Is Hepatitis in Dogs Contagious?

Hepatitis in dogs is caused by the adenovirus and can be a fatal disease, affecting the liver and other organs in the body. Hepatitis is a contagious disease, but may only affect other canines. There is a vaccine that can be administered to prevent catching the virus and hepatitis.

Hepatitis Is Contagious to Dogs

Hepatitis is caused by the adenovirus 1, also known as the CAV-1. The virus may be transmitted through:

  • Direct contact with a dog that carries the virus
  • From mother to puppies
  • Through contact with fluids produced by the dog’s body (i.e. saliva). Bowls and other items that are infested with the adenovirus 1 can be contagious for several days and should be disinfected with bleach to completely eliminate the virus.
  • The urine and feces of an infested dog can also be a source of infection.

In rare cases, the adenovirus 1 can be transmitted through parasites from the environment (i.e. fleas or mosquitoes).

Hepatitis in Dogs Is Not Contagious to Humans

The adenovirus 1 is not contagious to and cannot affect humans.

The canine hepatitis is confused with the hepatitis B, which indeed affects humans. However, hepatitis B doesn’t affect dogs.

Symptoms of Canine Hepatitis

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis, so that you get help immediately. Also, if you have a household with multiple dogs, it can be critical to detect the symptoms and isolate the pet that displays the symptoms, in order to protect the other dogs.

Watch out for symptoms such as:

  • High fever
  • Vomiting, sometimes containing blood
  • Refusal to eat
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Nose bleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pale gums and mucous membranes
  • Jaundice (yellowing of eye whites)
  • Swollen abdomen, caused by the swelling of the liver
  • Coma or seizures

Treatment Options for Dog Hepatitis

Hepatitis in dogs can be acute or more severe. Acute hepatitis can be treated, while the severe form may be fatal.

Intravenous fluids, blood transfusions and supportive care will be offered to treat the dog. There is no treatment for hepatitis and if the dog has severe symptoms, he may die within 1 week.

Dogs with a powerful immune system can recover from hepatitis

Prevention of Hepatitis

Hepatitis in dogs can be prevented through the administration of the vaccine against the hepatitis virus. The vaccine can be administered when the dog is 6 weeks old and should be repeated periodically. If a dog is not vaccinated during puppyhood, the vaccine can be administered even later in the dog’s life. However, the dog should be tested for the adenovirus 1 first, as the vaccine shouldn’t be administered if the dog is already infected with the virus.

A vaccine against the adenovirus 2 is also available and is recommended by some vets, but cannot protect against canine hepatitis.

This vaccine will make the dog immune to the virus and he will not be able to contract the virus from other canines.