Infectious Canine Hepatitis

Canine hepatitis is a highly infectious and contagious virus caused by type 1 of the adenovirus. It mainly affects the liver and can cause fatality in unhealthy dogs almost immediately after symptoms are noticed. Because this virus is so dangerous, the only way to effectively avoid it is through vaccination.

Transmission of Canine Hepatitis

Transmission of canine hepatitis comes through direct contact with a dog that is infected with the adenovirus. The virus is transmitted through secretions of the body, namely urine. This is a virus that is highly contagious and begins flowing through the blood stream immediately upon entrance to the body. Once the virus has entered the bloodstream, it can reach and affect any organ of the body; although the liver is the most commonly affected organ.

One of the reasons that this virus is so deadly is because it is highly contagious. In addition to direct contact with urine, it can also be transmitted through the use of contaminated objects, such as food bowls and bedding. Because this virus can live in feces and urine, it can contaminate almost anything that it touches.

Symptoms of Hepatitis in Dogs

The symptoms of canine hepatitis usually appear almost instantly. The symptoms of this virus are directly related to your dog's ability to fight off the virus. Some dogs are actually healthy enough that the virus will only affect them in a mild way and they can rid themselves of the virus. However, in other cases, such as with puppies or unvaccinated dogs, the symptoms appear very quickly and the virus has usually affected the liver or another organ beyond repair. Because this virus can multiply so rapidly, sometimes the symptoms may only be noticed within hours before the dog dies.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, you should be aware that they could be related to canine hepatitis:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Appearance of pain while eating
  • Jaundice of the eyes and gums
  • Seizures
  • Increased drinking and urinating

Diagnosis and Treatment for Canine Hepatitis

Diagnosis of canine hepatitis usually occurs with the help of a stool sample, urinalysis and blood testing. The virus can usually be seen in the feces if it is present. Additionally, blood test will help to determine if your dog's immune system is creating antibodies. If it is, it typically means there is a virus or infection present in the body. Using these methods will help to confirm a diagnosis of canine hepatitis.

The truly unfortunate aspect of this virus is that there is no solid treatment method available. Once the virus has entered the body, there is no medication or treatment that will eliminate it. The only hope is that the dog's immune system is strong enough to fight it off before it can invade the liver or any other organs.

This is why prevention of adenovirus is so important. Vaccinations can be given against it annually and are the only way to effectively prevent your dog from getting it.