Types of Hepatitis in Dogs

Hepatitis can result in some very serious and life-threatening symptoms for your dog. Our Ventura vets explain the types of hepatitis seen in dogs, the most common symptoms, treatments, and prevention.

Types of Hepatitis in Dogs

Infectious canine hepatitis and canine chronic hepatitis are the two most common types of hepatitis in dogs. Chronic infection is one that has been causing damage for at least a few weeks, whereas acute hepatitis can appear suddenly (typically over just a few days).

Infectious Canine Hepatitis

  • Hepatitis C in dogs is an acute contagious disease in dogs caused by the canine adenovirus 1. The virus targets the infected pet's liver, lungs, kidneys, spleen, the lining of blood vessels, and occasionally other organs. Symptoms of Hepatitis C in dogs can vary widely from slight fever to death.

Canine Chronic Hepatitis

  • Infectious canine hepatitis causes canine chronic hepatitis. Skye Terriers, Chihuahuas, Springer Spaniels, Beagles, West Highland White Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Maltese, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, Bedlington Terriers, and Standard Poodles are some of the dog breeds that are predisposed to the disease.

Causes of Hepatitis in Dogs

Canine hepatitis is spread through the consumption of infected dogs' feces, saliva, nasal discharge, or urine. Many dog owners are unaware that even if their dog recovers, the virus will remain in their urine for at least 6 months, potentially causing infections in other dogs.

Further, copper accumulation in the liver cells can cause severe chronic hepatitis in dogs in some cases.

Bacterial Hepatitis in Dogs - Symptoms

Infectious canine hepatitis can manifest in several ways. You may notice one or more of the following symptoms if your dog has contracted infectious hepatitis:

  • Watery discharge from eyes and nose
  • Congestion
  • Slight fever
  • Deficiency of blood clotting
  • Blindness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thirst
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Yellow, jaundiced look to ears, gums, and skin
  • Eye inflammation
  • Severe depression
  • Abdominal pain (occasional)
  • Vomiting (occasional)
  • Bruised or reddened nose and mouth
  • Spontaneous bleeding

In severe cases symptoms may include:

  • Red dots on skin
  • Bruised or reddened nose and mouth
  • Swelling (neck, head, lymph nodes)
  • Seizures
  • Death

Although the disease has become less common in areas where routine vaccinations are administered, owners must remain vigilant because the disease can develop quickly in both puppies and dogs.

It is essential to contact your vet right away if you notice any symptoms listed above!

Diagnosing Hepatitis in Dogs

Infectious canine hepatitis is usually the cause of sudden onset and bleeding, but laboratory tests (such as antibody tests, immuno-fluorescence scanning, and blood tests) are required to confirm a diagnosis. If your dog is critically ill, blood transfusions may be required.

In some cases, routine blood health panels can reveal chronic hepatitis in the dog's liver, which may allow for diagnosis before signs develop.

When your dog starts to show signs of liver disease, it is usually very late in the disease's progression. A liver biopsy can be used to make a definitive diagnosis and determine the severity and type of liver disease your dog has.

Treatment for Hepatitis in Dogs

Depending on the results of the biopsy, your vet may recommend treating the disease with a broad-spectrum antibiotic, anti-inflammatory medications, or immunosuppressive medication.

A painful spasm in the eye can sometimes be linked to cornea clouding. To help relieve your dog's pain, your veterinarian may prescribe eye ointment. It is critical to protect your dog's eye from bright light if he or she has corneal clouding.

Intravenous fluid therapy and hospitalization are some of the treatment options. Blood tests are required on a regular basis to monitor your dog's health.

The Prognosis Hepatitis in Dogs

Even after your dog has recovered from the disease, immune-complex reactions can cause corneal clouding and long-term kidney damage. Though acute hepatitis can be cured in some cases, chronic hepatitis cannot be cured. Your dog will need to be monitored and treated so that he can live a long, healthy life with minimal clinical signs.

Preventing Hepatitis in Dogs

The most widely used and important preventive measure for infectious canine hepatitis is a mandatory vaccine. This vaccine is usually given to your dog along with their canine distemper vaccinations.

Puppies are given the hepatitis vaccine at around 7 to 9 weeks of age, with the first booster between 11 and 13 weeks of age, after which they are protected.

Your dog will need booster shots throughout its life to stay protected against this serious condition, with another one at 15 months and then once a year to keep the infection at bay.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is displaying symptoms of hepatits, such as a slight fever or depression, it could be a pet emergency. Contact our Ventura vets immediately.

Dog being treated for Hepatitis, Ventura Vet

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