UK vets have developed a blood test that quickly detects early signs of liver disease in dogs.
The test—described in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine—means that fewer dogs will have to undergo invasive liver biopsies.
Diagnosing canine liver disease is challenging and catching early signs of damage is key to its treatment. Current diagnosis is based on biopsies, which are expensive and can lead to complications.
Hoping to develop a simpler and cheaper diagnostic test, vets from the University of Edinburgh teamed up with medical doctors to look at blood levels of a molecule known as miR-122 in dogs. This molecule is also found in high levels in people living with liver disease.
They worked with pets and their owners to test miR-122 levels in 250 dogs including cocker spaniels, labradoodles and Old English sheepdogs.
Dogs with liver disease were found to have significantly higher levels of a miR-122 compared with healthy dogs and dogs who had a different disease that did not affect the liver.
The team now plan to launch a testing kit to help vets worldwide quickly assess if their patient pooches have liver damage.
“We have found a specific, sensitive and non-invasive way to detect liver damage in dogs. We hope that our test will greatly improve outcomes by allowing vets to make rapid and accurate diagnosis,” lead researcher Professor Richard Mellanby said.