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Canine Infectious Hepatitis

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Canine Infectious Hepatitis

Signs and Symptoms

Canine Infectious Hepatitis is an extremely contagious viral disease found in the liver of dogs. This disease can cause severe cell damage. Canine infectious hepatitis is caused by CAV-1, or more commonly known as canine adenovirus type-1. Canine adenovirus type-1 can also create disease in animals such as wolves, bears, and even coyotes. It is also known to cause encephalitis in animals, such as foxes. Humans cannot contract canine hepatitis. In previous years Canine Infectious Hepatitis was sometimes mistaken for the Canine Distemper Virus.

Transmission of Canine Infectious Hepatitis

Canine infectious hepatitis is easily transmitted through feces, saliva, blood, urine, and discharge of the nasal area of dogs that are infected. However, this disease can also be transmitted through inhaling or by ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes. After a dog has been exposed to the disease, the virus will incubate anywhere from 4 to 7 days. During this time the virus will begin to multiply itself and will start to discard itself through the dog’s (or other animal) urine, feces, saliva, etc. It is at this point that the virus is highly contagious. Canine infectious hepatitis moves from the tonsils onto the lymph nodes. It then goes into the dog's blood stream where it will stay for at least eight days. Ultimately, it finds its way to the liver, eyes, kidneys as well as other organs; where it can cause Dog Liver Disease and Dog Kidney Disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Canine Infectious Hepatitis

There are a variety of symptoms associated with canine infectious hepatitis. These symptoms include depression, loss of appetite, fever, abdomen tenderness, and sometimes coughing. Other and more severe symptoms can include vomiting, jaundice, corneal edema, and bleeding disorders which can create the formation of hematomas of the mouth.

Risks Associated with Canine Infectious Hepatitis

Canine infectious hepatitis can cause death in dogs that do not get immediate veterinary treatment. It can also cause your dog to be hospitalized. Some dogs may develop "blue eye" which is a brief cloudiness of the cornea of the eye. This blue eye reaction usually clears within 21 days of infection.

Diagnosing Canine Infectious Hepatitis

A diagnosis of canine infectious hepatitis is done through a combination of methods. First the veterinarian will have labs down to test for antibodies. Blood work and a urinalysis will be conducted as part of the lab work. A second test, known as ELISA, which is fairly new in the veterinary world, may also be conducted. This test can discover the virus in the fecal matter of a dog that may be infected. The veterinarian will also review your dog's symptoms, exposure history, and may perform a physical as well.

Treatment of Canine Infectious Hepatitis

At the present time there is no cure for canine infectious hepatitis. Infected dogs are treated for their symptoms. Such treatments may include antibiotics, drops to reduce irritation of the eyes, blood transfusion, fluid replacement with an I.V., fasting, and enemas.

Prevention of Canine Infectious Hepatitis

The only way to prevent canine infectious hepatitis is through vaccinations. Vaccination should occur when your dog is a puppy. Puppies should receive two series of injections to prevent canine infectious hepatitis. The initial injection should be given to the puppy when it reaches the age of 10 weeks. The second injection should be given by the age of 14 weeks. The dog will also need to be vaccinated at least every year or three years, depending on the make of the vaccine.

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