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Bile Duct Obstruction in Dogs

Sonia Nair Jul 27, 2020
Obstruction of bile duct in canines may lead to complications that can be prevented with proper and timely treatment. Read on...
Bile production is one of the most important functions of the liver. This fluid that is produced by the liver aids in digestion. Once produced in the liver, it flows to the gallbladder, where it is stored. The bile is released into the small intestine, after every meal.
It is the bile duct that carry the bile to the gallbladder and from there to the small intestine. Apart from aiding the digestion of fats, bile also neutralizes the stomach acid that enters the small intestine.
In case of obstruction of the bile duct, the flow of bile will get affected negatively, resulting in a host of symptoms. If left untreated, this condition, which is otherwise known as cholestasis, may lead to severe complications that may sometimes lead to death.

Canine Bile Duct Obstruction

Now you know that canines may develop a blocked bile duct, which is a condition where the flow of bile through the bile ducts gets obstructed. This results in accumulation of bile in the liver and causes various symptoms.
Bile duct obstruction in dogs is mostly seen in older canines, but even younger members may develop this condition. It has also been noted that some dog breeds are predisposed to this condition. They include Miniature schnauzers and Shetland sheepdogs.

Causes and Symptoms

As bile duct is associated with both liver as well as the gallbladder, conditions affecting both these organs may cause bile duct obstruction. The bile duct passes to the small intestine, through the pancreas and so, even pancreatic conditions may cause blocked bile duct in dogs.
Some of the common causes for this condition are inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), gallstones (cholelithiasis) and malignant or benign tumor in any of these organs. Bile duct cancer in dogs can also block the bile flow. Bile duct obstruction in dogs may also be caused by trauma to the abdomen or as a side effect of abdominal surgery.
Other causes include inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) and parasitic infestation. The symptoms of this condition may vary with the underlying cause.
  • Lethargy and/or fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Yellow or orange-colored urine
  • Pale-colored stools
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding disorders


Diagnosis of bile duct obstruction in dogs is usually done with the help of blood tests, urinalysis, X-ray, ultrasound imaging or through diagnostic surgeries. In case of obstruction of bile duct, the blood test may show high levels of liver enzymes and high levels of bilirubin will be found in the urine test.
Treatment for this condition may vary from one dog to another, on the basis of the underlying cause. In case of underlying causes, like tumor, surgical treatment may be required. While other causes, like parasitic infestation or inflammation may be relieved with medications. The animal may also be put on diet restrictions during the treatment.
Now that you have a fair idea about the condition, you must provide the dog with immediate medical attention, if you notice such symptoms in the animal. Otherwise, serious complications, like damage to the liver and/or gallbladder may happen.
Disclaimer: This story is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Your vet is the best person to diagnose and treat any canine health condition.