Canine Hepatitis Vaccine

Canine hepatitis develops as the result of infection by the canine adenovirus type 1. Similarly, there is a canine adenovirus type 2; however, this usually only produces cough, whereas the type 1 infection causes infectious canine hepatitis. The onset of the canine hepatitis vaccine has definitely reduced the occurrence of the disease, but it's still common in dogs. Because the condition is fatal, and there is no treatment option other than intravenous fluids for comfort and support, it is of high import that all dog owners have their dog vaccinated against canine hepatitis.

Effect of Canine Hepatitis

The canine adenovirus type 1 is a rapidly progressing virus that usually begins by effecting minor structures of the body, such as the throat. However, as the virus progresses, it often leads to pneumonia once it has invaded the respiratory system. As the virus continues to spread, it enters the and usually sets up at either the kidneys or the liver, causing one or both of these organs to fail. As the liver and kidney begin failing, a dog may start having seizures, an increased thirst, and may vomit, bringing the dog closer to death as there is no way to stop the infection.

The severity of canine hepatitis cannot be underestimated. While the symptoms may appear rather quickly, the disease progresses even quicker, sometimes resulting in death in as little as two hours after the onset of symptoms are noticed. Even with all of the modern technological advances in veterinary medicine, there is still no treatment method that can eliminate the canine adenovirus from the body, which is why vaccination is so important.

Vaccination to Protect Against Hepatitis in Dogs

Because there is no treatment for canine hepatitis, the only way to prevent it in dogs is to have them properly vaccinated. Vaccination for this disease usually begins around the age of 6 to 9 months, being readministered at the 12 to 15 month mark and annually after that. It is important to remember that puppies that have not yet been vaccinated are extremely susceptible to all forms of infection and disease, so they should be kept isolated from unvaccinated dogs until they have received all of their shots.

The vaccination itself is a simple procedure given by injection just beneath the surface of the dog's skin. Type 2 of the canine adenovirus is often given in combination with the type 1 vaccination. In fact, the vaccination is actually a modified life form of the virus containing either the type 1 virus or the type 2 virus. Both versions of the viruses cannot be administered, but they do have the ability to cross protect. So, regardless of whether type 1 or type 2 is given, it will provide protection against canine hepatitis.

In some cases, there may be persistent kidney infections as a result of the vaccine, typically occurring between 1 and 2 weeks after dosage. If this happens, the virus may be shed into the urinary tract where it can infiltrate to other areas of the body, which is why vaccination is still not 100% safe. However, the decision not to vaccinate is still more dangerous than the decision to vaccinate.