The Importance of Diet in The Management of Liver Disease (for veterinarians)
Nutritional intake in the patient with hepatobiliary disease provides the cornerstone of balanced medical care. Optimal recommendations require consideration of general nutritional principles, special species requirements and contemporary needs uniquely related to the patient’s medical problem.
Although general recommendations follow well-established guidelines developed to meet metabolic requirements for normal health, there is little information regarding altered requirements in animals that are ill. Consequently, recommendations for animals have been derived empirically from studies completed in humans, most work having been done in patients with end stage cirrhosis or liver failure complicated by hepatic encephalopathy. This is problematic because most veterinary patients with liver disease are not in hepatic failure and do not suffer from hepatic encephalopathy. Iatrogenic malnutrition can develop in patients when protein-restricted diets are inappropriately recommended. Insufficient energy intake and negative nitrogen balance can complicate a patient’s condition, impairing tissue regeneration and recovery from disease. This paper reviews strategies that can be used to individualize nutritional management in small companion animals with hepatobiliary disease. Consideration is given to both the known and controversial issues regarding energy requirements, dietary energy distribution, vitamin and micronutrient supple- mentation, the special requirements of the cat with hepatic lipidosis, as well as strategies effective for palliation of hepatic encephalopathy. J. Nutr. 128: 2733S–2746S, 1998.