingredient Diet
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Forza10 is a brand founded by an Italian veterinarian, with specializations in natural medicine, homeopathy, and food-related problems. This particular blend belongs to their sensitive digestion line and is an excellent source of nutrition for dogs with digestive and liver-related health problems. The diet is not only a great choice to prevent liver diseases in dogs but provides complete nutritional balance for optimal health.


10. Nutro Max — Adult Recipe with Farm-Raised Chicken Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3715 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 3.5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken Meal, 2. Whole Grain Sorghum, 3. Brewers Rice, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal
  • Wheat-free, corn-free, soy-free
  • Omega-6 fatty acids

This adult recipe by Nutro Max is prepared from farm-raised chicken and works with only natural ingredients to ensure your dog gets the best nutrition. Other handpicked ingredients include whole grains to boost the organ function in dogs to help them maintain great health. Free of artificial colors, preservatives, flavors, soy, corn, and wheat, this food option is the safest choice for dog owners concerned about their dog’s health. Support your dog’s healthy digestion with this meal and provide absolute liver care.


11. Instinct by Nature’s Variety — Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Dog Food

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4406 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 37%, Fat (min.) 20%, Fiber (max.) 3%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Tapioca
  • Grain-free, gluten-free
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

If you want to stick with a raw food option for your dog with liver problems, this blend of kibble from Instinct is a great choice. The grain-free recipe uses real chicken and a variety of high-quality ingredients to offer great nutrition for your dog. The formula is made from mainly animal protein to boost maximum digestibility and reduce strain on the liver. No wonder it is such a hit for dogs that are susceptible to liver problems.

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FAQs

How can my dog get liver disease?

The most common viral disease associated with the canine liver is infectious canine hepatitis. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that dogs can acquire by coming in contact with urine infected soil or water, and it can lead to liver disease.

What are the causes of increased liver enzymes in my dog?

There are certain situations or diseases that could lead to a rise in liver enzymes, including Hepatitis (swelling or inflammation of the liver). The increased liver enzymes in dogs can also be due to a buildup of fats in the liver, which causes fatty liver disease.

Can liver disease be painful for my dog?

It depends on the cause and the symptoms the liver disease produces. These could range from being very specific to becoming very vague. Most dogs experience a feeling of malaise that progresses into vomiting, nausea, weight loss, anorexia, diarrhea, and possibly abdominal pain. In some cases, liver disease can be painful for your dog.

Can liver disease lead to liver failure?

Yes, it can. It all starts with the disease and progresses to the fatal stage of liver failure. Your dog may not present any symptoms associated with liver disease at an early stage. Sometimes, even a bacterial infection can be the beginning of liver disease.

Is liver disease a life-threatening disease?

Unfortunately, just like humans, dogs can die because of liver failure. It is a life-threatening condition that demands prompt medical care. The initial symptoms of liver disease may not be very serious, but as the condition progresses, it can become more serious. Jaundice, easy bruising or bleeding, and swelling in the legs and abdomen due to fluid, are some common symptoms of end-stage liver failure.

What are the common symptoms that I need to watch out for poor liver function?

Many signs and symptoms can indicate liver disease in dogs. The most common ones include diarrhea, vomiting, blood in the stool, encephalopathy (brain disease related to liver failure), swelling on the gallbladder, necrosis (tissue death), and jaundice. Bacterial infection, intense itching, loss of appetite, swelling, and problems with memory and concentration are also some common symptoms.

How do I find out if my dog is prone to liver disease?

Look for the symptoms, especially for jaundice. The constant yellowing of the tongue, eyes, or mucous membranes are the tell-tale signs of liver disease. A dog prone to liver disease may also present symptoms like lethargy, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or vomiting.

What type of diet can I give my dog with elevated liver enzymes?

The right diet can make a lot of difference to the level of the enzymes in your dog’s liver. Eliminate food with high levels of copper and sodium as it could put additional stress on the liver. Also, choose diets with moderate levels of lean protein and reduced sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Can a dog’s liver repair itself?

Liver damage can be more serious than you think. Therefore, you must offer your dog a comfortable environment to relax and recover, and the right diet that provides them with all the essential nutrients without stressing the digestive system or compromising liver function. With the right food and assistance from a vet, your dog’s liver should be able to repair itself.

