Infectious canine hepatitis, a look at hepatitis in dogs

Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious disease. The virus that causes this disease can cause damage to your dog’s liver as well as other organs. If treatment isn’t sought quickly, the disease is usually fatal. Puppies are especially susceptible to life-threatening complications.


As mentioned earlier, hepatitis in dogs is caused by a virus. The specific virus is canine adenovirus type 1, also referred to as CAV-1. It is transmitted through contact with infected animals and objects. Common objects that can harbor the virus include feces, food bowls, and water dishes. The virus can also be transmitted by parasites such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. In some cases, it can also be inhaled.


Dogs with infectious canine hepatitis develop a wide range of symptoms. They include vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Your dog may also get a high fever. You may also notice that your dog’s stomach will appear enlarged. This is caused by the swelling of the liver.

Hepatitis in dogs also causes sensitivity to light. Your dog’s eyes will tear when exposed to light. In severe cases of the disease, symptoms include bloody gums, nose, vomit, and diarrhea. It is also common for dogs to experience seizures, which is usually a sight of impending death within days. Some dogs die within hours of showing symptoms.


This disease is diagnosed based on a physical exam and clinical signs. Blood and urine samples will also be sent to the lab to be analyzed. There is also a test that can detect the presence of the virus in your dog’s stool.


Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for infectious canine hepatitis. Dogs can usually fight the disease on their own as long as they have a healthy immune system. Treatment involves giving the dog intravenous fluids, enemas, and blood transfusions. Since the eyes usually become inflamed, your dog may also be given eye drops to get rid of the inflammation. Even after the disease has been treated, dogs can shed the virus for months after infection. Therefore, your dog will pose a threat of infecting other dogs.