Liver Cleansing Diet and Milk Thistle 


When liver damage has been determined by  a chemistry panel, which show elevated values of Alk Phos, Alt (SGPT), and GGT, and then a urine bile acid test or a pre- and post-meal bile acid test, our Guardian Angels have had great success in reversing liver damage by doing three things:

  1. We recommend a 10% reduction of the days total amount of Phenobarbital every 3 weeks to avoid seizures from dropping the Phenobarbital too much, too quickly
  2. Feeding the liver cleansing diet
  3. Adding Milk Thistle to the diet

The liver cleansing diet has been formulated by W. Jean Dodds, DVM. Dr. Dodds recommends a formula of 2 cups of pollack, cod or any other low fat white fish fillet to 6 cups of veggies and potatoes, or 25% pollack, cod or any other low fat white fish fillet to 75% veggies and potatoes. This diet has proved extremely successful in reversing liver damage along with reducing Phenobarbital.

1 and 1/2 cups moist white cooking potatoes
1 and 1/2 cups sweet potatoes
1 and 1/2 cups of zucchini
1 and 1/2 cup string beans, celery or summer squash
2 cups pollack, cod or any other low fat white fish fillet

Scrub the potatoes well and cut them up crosswise into 2" pieces so the skin circles the potatoes. OR, you can peel the potatoes before you cook them.  Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  When cooled, remove the skins.

Wash the zucchini and cut up with string beans, celery or squash and steam or cook until very tender.

2 cups pollack, cod or any other low fat white fish fillet poached in a frying pan with water until fish is white and flaky.

Mix all ingredients together until it is well blended. This will give you approximately 8 cups of food. Depending on the size of your dog, you can double or triple the recipe. For flavor you can add a pinch of garlic powder and a little Italian Seasoning to each meal.

For supplementation use the recommend dose of infants liquid multi-vitamin.

If you have been feeding kibble please remember that kibble has many more calories than the liver cleansing diet. You will need to feed at least 25% to 50% more home cooking than kibble until you are sure your dogs weight is holding where you want it. Dogs can loose weight very quickly on the liver cleansing diet so you need to monitor their weight carefully.

With liver disease try to feed in 3 or 4 small meals, the last one being at bedtime. This puts less stress on the liver. Put 3 days of meals in baggies and freeze what you won't use in 3 days. You should be able to cook once a week and freeze what you don't use. This recipe will stay fresh for 3 days in the fridge.

White low-fat fish has a specific amino acid that actually helps heal the liver. Soy and fat-free cottage cheese also have this specific amino acid, but should not be used in a diet until the liver enzymes test comes back in a normal range.

Home cooking is very rich. If you have been feeding commercial dog food you will need to switch very slowly to the liver cleansing diet to avoid diarrhea. Start with 3/4 of your commercial dog food and 1/4 liver cleansing diet for a few days. Then 50% commercial food and 50% liver cleansing for a few days. Then 1/4 old food and 3/4 liver cleansing for a few days and then switch over completely to the liver cleansing diet. Make sure the stools are somewhat firm before you move to the next level.

If you are switching from kibble, and/or canned dog food, to home cooking and your dog is on potassium or sodium bromide, please be aware that there is considerably less sodium (salt) in home cooking than kibble or canned (which can have large amounts of sodium). Sodium, or salt, in the diet "uses up" the bromide and less salt in the diet could raise bromide levels substantially which would cause bromism. After switching over to home cooking, if your dog has weakness in its legs, trouble climbing stairs, gets "wobbly" or loses it's balance, your vet can reduce the bromide dose slowly and in small amounts. W. Jean Dodds, DVM, recommends reducing the dose of bromide slightly or by 1/3 at the most to see if the signs of bromism go away or are lessened. In a month, have the bromide levels checked to make sure they are in the therapeutic range. Don't worry about lowering the bromide as long as it stays in therapeutic range. Less bromide and home cooking will be healthier for your dog in the long range.


Dr. Dodds recommends using milk thistle in the doses listed below to help heal the liver along with reducing Phenobarbital (according to your vet) and feeding the liver cleansing diet.

Milk Thistle Dosage (from the newsletter "Healthy Pets - Naturally"):

Dog's size

Dose as % of adult human dose
5 lbs 10%
5-10 lbs 15%
11-20 lbs 20%
21-40 lbs 30%
41-70 lbs 50%
71-100 lbs 75%
100 lbs 100%

For more information on Milk Thistle, click here.

For full supplementation, use an Infant's liquid multi vitamin (use the dose for the body weight recommended) or read the list of supplements in the article "Supplements For Home Cooked Diet".