A little organ tucked in that helps with digestion
Nestled between the lobes of the liver, lies the gallbladder. It serves as a reservoir for bile. As the liver produces the bile, it moves through canals (called canniculi) through the liver until it travels through the hepatic duct and into the gallbladder. Once food has entered the stomach, a chemical cue stimulates the gallbladder to release the bile. The bile flows from the gallbladder through the common bile duct and is secreted into the stomach to facilitate digestion of the meal.
The gallbladder is part of the gastrointestinal system and is important in digesting food.
Occasionally, problems can arise! Problems can stem from obstructions, neoplasia (cancer), or stones, to name a few. Obstructions can be caused by an inflamed and swollen pancreas (pancreatitis) compressing the common bile duct, gall stones blocking the duct completely, or cancer. Or, the bile itself can become too thick to travel through the common bile duct and can back up in the gallbladder itself and cause pain and discomfort. Sometimes the bile can become a mucous ball that does not leave the gallbladder, this is called a mucocele and can be an emergency situation.
Addressing problems affecting the gallbladder quickly is important because if they are left untreated, they can cause serious complications. If you notice your pet not eating as well as they used to, vomiting, or if your pets skin, eyes or gums begin to turn yellow, please seek veterinary care immediately.
If your veterinarian recommends removal of your pets gallbladder, do not fret! Cats and dogs can live long and healthy lives without it and not suffer any complications!
Ashley DiPrete, RVT, VTS (SAIM) is a Registered Veterinary Technician practicing in California and obtained her Veterinary Technician Specialty in Small Animal Internal Medicine in 2016. She is the co-founder and a contributing author for InternalMedicineForPetParents.com. Visit her author page here.
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