Icterus or yellow skin, more commonly known as jaundice is when tissues throughout the body turn yellow due to high levels of bilirubin (a bile pigment) in the blood. You will most likely notice jaundice on the skin, whites of the eyes or gums. Jaundice falls into three categories: prehepatic, hepatic and posthepatic. Finding out what category your cat’s jaundice falls into will help your vet figure out what the underlying condition and cause is. Jaundice usually signifies something wrong with the liver.
Types of jaundice
- Prehepatic jaundice occurs before blood has reached the liver.
- Hepatic jaundice is when there is damage or disease to the liver.
- Posthepatic jaundice occurs after blood has passed through the liver.
Symptoms of jaundice
- Yellow coloration of the skin
- Increased urination
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Urine and stools have a orange appearance
- Increased thirst
- Abdominal pain
In severe cases symptoms may also extend to:
Causes of jaundice
As mentioned, jaundice is a symptom of an underlying condition rather being a disease itself. Possible causes include:
- Excess fat in liver
- Tissue damage of liver
- Incompatible blood transfusion
- Large volume of blood inside a cavity.
For your vet to be able to come up with a proper diagnosis they will have to perform a number of tests including a complete blood count, a biochemistry profile and urinalysis. They will do a thorough physical examination and consider your pet’s health history.
Further tests involve: X-rays, ultrasounds and other radiographic studies – usually to get a better understanding of the size of the liver and to cite the presence of any masses or tumours.
Treatment completely depends on what the cause is and the appropriate course of action will be determined by your vet.
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