VCA Animal Hospitals

Preparing a dog for a bile acid test

Published: Apr 25, 2012

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Seizures in dogs can be quite scary for a pet owner, which is why it's important to get the animal to a veterinarian as soon as possible if it occurs. Once the doctor examines the animal, it's likely that they will recommend performing a bile acid test to determine the source of the seizure.

Liver disease is one of the leading causes of seizures in dogs, and a bile acid test is a good test of liver function.  Essentially, bile is produced by the liver to aid the process of digestion. Most of the time, a functioning liver will recycle bile acids in the body by removing them from the blood stream, while a damaged or unhealthy liver cannot and the level of bile acids in the blood will rise.  

The most important aspect of a bile acid test is the fasting beforehand. The dog is required to not eat or drink anything for approximately 12 hours before the test is administered, reports VCA Animal Hospitals. This even includes chews and small treats. It can be tempting for an owner to feed their dog, but it is essential that the canine does not eat during this time in order to get an accurate result.

Once the fast is completed, blood will be drawn from the dog.  The dog is then allowed to eat and digest a portion of food and a second blood sample will be drawn two hours later. Both blood samples are tested for the level of bile acids.  If the liver is working properly, a fasted dog should have very low levels of bile acids and only a slightly higher level after it has eaten.  In a dog with liver disease, both samples or just the sample taken after eating may be abnormal.  Depending on the degree of abnormality, your veterinarian is likely to recommend other tests or treatments for your dog with liver disease.

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General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.

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