Causes of Hepatitis in Dogs

It's important to learn about the causes of hepatitis so that you can take a few preventive measures to protect your pet. Hepatitis is a disease that primarily affects the liver. Although the disease can affect pets of all breeds, the condition is most common in puppies and elderly dogs. As a pet owner you need to make note of the signs and symptoms that accompany hepatitis. You should also seek prompt medical care if your pet exhibits any known symptoms of the condition.

Causes of Hepatitis

A dog develops hepatitis when he comes in contact with a virus known as the canine adenovirus type 1, or CAV-1. Although an infected dog can transmit the disease to other pets through his urine or stools, he cannot transmit the disease to humans. Most pets develop full blown hepatitis when they come in contact with the virus through infected feces and urine passed by infected pets. Although this is one cause of hepatitis, some pets develop hepatitis that's idiopathic (no known cause) in nature. It's best to watch for the symptoms of the condition and initiate treatment at the earliest.

Diagnosis of Canine Hepatitis

In order to diagnose canine hepatitis, the vet will perform a thorough physical exam and look for signs of bluish eyes or cloudy eyes. The pet will also suffer from diarrhea, seizures and vomiting as the disease progresses. It's important to watch for these symptoms and inform the vet of the same so that the diagnosis is confirmed. The vet will also perform blood tests to check for liver and kidney function. Urine tests and abdominal x-rays are other tests that may be performed to rule out accompanying ailments.

Treatment of Canine Hepatitis

Although there isn't any established treatment procedure that completely cures canine hepatitis, the vet will administer a course of antibiotics to control the viral infection. If the dog shows signs of kidney or liver damage, the vet will also adopt the right treatment protocol to reduce the pain and discomfort present. Most treatment options aim to provide relief and once the virus passes, the pet will be immune to hepatitis for life.

Tips for Pet Owners:

  • Since puppies are at greatest risk of contracting hepatitis, it's important to vaccinate them when they're young.
  • Make sure your dog doesn't ingest food or water found outdoors.
  • Prevent newborn pets from coming in contact with pet feces or urine.
  • Conduct a vet check as soon as possible, as sudden death can occur if the viral infection is severe.
  • Healthy pets or other animals living in the same household should be kept away from sick pets.
  • The infected dog's urine and feces should be disposed of in the right manner.

Although the prognosis is better for middle aged or elderly pets, puppies succumb to the disease due to their weak immune systems. Pet owners should therefore take proper care of newly acquired pets and administer all core vaccines on time to prevent the pet from contracting any life threatening infections.