Infectious Canine Hepatitis Symptoms

Infectious canine hepatitis symptoms are often mistaken for other conditions with less dire consequences. Canine hepatitis is a disease that eventually affects the liver and is caused by the canine adenovirus type 1, although other body organs are often affected as a result. Because the virus is transmitted through urinary and salivary secretions, it is a highly contagious disease that spreads very quickly between dogs kept in close quarters and those that share food and water bowls.

Canine hepatitis is a quick-acting disease, often killing dogs within just a few hours of the onset of symptoms; however, that level of severity is most common in unvaccinated dogs under the age of one year old. Still, there is a real threat of canine hepatitis to dogs because of the ease with which the virus can be transmitted. There are very limited means for treating canine hepatitis, other than intravenous fluids for comfort and support, and it is imperative that all dog owners seek the canine adenovirus type 1 vaccination for their dogs. If, however, a dog is unvaccinated, here are some of the symptoms to be aware of.

Throat and Lungs

The place that canine hepatitis symptoms show up first is typically the throat and the lungs, so at the initial onset, the first signs are usually a dry cough, inflammation of the throat, and reduced appetite because throat soreness. It is important to note that the virus can reach the bloodstream in double-quick time and begin affecting other areas of the body, transitionally causing pneumonia to develop in the lungs. Because this is just the first stop in the body for the canine adenovirus, the associated symptoms are commonly mistaken for a regular head cold.

Hepatitis Blue Eye

Hepatitis blue eye is a coined phrase for the description of the eyes once affected by canine hepatitis. Although the eyes are almost never the first body part affected, they can be ultimately infected if the infection has reached the blood stream. The cornea is clear portion of the eye, and once affected by canine hepatitis, it becomes bluish and cloudy in appearance, hence the coined phrase "hepatitis blue eye". Because of the physical appearance of the cornea, this symptom is commonly misdiagnosed for corneal ulcers.

The Liver and Kidneys

The endpoint for the canine adenovirus and canine hepatitis is the liver. Once the virus has reached the liver, the disease has reached its endstage and death is imminent. This is point where the virus has gone as far as it can, and because of its affect on both the liver and the kidneys, neither of these organs will be functioning properly, if at all.

At this point, seizures are very common in dogs, along with vomiting and an insatiable thirst. The appetite has likely already dropped off by this point, but as the kidneys continue to fail, the desire for water will increase. Once a dog has come this far, this is nothing more that can be done other than the administration of intravenous fluids to avoid dehydration and to provide comfort.