Biliary sludge common in dogs

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter

Biliary sludge occurs in around a third of dogs, most often in senior animals, and with no difference in frequency between males and females, shows analysis of ultrasonography data for more than 1000 animals.

Specifically, the condition - characterized by thickened bile - occurred in significantly more senior-aged (10 years or more) dogs than their young (0-4 years), and middle-aged (5-9 years) counterparts.

The researchers also noted no significant associations between the presence of biliary sludge and the dogs' gender. Neither was there any correlation between the condition and eating frequency, intake of human, homemade, or commercial food, or intake of all three food types.

"Regular ultrasonographic assessments to determine when biliary sludge formation/dissolution occurs, besides additional tests such as microscopic analysis of the sludge and post-mortem histopathological analysis of the gallbladder wall… may contribute to shed[ding] some light upon sludge formation and its clinical significance in dogs," suggest P Secchi (University of Passo Fundo, Brazil) and colleagues.

Among a total of 1021 dogs with medical files in the Division of Imaging Diagnosis of PETLAB (Porto Alegre, Brazil), 34.9% had biliary sludge, evidenced on ultrasonography by low-level echoes without acoustic shadowing, and with gravity-dependent motility.

A sample of 100 dogs from the initial cohort also underwent blood sampling for detection of biochemical markers including albumin, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, gamma-glutamyltransferase, total proteins, and cholesterol.

Biliary sludge was significantly more predominant in poodle (23.3%), Cocker Spaniel (6.2), and Beagle (5.1%) breeds compared with any other of the 55 breeds identified, report Secchi et al.

They found no significant differences in biochemical parameters of the 100 blood-tested dogs, although ALP levels were higher overall in the cohort, and dogs with biliary sludge had higher mean levels than those without, at 426.49 versus 223.91 U/L, respectively.

Presence of biliary sludge was associated with hepatomegaly in 61.8% of animals taking systemic drugs that were diagnosed with sludge via ultrasonography, while 82.4% of all animals with sludge had cardiopathies.

Indeed, the only factor that trended toward significance in regression analysis was the presence of cardiovascular diseases, which was associated with a 7.07-fold increased odds for having biliary sludge, report the authors in Research in Veterinary Science.

"Hepatomegaly could originate from passive congestion. This finding often indicates cardiac other than liver diseases," they write.

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