Infectious Hepatitis In Dogs

Infectious hepatitis in dogs is a highly contagious viral disease transmitted only to dogs. It is not the same hepatitis found in man. It primarily affects the liver, lining of the blood vessels and the kidneys. It can cause liver disease in dogs.

The symptoms of canine hepatitis range from those of mild or subclinical infection at one extreme to a rapidly fatal one at the other. It is difficult to distinguish the disease from distemper at times.

The virus multiples in the dog’s tissues a few days after it is exposed and is shed in his tool, urine and saliva. During this stage, the disease is most contagious. It is spread to other dogs coming into contact with the sick dog or its urine, saliva and stool. Dogs that have recovered and convalescent dogs may shed the virus in the urine for months.

The most severe cases occur in young puppies during the first few months of life. Dogs of all ages are susceptible.

In the fatal fulminating form, the dog suddenly becomes ill, develops bloody diarrhea, collapses and dies. Puppies can die suddenly without obvious signs of the illness.

Hepatitis signs in the dog are a high fever, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting blood. He refuses to eat and movement is painful. He may exhibit a tucked up belly which is caused by painful swelling of the liver. Liver failure may occur. Light hurts his eyes and he may squint and tear a lot. Bleeding beneath the gums and under the skin, tonsillitis, and yellowing of the whites of the eyes may occur. This is the acute stage.

In mild cases, the dog simply appears lethargic or below his normal condition. You will notice a loss of appetite. A blood test is needed to help make a diagnosis.

About 25 percent of dogs develop a characteristic clouding of the cornea of one or both eyes after the acute symptoms have subsided. It clears spontaneously in a few days in most dogs. If the disease persists, it should be treated by a veterinarian. Rarely does the eye remain permanently clouded.

Blue eye can occur after a hepatitis vaccination. This only occurs in a small percentage of dogs.

The disease can be prevented by proper vaccinations. Vaccinations must be kept current in the dog.

All types of hepatitis are not caused by the canine adenovirus type one virus. This is known as idiopathic or periportal hepitatis. This type of hepatitis is of unknown origin and occurs in dogs that are at least five to six years of age, in most cases.

Puppies and dogs that are unvaccinated are at the highest risk of being infected by the virus that causes canine hepatitis.

Treatment of hepatitis includes using a broad spectrum antibiotic and administering intravenous fluids with a dextrose solution to rehydrate the dog.

It is important to know that after recovery your pet can still shed the herpes virus in his urine for up to nine months.

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