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Hepatitis in Dogs

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Hepatitis in Dogs

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Adopting a dog means taking on a great responsibility towards our pet, as we must be aware of the importance of offering it all that it needs and monitoring its health closely. Few diseases are unique to human beings, and like us, our dog can also suffer hepatitis.

Hepatitis is a term that comes from the Greek words "hepar" (liver) and "itis" (inflammation), and therefore indicates a pathology in which the liver is inflamed. An inflammation of the liver can occur for various reasons, so there are different types of hepatitis.

In this AnimalWised article we will give you comprehensive information about this disease and go over the symptoms and treatment of hepatitis in dogs.

You may also be interested in: Liver Failure in Dogs


  1. What is hepatitis in dogs?
  2. Types of hepatitis in dogs
  3. Symptoms of hepatitis in dogs
  4. Treatment of hepatitis in dogs
  5. Prevention of hepatitis in dogs

What is hepatitis in dogs?

A dog's anatomy is not so different from that of a human: the organs that are vital to us, such as the liver, are also vital for our pet. The liver is essential for the organic balance of our organism, as it is involved in the metabolic process, ensures the proper disposal of various toxins, stores energy, synthesizes proteins, produces bile and participates in the assimilation of nutrients.

Canine hepatitis is produced by an inflammation of the liver, which can be caused by poor nutrition or repeated exposure to various toxic elements that gradually affect the organ and can cause chronic damage. When liver damage has affected the functions of this important organ, we can see serious signs that indicate a malfunction not just of the liver but of the whole organism.

Hepatitis in Dogs - What is hepatitis in dogs?

Types of hepatitis in dogs

Hepatitis in dogs can have different causes and depending on the origin of the condition we will have one type of hepatitis or another:

  • Metabolic hepatitis: Liver inflammation is caused by exposing the body to toxic or chemical elements and drugs that over time are able to produce liver damage, by damaging the cells directly or by altering their structure or metabolism processes. Symptoms occur when the damage is severe.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis: The inflammation is produced by a reaction of the dog's own immune system, which attacks the hepatocytes or liver cells as it mistakes them for pathogens. This type of hepatitis is also known as autoimmune liver disease. It is a chronic disease.
  • Infectious hepatitis: Liver inflammation is caused by canine adenovirus type I. This is an acute viral disease that spreads through urine, contaminated water or contaminated objects. It primarily affects dogs under one year old, and the course of the disease is usually between 5-7 days before an improvement will occur. There are vaccines against canine adenovirus.

Infectious hepatitis usually has a good prognosis provided that the dog does not present a hyperacute form, which can easily be fatal. In the case of metabolic or autoimmune hepatitis, the prognosis will depend on each case. The related lesions may become chronic.

Hepatitis in Dogs - Types of hepatitis in dogs

Symptoms of hepatitis in dogs

No matter the type of hepatitis and its cause, we are facing an inflammation of the liver. The symptoms of hepatitis in dogs are the following:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Jaundice, that is, yellowing of the eyes and mucous membranes
  • Blood in the mucous membranes
  • Abdominal pain that can lead to immobility
  • Fever
  • Seizures due to liver failure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increase in nose and eye secretion
  • Vomiting
  • Subcutaneous edema

A dog with hepatitis does not have to show all the symptoms exposed, so when faced with any sign indicating possible hepatitis we must urgently go to the vet.

Hepatitis in Dogs - Symptoms of hepatitis in dogs

Treatment of hepatitis in dogs

The treatment of hepatitis in dogs will depend on the factor that caused the disease.

  • In metabolic hepatitis, treatment is symptomatic. However, it will also but meet the goal of modulating the factors that have caused the liver damage in the first place.
  • In autoimmune hepatitis, treatment is also symptomatic though the veterinarian will assess the possible prescription of an immunomodulatory drug that acts on the immune system to specifically prevent liver damage.
  • In the case of infectious hepatitis the treatment is symptomatic and there is no cure. Antibiotics can be used to control secondary infections, and the vet will probably recommend isotonic solutions to prevent dehydration, liver protectors and a low-protein diet.

It is the veterinarian who must recommend a low-protein diet, although this is beneficial in all three cases of hepatitis as the abundant presence of proteins overload the liver. Remember that only the veterinarian can prescribe any treatment for your pet.

Hepatitis in Dogs - Treatment of hepatitis in dogs

Prevention of hepatitis in dogs

To prevent metabolic and autoimmune hepatitis, it is important for our dog to enjoy good health and a high quality of life. You must ensure it has a proper, balanced diet that covers all its nutritional requirements, enough affection and enough outdoor exercise, all of which contribute to maintain the balance of the organism.

In the case of infectious hepatitis vaccination is the most effective tool for prevention.

  • Polyvalent serum: Prevents infection in the short term, and is recommended when it has not been possible to start the vaccination program.
  • Inactive virus vaccine: Two doses are required, and the period of protection varies between 6 and 9 months.
  • Attenuated vaccine: Only one dose is required and protection is as effective as it is durable.

Check with your veterinarian and they will indicate what type of prevention is the most appropriate for your pet. Here you can find the vaccination schedule for puppies and dogs.

Hepatitis in Dogs - Prevention of hepatitis in dogs
Hepatitis in Dogs -

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Hepatitis in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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1 comment
can a dog get hep c from an open wound of a infected human??
Administrador AnimalWised
While hep C is indeed transferred from blood to blood contact, there is currently little evidence to suggest dogs can get hep C from humans and vice versa.
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Hepatitis in Dogs