Head Pressing: Explaining Hepatic Encephalopathy

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Understanding Pet Health Conditions

Hello, my name is Selena. Welcome to my site about pet health. When your pet is feeling under the weather, all you can do is take him or her to the vet for a checkup. The vet uses diagnostic equipment and knowledge to find out the cause of your pet’s distress. Vets can perform treatments or prescribe medication that helps your pet to quickly heal from the illness or injury. There are so many different pet health conditions, so I decided to create this site to go over them all. I invite you to come along on this journey and learn more about pet health conditions. Thanks.


Head Pressing: Explaining Hepatic Encephalopathy

15 June 2016
 Categories: Pets & Animals, Blog

Bringing a dog or cat into your home is a wonderful experience, but this new family member will require a great deal of love and care. While feeding and training your new dog or cat are most likely priorities, ensuring they are healthy is also important. Unfortunately, many early warning signs of serious medical conditions go unnoticed. Dogs and cats that press their head to a wall or other flat surface may be suffering with Hepatic Encephalopathy. This head pressing may seem unimportant, but your dog or cat will require immediate care from their veterinarian. Using this guide, you will have a better understanding of Hepatic Encephalopathy.

Hepatic Encephalopathy: Explained

If your pet's liver cannot out ammonia, they will develop liver disease. The excess ammonia in your pet's system will eventually cause the brain to swell, decreasing your pet's ability to think and act normally.

Head pressing is the most common symptom, but animals with Hepatic Encephalopathy may exhibit the following symptoms, as well:

  • Confusion and Disorientation
  • Staring/Gazing
  • Fatigue
  • Vision Difficulty
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Seizures
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Increased Thirst
  • Urination Issues
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Consult the veterinarian immediately if your dog or cat is head pressing or showing one or more of the above signs.


After diagnosing your dog or cat with Hepatic Encephalopathy, your veterinarian will need to determine if they have a liver shunt. Liver shunts cause blood to flow around the liver instead of directly through it. If your dog or cat has a liver shut, their livers will not be able to process ammonia properly, resulting in Hepatic Encephalopathy.

Conducting a surgery to place an ameroid constrictor into the liver is a common treatment option. This device closes the liver shunt over a period of 3 to 4 weeks, improving the liver's ability to process ammonia and other substances.

Antibiotic therapy may also be necessary. Antibiotics will kill off harmful bacteria while reducing ammonia in the liver and bloodstream.

Changing your pet's diet is also important while treating Hepatic Encephalopathy. Reduce the amount of processed foods your pet consumes, since these foods increase the production of ammonia. Make sure your pet eats a sufficient amount of protein each day. Consider adding cottage cheese or eggs to their daily diet. Both cottage cheese and eggs offer a good amount of protein without the worry of ammonia production.

Head pressing is a main symptom of a dangerous condition. Using this guide, you will understand the dangers of head pressing and learn how to treat your pet's Hepatic Encephalopathy (click for more info).