Causes of hepatitis in dogs

One of the diseases that can suffer your dog is viral hepatitis canine. It has no relation to human hepatitis and is a condition that only affects dogs. It is a disease that is less frequent due to vaccines, but it is contagious and sometimes fatal in puppies that have not been vaccinated. In this article of .com we explain what are the causes of hepatitis in dogs.

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Canine viral hepatitis, formerly known as Rubarth's disease, is caused by adenovirus type 1, throughout Europe it is a virus that only affects foxes and dogs. This is the cause that causes hepatitis; and the main source of infection is through the ingestion of saliva, feces or urine of other infected dogs. When a dog recovers from this disease, it can get to expel the virus for more than 6 months through the urine. It is a very strong virus and resistant to a large amount of disinfectant products and its presence can last in the environment for many weeks.


When a puppy gets this virus, can die in a short time and if he is surrounded by more dogs, the possibility of infection is very high. If an infected puppy is introduced to a new group of dogs, it can unleash a particularly virulent outbreak of the disease. So prevention through vaccination is key so that the disease does not spread especially in situations where many dogs live together. Canine viral hepatitis affects, in the first place, the lymphatic tissue that surrounds the head and then passes to the organs, the liver is usually the most affected. When a dog ends up infected, the possibility of death is quite high even with treatment.


It is very important to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis in dogs that can range from very mild to very severe, causing sudden death. In very young puppies in the case that they manifest a very strong pain in the abdomen, in a few hours they could die. In any case, if a young dog has been raised in a responsible manner, it usually enjoys the temporary protection that is inherited from the mother (if it has been vaccinated), so this variant of the disease is strange.

In the initial phase of the disease, it is usually perceived as a lethargic state. During the examination, the veterinarian will notice a high temperature, redness of the mucous membranes, inflammation of the lymph nodes under the jaw and tonsillitis. If your pet suffers acute tonsillitis, go to the vet immediately because it is not usual. Once you reach this point, the picture can evolve quickly until your dog has diarrhea and vomiting and loss of appetite.


It is also possible that your pet only reflects the mild form of the disease, that is, presenting a little fever, some diarrhea and some inflammation in the lymph nodes.

The reality is that there are variants in the clinical picture, sometimes seizures may appear that will affect a diagnosis that can be confused with distemper. It can happen that distemper and canine viral hepatitis converge simultaneously. There are many dogs that suffer a disorder called corneal edema, although it will depend on the strain of the virus, which usually appears 10 days after the first symptoms. The eye acquires a bluish and turbid color after the formation of an edema.


If you are a responsible owner, what you should do is prevent this disease. Canine viral hepatitis is one of the first vaccines that puppies receive and is part of the annual recall dose. These vaccines usually contain the CAV-2 strain, since they protect against certain variants of the coughs of the kennels and, in addition, prevent the formation of corneal edema. Your veterinarian will estimate the vaccination protocol that suits your pet's needs.

In the event that your dog has this disease, it will be important that you take care of your diet and follow the recommendations indicated in the article What can a dog eat with hepatitis.