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Hepatitis in dogs



Hepatitis is one of the most serious diseases that dogs can have. This pathology has several etiologies, the most common being infectious viral hepatitis (canine viral hepatitis), which also develops rapidly and often with a poor prognosis in unvaccinated puppies and young dogs.

How does your dog’s liver work?

The liver is an organ that performs a multitude of essential vital functions, including metabolizing proteins, vitamins, and fats, synthesizing proteins and minerals, producing bile, and removing toxic waste from the dog’s body.

Therefore, a failure in this organ is extremely important, since the tasks that it performs are essential for life.

What is hepatitis and how many types are there?

Hepatitis consists of an inflammation of the liver, which can have its origin in different causes.

In dogs, these are the most common:

– Infectious viral hepatitis (also known as Rubarth ‘s disease ). It is caused by the canine adenovirus CAV-1. It is transmitted through the blood, urine, saliva, nasal secretions, or feces of infected dogs. It is a virus capable of surviving for a long time in water and on infected objects and surfaces, showing resistance to disinfectants.

For this reason, it is important that you avoid –for this and other viral diseases–, as far as possible, that your dog sniffs feces or urine of other dogs during his walks and that he drinks in waters that are not totally reliable and drinkable. This type of hepatitis affects only dogs (and in Europe also foxes) and is not related to hepatitis in humans.

This hepatitis is usually especially worrisome in puppies of short or very young age, in which the mortality rate is usually higher.

– Common hepatitis. It is usually caused by exposure to toxic agents such as poisons or drugs. By not being able to digest these substances, the liver becomes damaged and inflamed.

-Autoimmune hepatitis: occurs when the dog’s own immune system “attacks” the hepatocytes, which are liver cells, since it mistakes them for pathogens, that is, “enemies” of its body.

Most common symptoms of hepatitis in dogs
They are usually the following:

  • But it is excessive.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Lethargy.
  • Fever.
  • Seizures caused by liver failure.
  • Diarrhea, often bloody
  • Jaundice, that is yellowing of the eyes or mucous membranes.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in the mucous membranes.
  • Vomiting
  • Subcutaneous edema.
  • Increased nasal and ocular discharge.


Can I prevent my dog from getting viral hepatitis?

Fortunately, yes. Thanks to the increasingly widespread vaccination protocols (and mandatory in many countries), you can protect your dog from puppyhood, since the vaccine against this disease is part of the first vaccination your dog will receive

In addition to this priming dose, most dogs usually receive an annual “booster” dose, which is desirable for greater safety protection against disease.

Following the vaccination protocol indicated by the veterinarian is essential, but it is also essential that the dog has a good quality of life, this includes a specific diet that provides nutrients of the highest quality, an appropriate hygienic routine for both himself and the places where he spends most of his time, some good habits during his walks (not sniffing or ingesting feces from other dogs, for example), getting the right exercise for his needs and regular veterinary check-ups.

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