What are the best sources of protein for my dog?

Stick to high-quality protein from turkey, chicken, lamb, and other meat sources. Choose a diet with moderate levels of protein levels.

What if my dog’s diet contains copper?

Copper poisoning is a significant problem for dogs with liver problems. When choosing the best dog foods for liver diseases, it is best to pick an option with little to no copper.

What minerals and vitamins should I add to my dog’s diet with liver disease?

The suggested list of supplements includes:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin C
  • Adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
  • Calcium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • L-Carnitine
  • L-Arginine

Is a grain-free diet option better for my dog with liver disease?

It depends on your dog’s particular response to grains. If your dog is sensitive and usually takes a grain-free diet, it is best to continue with a grain-free option that wouldn’t put any further stress on the liver. If your dog is fine with a grain-inclusive option, there’s no harm in feeding it.

How do I restrict sodium intake for my dog diagnosed with liver disease?

If you prepare homemade food for your dog diagnosed with liver disease, cut down on salt completely. Watch out for ingredients with natural levels of sodium and eliminate those ingredients too. For readymade options, check out the labels and pick a food that has minimal to no sodium content. Use the same approach for treats and snacks.

What things do I need to look for in the best dog foods for liver disease?

You need a perfect balance of nutrients and supplements. In addition to ensuring an impressive nutrient profile, you must ensure the food includes ingredients that will support your dog’s liver care instead of putting further stress on it.

What treatment should I give my dog with liver disease?

In addition to changing the diet, there are medicines and supplements available that can be given to dogs to fight the disease. However, it is best to take professional advice from your dog’s vet beforehand.

Buyer’s Guide

Examining your dog’s diet is the first thing you need to do if your dog has been diagnosed with liver disease. A proper diet is essential for combating symptoms and restoring liver health.

But remember, liver disease is a serious health problem and you need more information on hand to provide your dog with the best possible care and treatment for his condition. And if that’s what you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered. So without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Understanding Liver Disease in Dogs

In addition to removing the waste and toxins from the body, the liver is also responsible for producing bile for digestion. If compromised, the accumulation of toxins will not only harm the liver itself but also affect various other bodily systems including the brain and heart.

Common Symptoms That You Shouldn’t Ignore

In some cases, there are no visible symptoms in the initial stages of liver disease. Despite being a major organ, the liver can stay functional even at a diminished capacity. However, if the disease remains undiagnosed and untreated, the progression may show the following symptoms:

  • Jaundice – check for the yellowness in eyes and tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Bleeding problems
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Recurring gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Orange urine
  • Light grey stool
  • Neurological signs, such as numbness, circling, or seizures
  • Bloated or swollen abdomen
  • Increased fluid consumption
  • Excessive itchiness

While there’s no specific reason why your dog may suffer life-threatening liver disease, it is often associated with inflammation, which itself can be due to various reasons like cancer, parasites, fungus, or a viral infection. Vets highlight the following causes that could be behind canine liver disease:

  • Abdominal trauma
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Bacterial infection
  • Viruses
  • Parasites
  • Fungi
  • Inherited traits and genetics
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Immune disorders

The symptoms stated above can be linked to other health problems in dogs. So before you change your pooch’s diet or start any treatment, it is best to get your dog diagnosed by a vet and take preventative measures under expert guidance.

Liver Disease in Dogs and Specific Diet Requirements

When it comes to nutrients, some people are confused about whether feeding a high protein diet is a good idea or not. Let’s be clear about one thing: protein is not a problem for dogs with liver-related health issues. It is an essential nutrient that boosts proper liver function. It is the presence of ammonia in the protein that could trouble dogs with end-stage, chronic liver disease. If the liver is severely damaged, or if there’s a shunt problem, the presence of ammonia can be bad for your dog. The key is to figure out the best protein sources with the least amount of ammonia instead of eliminating protein. It is best to stick to high-quality, animal-based protein with the amino acids.

On the other hand, if your dog has an early stage of liver disease, or a minor liver problem, a regular raw diet or prepared wet-food or kibbles are great options too. Just watch out for the amount of fat as it is advisable to give low-to-moderate levels of fat to dogs with liver problems. When the liver function is compromised, the breaking down of fats can be a struggle for dogs.

