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Milk Thistle for Gallbladder Disease in Pets

Veterinarian Approved on January 3, 2013 by Dr. Janice Huntingford

Gallbladder disease is fairly common in humans but is not very common in pets. The gallbladder is a sac like structure that is found between the lobes of the liver. It functions to store bile– a yellow-green fluid produced by the liver that is used for digestion of fat. This bile is secreted into the small intestine as part of the digestive process.

Problems can occur with the gallbladder when the ducts become obstructed and the flow of bile is stopped. In dogs and cats this usually is related to pancreatitis. Other causes can be gall stones, cancerous tumours, trauma, and bacterial inflammation.
Diagnosis of gallbladder disease is difficult because the signs are often vague (vomiting, abdominal pain, anorexia) and laboratory tests are not specific. Ultrasound diagnosis is the most common way of pinpointing gallbladder problems.

Gallbladder disease is treated by treating the underlying cause. If the cause is not a stone or a tumor causing an obstruction, then antibiotics may be prescribed. If an obstruction is found then surgery to remove the gallbladder may be indicated.

Natural therapy for gallbladder disease will depend on the cause. If the problem involves the liver, then the treatment may include Milk Thistle. A veterinarian trained in Chinese Veterinary Medicine and Herbal Therapy may be able to prescribe a Chinese herbal formula and acupuncture to help the pet. A natural diet with restricted fat is also a good recommendation. Other natural therapies such as Artichoke and Vitamin E may also be helpful.

If your pet is diagnosed with gallbladder disease, remember that you have options for treatment.

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Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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