Next comes in the carbs. Complex carbohydrates contribute soluble fiber, which aids with reducing nitrogenous wastes and absorb ammonia. Some carb sources, such as oatmeal, contain more of this beneficial fiber as compared to other sources. Therefore, it is important to check out the ingredients thoroughly.

Fats are also essential for calories and energy requirements. And as important as it is to include fat in your dog’s diet, sticking to a recommended level is imperative. The liver processes fats and if your dog’s already suffering from a liver problem, it is best not to cause further distress by feeding excessive fats that are indigestible for your hound.

All in all, dogs diagnosed with liver shunt or chronic liver issues should be fed high-quality, low-ammonia producing animal-based protein, low amounts of quality fats, and complex carbs that are rich in soluble fiber. If you stick to these guidelines, your dog can live a healthier and longer life.

In addition to the specific diet for dogs with liver disease, it is important to stick to the basic goals of the treatment plan recommended by experts.

  • Good nutrition is the key to maintaining great health and energy
  • Provide a diet that reduces stress on the organ and promote liver care and regeneration
  • Minimize and prevent potential complications by diagnosing the threat and getting early treatment for your dog before the toxins affect other organs and parts of the body
  • Inhibit and preclude liver damage from the accumulation of substances such as sodium and copper

With these key points in mind, you are ready to proceed with picking up the best dog foods for liver diseases.

Additional Foods to Help Dogs with Liver Disease

With all that information about the perfect nutrition in hand, here’s some more about the additional types of food you can consider to add to your little tail-waggers diet:

  • Dairy products are a great source of protein for dogs with liver disease. Add a moderate amount of yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, or goat cheese to their diet.
  • Your priority should be to feed high-quality, animal-based protein to your pooch, primarily extracted from chicken and turkey.
  • Oatmeal, white rice, barley, and plain pumpkin are a great source of essential fiber. Consider adding them to your dog’s diet.
  • If you are picking a prepared meal for your pooch, a diet option with omega-3 fatty acids is a great choice. You can also add fish oil to their meal bowl to achieve the recommended levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Coconut oil is a great additional food for your hound.
  • For fruits, include papayas, figs, seedless watermelon, and blueberries.

Here’s some more insight about essential nutrition that you must be aware of:

Protein Control

Do not reduce or eliminate protein; monitor your dog’s protein intake. Providing only high-quality, animal-based protein gives your dog enough amino acids that aids with digestion.

Copper Content 

The reason you must monitor protein intake is that certain animal-based ingredients can contain high levels of copper. Since that’s a big no-no for your dog suffering liver disease, it is best to avoid these protein sources. Some types of meats that contain high levels of copper include salmon, pork, and duck. Contrarily, chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, cheese, and whitefish are rich in amino acids and low in copper content.

Fats and Carbs

A high level of fat in a dog’s diet isn’t only bad for weight maintenance, but can also lead to liver disease in canines. Stick to low levels of fat. For carbs, the complex version is great for your pet’s digestion due to high fiber content. These are present in ingredients like white rice and oatmeal.

Commercial Diets

There are commercial diet options formulated for liver care in canines. Your vet often prescribes these veterinary diets. We’ve added the best available options on our list to make a choice easier for you.

Added Supplements

Since you are cutting sodium content, it is important to balance that out with essential supplements, such as vitamin E, vitamin B complex, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin K, and SAMe.

Feeding Patterns

In addition to an altered diet, a few changes in the feeding routine can benefit your beloved little guy. Instead of the regular two meals during the day, try a different feeding pattern with several smaller meals throughout the day, which can help with improved digestion and better liver function.

Seek Out Veterinary Advice

It is best to speak to your vet about the possible treatment options and diet changes for your pet’s health. If your dog has liver disease, make sure you work together with your vet to design the right routine and a proper diet for them. Good nutrition is a primary weapon for helping your dog battle through, and recover from the effects of liver disease.

Conclusion

As I have said earlier, reading the labels are your number one priority when you are looking for the best dog foods for your beloved pooch.

Don’t forget to check out the recommendations I have made above to help you narrow down your options. Use this information and get the best dog foods for combating liver disease!

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